Health Highlights: March 19, 2009

The new study found that patients taking Multaq had a 24 percent decrease in the combined risk of hospitalization for heart problems and death from any cause. Last year, Sanofi resubmitted its application for FDA approval of the drug.

In a 10-3 vote, the panel of outside medical experts recommended FDA approval of Multaq, the newspaper reported. The FDA isn't required to approve the drug, but generally follows its advisory panels' recommendations.

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U.S. Won't Prosecute Legal Medical Marijuana Distributors

The U.S. Justice Department won't prosecute medical marijuana dispensaries operating legally in more than a dozen states, a decision that represents a major shift from the Bush administration.

Medical marijuana advocates and civil libertarians welcomed the change in federal drug policy, announced Wednesday by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., the Los Angeles Times reported. There had been great speculation about how the Obama administration would handle the issue.

"Whatever questions are left, today's comments clearly represent a change in policy out of Washington. (Holder is) sending a clear message to the DEA," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance.

The Bush administration went after medical marijuana distributors even in states where medical marijuana use was legal for cancer patients and those with chronic pain or other serious conditions.

Holder said the Obama administration will still target people and organizations operating in violation of both federal and state law, the Times reported.

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