Health Highlights: Oct. 18, 2007

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of HealthDay:

Millions of American Teens Smoke, Drink, Use Drugs Each Day: Report

On an average day in 2006, 1.2 million American teens smoked cigarettes, 631,000 drank, 586,000 used marijuana, almost 50,000 used inhalants, 27,000 used hallucinogens, 13,000 used cocaine, and 3,800 used heroin, according to a government report released Thursday.

WHAT TO KNOW
    • Millions of American Teens Smoke, Drink and Use Drugs Each Day: Report
    • Pfizer Stops Making Inhaled Insulin Product
    • U.S. West Nile Infections Reach 3,022
    • FDA Widens Approval of Meningitis Vaccine for Young Kids
    • Regular Aspirin Use Against Heart Attack May Only Work for Men
    • Britain Facing Obesity Crisis: Report

It also found that on an average day, almost 8,000 adolescents ages 12 to 17 drank alcohol for the first time, about 4,300 used an illicit drug for the first time, about 4,000 smoked cigarettes for the first time, almost 3,600 used marijuana for the first time, and about 2,500 abused pain reliever for the first time.

The report, by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), is based on national surveys conducted and analyzed by the agency's Office of Applied Studies.

"While other studies have shown that significant progress has been made in lowering the levels of substance abuse among young people in the last few years, this report shows many young people are still engaging in risky behavior," SAMHSA Administrator Terry Cline said in a prepared statement.

"By breaking the data down and analyzing on a day-to-day basis, we gain fresh perspective on how deeply substance abuse pervades the lives of many young people and their families," Cline said.

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Pfizer Stops Making Inhaled Insulin Product

Pfizer Inc. announced Thursday that it was halting production of its inhaled insulin product Exubera, which was touted as a major advance for diabetes patients when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved it in January 2006.

"Despite our best efforts, Exubera failed to gain the acceptance of patients and physicians. We have therefore concluded that further investment in this product is unwarranted," Pfizer Chief Executive Jeff Kindler said in a prepared statement.

There were a number of problems with Exubera, Forbes reported. The drug seemed to decrease lung function, apparently due to the way the insulin was delivered into the lungs. There were also problems with dosing because it proved a challenge to convert a patient's normal insulin dose into a dosage of Exubera.

And as Pfizer was forced to conduct safety studies on Exubera's effect on lung function, other companies developed less painful methods of insulin injection, Forbes reported.

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U.S. West Nile Infections Reach 3,022

So far this year, there have been 3,022 reported cases of human West Nile virus illness in 42 states, with 76 fatalities, according to a report published Thursday in this week's issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Of the cases reported so far this year, 1,646 (55 percent) occurred males and the median age of patients was 51 years, with an age range of 15 months to 97 years.

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