Health Highlights: March 26, 2008

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

Lilly to Pay $15 Million to Settle Alaska Zyprexa Lawsuit

In what's seen as a surprise announcement, Eli Lilly and the state of Alaska announced Wednesday that the drug maker has agreed to pay $15 million to settle a state lawsuit claiming its schizophrenia drug Zyprexa caused users to develop diabetes.

The announcement comes three weeks into a trial in Anchorage. The case hadn't reached the jury, but it was expected that closing arguments would take place this week, The New York Times reported.

WHAT TO KNOW
    • Lilly to Pay $15 Million to Settle Alaska Zyprexa Lawsuit
    • FDA Issues Draft Guidelines for Drug-Eluting Stents
    • New Yorkers Gain 10 Million Pounds in Two Years
    • Three More Countries Recall Heparin
    • FDA Warns Men Not to Use 'Blue Steel' or 'Hero' Products
    • Switching Off Genes May Put Cancers to Sleep: Study

In the statement released Wednesday, Lilly did not admit wrongdoing.

The state of Alaska sued Lilly to recover the cost of medical care allegedly generated by Medicaid patients who developed diabetes while taking Zyprexa. A number of other states have sued Lilly with similar claims, or are taking part in settlement talks led by federal prosecutors in Pennsylvania.

Lilly has already shelled out $1.2 billion to settle 30,000 individual lawsuits from people who said they developed diabetes while taking Zyprexa, the Times reported. Since the drug was introduced in the U.S. in 1996, more than 23 million people have taken it.

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FDA Issues Draft Guidelines for Drug-Eluting Stents

Draft guidelines to help in the development, testing and manufacture of coronary drug-eluting stents were issued Wednesday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Stents are hollow mesh cylinders used to prop open arteries that were once blocked. Drug-eluting stents have a coating that slowly releases a drug to prevent the growth of scar tissue.

For more than two years, there has been growing concern about the possibility of dangerous clot formation in some patients. Since 2006 when such concerns were raised, medical societies have urged patients to take anti-clotting drugs for at least a year after the devices are implanted, the Associated Press reported.

The proposed guidelines recommend that the device manufacturers conduct large, analytic studies of the devices, the AP said.

The guidelines also include a recommendation that a device maker should track patients for up to five years after a drug-eluting stent receives FDA approval, the wire service said. Public comment on the draft guidelines is being accepted for 120 days.

The FDA has so far sanctioned drug-coated stents made by three manufacturers: Boston Scientific, Medtronic, and Johnson & Johnson. Each year in the United States, about 650,000 patients receive this type of stent.

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New Yorkers Gain 10 Million Pounds in Two Years

The Big Apple is getting much bigger.

Between 2002 and 2004, New York City residents gained a total of more than 10 million pounds, about 173,500 residents became obese, and more than 73,000 were diagnosed with diabetes, says a study by the city's health department.

During those two years, the city's rates of obesity and diagnosed diabetes both increased by 17 percent, compared to a six percent increase in obesity and no increase in diabetes diagnoses nationwide.

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