Health Highlights: April 2, 2008

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

British Scientists Create Embryos Combining Human Cells and Cow Eggs

A British scientist has created the world's first hybrid embryos, using human cells and a cow egg, according to Bloomberg News.

The procedure, which has been hotly debated in the UK Parliament during the past few months, was announced Tuesday by Newcastle University, where the lead scientist, Lyle Armstrong, and his research team said they had developed the eggs, which are designed to be the first step in creating embryonic human stem cells to fight disease.

WHAT TO KNOW
    • British Scientists Create Embryos Combining Human Cells and Cow Eggs
    • Drug Ads Should Tell Where to Report Side Effects: Petition
    • Midwest States Receive Fewest Public Health Dollars From CDC
    • Untreated Cavities More Common Among Low-Income Children
    • Repealing Motorcycle Helmet Laws Leads to More Deaths
    • Young Men More Likely to Misinterpret Friendly Behavior
    • New Strain of Deadly Water-Borne Disease Discovered in Peru

These eggs are not to be used for anything other than the development of human stem cells, according to Bloomberg News. But the idea that embryos could be developed from the cells of a human and a cow has ignited a political and ethical debate in the United Kingdom.

Edinburgh's Cardinal Keith O'Brien called the embryo creation "experiments of Frankenstein proportions,'' the news service said. But Newcastle University's head of the Institute of Human Genetics, John Burn, is quoted as saying that the embryo creation was just a first step to finding a way to create the best stem cells for human medical research.

"Cells grown using animal eggs cannot be used to treat patients on safety grounds, but they will help bring nearer the day when new stem cell therapies are available,'' he told Bloomberg News.

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Drug Ads Should Tell Where to Report Side Effects: Petition

Nearly 12 percent of Americans who've ever taken a prescription drug have suffered a side effect serious enough to send them to a doctor or hospital. But only 35 percent of consumers know they can report serious side effects to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, says a new Consumer Reports poll.

To help improve awareness, Consumers Union on Wednesday presented the FDA with a petition that has signatures from nearly 56,000 people who want an FDA toll-free number and Web site included in all TV drug ads. Consumers Union is the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports.

Last year, Congress said all print drug ads must carry FDA MedWatch reporting information, and told the FDA to conduct a study to determine if it was appropriate to include reporting information in TV drug ads. The report was due by the end of March but has not been completed.

"You can't turn on a TV today without seeing a drug ad, but those ads never mention that consumers should be reporting serious drug side effects to the FDA," Liz Foley, campaign coordinator with Consumers Union, said in a prepared statement. "What better way for the FDA to let consumers know how to report serious problems with their medications than putting a toll-free number and Web site in all those drug ads we're bombarded by each day?"

The Consumer Reports poll found that 87 percent of respondents said TV ads should contain reporting information.

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Midwest States Receive Fewest Public Health Dollars From CDC

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