Health Highlights: Oct. 17, 2007

Experts are worried that healthy women who want to freeze eggs so they can have children later in life may not have an accurate idea of the low success rates, said Dr. Marc Fritz, chair of the committee that prepared the policy statement.

He also noted that the science of egg freezing is still new and little is known about whether babies born from frozen eggs are healthy, both at birth and over the long term, the CP reported.

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Average Cost of Having a Baby in U.S. now $7,600

The average cost of having a baby in the United States has now topped $7,600, according to the latest News and Numbers summary from the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

The cost, in 2004 dollars, includes payments for prenatal office visits, prescription medicines, hospital childbirth, and other services.

Among the other findings in the summary:

  • Women with private insurance and those with Medicaid had about the same average costs ($2,000) for prenatal care. However, inpatient delivery costs for those with private insurance averaged $6,520, compared with $4,577 for those on Medicaid.
  • Privately insured women paid about eight percent of their total expenses out of pocket (about $600 for a woman with an average level of expenses), while women on Medicaid paid about one percent out of pocket.
  • About 23 percent of all women had some prescription drug expenses associated with their pregnancy. The median amount of the expenses was $640. About three-quarters of all prescription drug expenses were for nutritional products such as prenatal vitamins.

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FDA Approves New Breast Cancer Drug

A new chemotherapy drug called Ixempra received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval Tuesday for treatment of women with advanced breast cancer who haven't responded to treatment with three other types of chemotherapy.

The drug, made by Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., was also approved for use with the chemotherapy drug capecitabine (brand name Xeloda) for treatment of women with breast cancer that's spread to other parts of the body, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Ixempra was granted priority review status by the FDA. This status, which cuts four months off the standard 10-month drug review time, is given to products that are considered to be an advance over existing therapies on the market.

Ixempra, which belongs to a new class of drugs called epothilones, is designed to stop the growth of cancer cells. It does this by targeting a protein called tubulin that helps cells proliferate, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Bristol-Myers is also studying the use of Ixempra for treatment of earlier-stage breast cancer, as well as ovarian, prostate, renal, pancreatic and non small cell lung cancers.

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FDA Panel Supports Earlier Use of Phosphate Binders Against Kidney Disease

Earlier use of drugs called phosphate binders to treat hyperphosphatemia (elevated levels of phosphorus in the blood) in patients with Stage 4 chronic kidney disease was recommended Tuesday by a U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory committee.

However, the Cardiovascular and Renal Drugs Advisory Committee didn't reach consensus on which additional studies may be required, according to a news release from Shire Pharmaceuticals, which makes a product to treat hyperphosphatemia. The FDA is not required to follow the advisory panel's recommendation. No time frame has been set on when the FDA will make a decision on the committee's recommendation.

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