Health Highlights: July 6, 2009

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

FDA Approves Drug for Advanced Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

The chemotherapy drug Alimta can be used as a maintenance treatment for advanced cases of non-small cell lung cancer, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Monday. Non-small cell lung cancer is the most common form of the disease.

Drugmaker Eli Lilly and Co. said the drug will be used after an initial round of chemotherapy to prevent disease progression, the Associated Press reported.

The FDA's approval of this new use of Alimta was based on a study of 600 patients.

WHAT TO KNOW
    • FDA Approves Drug for Advanced Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer
    • Laser Treatment Shows Promise Against Vision Loss
    • Utility Knife Blades Found in Energy Drinks

"This drug represents a new approach in the treatment of advanced non-small cell lung cancer," Dr. Richard Pazdur, director of the Office of Oncology Drug Products in the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a news release. "Typically, patients whose tumors respond to chemotherapy do not receive further treatment after four-to-six chemotherapy cycles. This study demonstrates an advantage in overall survival in certain patients who received Alimta for maintenance therapy."

Alimta (pemetrexed) was introduced in 2004 and was already approved for use alone or in combination with other chemotherapies to treat two other types of advanced lung cancer and mesothelioma, a cancer linked to asbestos exposure, the AP reported.

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Laser Treatment Shows Promise Against Vision Loss

A new laser treatment may help prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness among elderly people in the western world.

Improvements to sight were reported in about 50 people with diabetic eye disease who took part in early proof of concept trials, BBC News reported. Diabetic eye disease was used as a model in the tests because eye problems develop faster than in AMD, which affects central vision.

The painless laser treatment, developed by Professor John Marshall of King's College London, restores the back of the eye to a youthful condition. It does this by clearing away a build-up of natural waste materials produced by light-sensitive cells. As people age, the eyes' system for clearing away the waste materials can fail.

"If it is shown to work it is an extremely exciting development and potentially a real breakthrough," a spokeswoman for the Macular Disease Society in the U.K. told BBC News. "It will not sadly be useful in those who have already lost their sight to AMD, but it may have great hope for the future."

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Utility Knife Blades Found in Energy Drinks

Consumers should avoid Hardcore Energize Bullet drink and New Whey liquid products because utility knife blades were found in one container each of the energy drinks, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The apparent case of tampering has prompted a recall of the products, which are sold in test-tube like vials. No injuries have been reported, the Associated Press reported.

New Whey, which is made and sold in the United States by IDS of Oviedo, Fla., comes in two flavors -- blue raspberry and fruit punch. Hardcore Energize Bullet is made by Protica Inc., of Whitehall, Pa., and is sold in Canada in two flavors, Black Rush and Blue Rage.

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