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World Heart Federation Warns That Burden Of Tobacco Epidemic Continues To Worsen Societies And Economies

G-20 leaders pledged to provide the International Monetary Fund with $500
billion to help struggling economies, sparking global controversy. Yet
startling research shows that the combined costs of tobacco-related death and
related productivity losses, healthcare expenditures, employee absenteeism,
and widespread environmental harm are responsible for draining the same
amount – $500 billion – from the global economy each year and it receives
much less attention than it deserves.

In recognition of World No Tobacco Day on 31st May, the World Heart
Federation insists on bringing more attention to the impact of tobacco on
health and disease. Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death and
is closely linked to cardiovascular disease, which is the leading cause of
death worldwide. In 2010, it is estimated that six million people will die
from the effects of tobacco – more than from HIV/AIDS, malaria and
tuberculosis combined – and nearly three-quarters (72%) will be in low- and
middle-income countries. Using tobacco causes clogging of the arteries, heart
disease, stroke, sudden death and heart failure.

Dr. Pekka Puska, President of the World Heart Federation stated: “This
year we embrace the WHO theme of tobacco health warnings and demand that the
tobacco industry display pictorial warnings on all tobacco packages in order
to clearly and effectively communicate tobacco’s deadly consequences.”

Studies show that pictorial warnings work: they effectively motivate
users to quit and reduce the appeal of tobacco for those who are not yet
addicted. The World Heart Federation supports its members around the world to
advocate for pictorial labeling, working with Ministries of Health, the media
and businesses. But 9 out of 10 people live in countries that do not require
warnings with pictures on tobacco packages.

One successful example is in the Caribbean. Debbie Chen, Executive
Director of the Heart Foundation of Jamaica, coordinates a coalition of
partners, which includes the Heart and Stroke Foundation of the Barbados and
the InterAmerican Heart Foundation, with a Bloomberg Award grant for Global
Tobacco Control. She said: “We were convinced that labeling could help us
when we read research from other countries. We have accelerated the process
in the region and are determining which warnings will have the strongest
impact in four Caribbean countries.”

Worldwide, tobacco control is one of the simplest ways to reduce
cardiovascular disease; in low-resource settings its feasibility and
cost-effectiveness only magnifies its importance.

About World No Tobacco Day and Warnings

To know more about the World No Tobacco Day, and download toolkits,
please visit: To know more about the
Framework Convention, please visit: fctc. To know more about
countries that are working on ensuring tobacco products have pictorial
labels, please visit: tobaccolabels/labelima

World Heart Federation

Wellgate For Women Provides Support For Athletes And Winter Sports

Whether women are ice skating, skiing, playing ice hockey, snowboarding, or simply running on the treadmill at home, the right support is important to fully enjoy all winter activities. Simply walking on ice and through snow can be stressful for women’s limbs and requires the right support to help prevent injury and fractures, such as the specially-designed braces crafted by Wellgate for Women.

“From cross-country skiing to speed skating, active women should have the best support possible in order to perform at their best,” said NYC Physical Therapist, Megan Barclay. “Winter sports can be utterly brutal, and Wellgate’s braces and supports can give women the edge they need to win, or just have a good time, on the slopes and in the rink.”

Braces and supports made for men simply don’t do the job, as women’s bodies respond to stresses and pressures differently as a result of different body structures. For instance, women are more susceptible to ankle injuries since they have narrower feet than men, and their heels – in particular – are narrower compared to the front of the foot.

“Winter sports such as skating and skiing are all about having the right equipment,” said April Elsinger, Brand Manager for Wellgate. “Our Ultra-Light Knee Support fits comfortably under clothes, is specifically contoured to fit women’s bodies and is available in various sizes, included Queen size. We want to see women do their very best and not have to worry about the fit of their equipment.”

“Women need support for their wrists, ankles, and knees and we provide special braces and supports for all three,” said Elsinger. “From snowboarding to curling to simply surfing the internet, we’ve got women covered where they need it most.”

Wellgate products are available at Wal-Mart stores throughout the U.S. and Canada and other retailers nationwide. Visit wellgateproducts.

Wellgate for Women

Statistical Technique To Find Mix Of Biomarkers Predicting Mortality Used By Researchers

Previous research has uncovered a range of biological markers that can predict disability, morbidity and mortality in older adults. In this study, the researchers analyzed 13 biomarkers representing neuroendocrine and vascular functions and immune and metabolic activity over 12 years in 1,189 high-functioning men and women aged 70-79 enrolled in the MacArthur Study of Successful Aging. The goals were to identify biomarker combinations (or high-risk pathways) associated with high levels of mortality in men and women, determine whether the biomarkers that most closely predicted mortality differed in men and women and develop prediction rules based on combinations of biomarker conditions. The researchers also sought to present “recursive partitioning,” a statistical technique for identifying multiple and interacting predictors of an outcome, as a useful analytical tool for addressing research questions in the biomedical sciences. Using recursive partitioning, they found that combinations of neuroendocrine and immune markers frequently appeared in high-risk male pathways, while systolic blood pressure was present, in combination with other biomarkers, in high-risk female pathways.

IMPACT: Clinicians and researchers may be able to use recursive partitioning to identify the biological regulatory system’s importance in predicting mortality in later life.


AUTHORS: Tara L. Gruenewald, Teresa E. Seeman and Arun S. Karlamangla of UCLA; Carol D. Ryff of the University of Wisconsin, Madison; and Burton H. Singer of the Institute on Aging at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and the Office of Population Research, Princeton University.

JOURNAL: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Sept. 19 issue.

FUNDERS: National Institute on Aging; the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Contact: Enrique Rivero

University of California – Los Angeles

Swine Flu In Somerset – Briefing Note, UK

Public health experts throughout the UK and Somerset are now implementing new national guidance regarding the treatment and management of swine flu in the UK.

Up until last week, public health doctors in Somerset had seen few ‘confirmed’ cases of swine flu (only eight confirmed cases by 1st July) and were still implementing a process called ‘containment’.

This involved isolating individuals who believed they might be infected with swine flu (asking them to remain at home); mouth swab testing them and sending their swab sample for laboratory testing and virus confirmation.

Close contacts of anyone ‘confirmed’ with the H1N1 swine flu virus were being offered the antiviral drug, Tamiflu as a precautionary measure.

Symptoms of swine flu are similar to the symptoms of regular seasonal flu and include fever, fatigue, lack of appetite, coughing, sore throat, pain in muscles and joints, headache and chills. Some people with swine flu have also reported vomiting and diarrhoea.

Public health doctors are still stressing that in most confirmed cases of swine flu the patient has displayed only mild symptoms. The infection is ‘self limiting’ and the majority of patients recover quickly after resting at home.

Since Thursday 2nd July and following an announcement by the Secretary of State for Health, Andy Burnham and the Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, the Health Protection Agency and Somerset’s public health services are only implementing a ‘treatment’ response to any clinically diagnosed cases of swine flu. (‘clinically’ diagnosed means a GP believes the symptoms shown by the patient look like swine flu)

The ‘Treatment’ Phase

This ‘treatment’ phase means that from now on:

- GPs will be able to diagnose and treat swine flu on the basis of patients’ symptoms rather having to waiting for ‘confirmation’ via
laboratory results

- The routine tracing of people who have come into contact with confirmed cases of swine flu will end. However people considered to be at high risk by their doctor may still be offered antivirals in some situations as a preventive measure.

- Schools and other institutions will close only if local circumstances warrant it, for example if a significant number of pupils or teachers are ill.

Advice To The Public To Reduce The Spread Of The Swine Flu Virus

- To help limit the spread of swine flu it’s important to make sure that if you have symptoms, you don’t leave the house – don’t visit
your GP or hospital – you should phone your GP or call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47 or go to the website nhs

- Hygiene measures are important to help to reduce the spread of all viruses, including the swine flu virus. This includes:

* Covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing and using a tissue when possible
* Disposing of dirty tissues promptly and carefully

* Maintaining good basic hygiene, for example washing hands frequently with soap and water to reduce the spread of the virus
from your hands to your face or to other people
* Cleaning hard surfaces (such as door handles) frequently using a normal cleaning product.
- If you’re not poorly and do not have any symptoms there’s no reason that you shouldn’t continue to go about your daily routine.


View drug information on Tamiflu capsule.

States Begin Taking Steps To Address Collective $1 Trillion Unfunded Retiree Health Care Liability

State and local governments have begun to take “aggressive steps” to reduce liabilities of more than $1 trillion for health benefits for about 25 million current and future retirees as a result of a new accounting rule that took effect on Friday, USA Today reports (Cauchon, USA Today, 12/18). Under the rule, established by the Governmental Accounting Standards
Board, state and local governments for the first time must report their current and future liabilities for health and other benefits — such as dental, vision and life insurance. State and local governments must pay their liabilities over a 30-year period (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 11/2). In response to the rule, state and local governments have begun to reduce retiree health benefits, allocate funds to cover future liabilities and shift costs to Medicare. For example:The West Virginia pension board on Wednesday plans to vote on a measure that would shift prescription drug coverage for retirees to Medicare;

North Carolina will require state employees hired after Oct. 1 to work 20 years, rather than five years, to qualify for full health benefits;

The San Diego City Council this month eliminated retiree health benefits for some city employees; and

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R) plans to propose a $245 million trust fund to help cover liabilities for retiree health benefits, and Georgia, New York City, Vermont and Virginia have established or considered similar trust funds.Ted Cheatham, director of the West Virginia Public Employees Insurance Agency, said, “By tackling this early, we hope to save money in the long run.” Charles Agerstrand, a retirement consultant for the Michigan Education Association, said, “These benefits are affordable as long as we do something now. If not, we’re heading for a major collision” (USA Today, 12/18).

“Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork/dailyreports/healthpolicy. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation . © 2005 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

Public Employers Must Disclose Retiree Medical Benefits Costs After Dec. 15, According To New Rule

The Wall Street Journal on Thursday examined a new Governmental Accounting Standards Board rule, set to take effect the first fiscal year beginning after Dec. 15, that will require public employers to disclose costs of retiree medical benefits (Mincer, Wall Street Journal, 11/9). Under the rule, public agencies will have to report the current and future costs of health care and other benefits — such as dental, vision and life insurance — for the nation’s estimated 24.5 million public employees. GASB, a not-for-profit organization that establishes accounting standards for public agencies, created the rules in 2004 and allowed governments several years to put them in place. Under the rules, states must pay their liabilities over a 30-year period. If state officials choose not to earmark funds to cover the payments each year, the liabilities will count against the state’s net assets (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 11/2). The new rule applies to state and local government employees, teachers, and county and city employees. Public employers with a minimum of $100 million in annual revenue will have to begin reporting the data the first fiscal year beginning after Dec. 15, while those with revenue of $10 million to $100 million have to report beginning by the same date in 2007. Employers with revenue under $10 million have until after Dec. 15, 2008. According to the Journal, in order to meet the new standard, “many states and cities will have no choice but to increase taxes and reduce services and benefits to meet these costs” (Wall Street Journal, 11/9).

“Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork/dailyreports/healthpolicy. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation . © 2005 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

American Medical Systems’ GreenLight HPS® Approved For Use In Japan

American Medical Systems® (AMS) (NASDAQ: AMMD), a leading provider of world-class devices and therapies for male and female pelvic health, announced it has received clearance from the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW) to market and distribute its GreenLight HPS® laser therapy system for the treatment of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), or enlarged prostate, in Japan.

As the worldwide market leader in laser BPH treatment, AMS’ GreenLight provides treatment with fewer side effects than TURP, improving clinical outcomes and patient safety for individuals with mild to severe BPH symptoms. The system is designed to enable the treatment of a wide range of gland sizes, as well as for patients on anti-coagulation therapy.

“We are thrilled to offer this leading-edge technology to provide a safer and less-invasive BPH treatment for Japanese men,” said Mike Ryan, AMS’ vice president and general manager for Asia Pacific, Latin America and Canada. “The approval of GreenLight represents a significant opportunity in Japan, as BPH is one of the most common diseases among older Japanese men, with the number of treatment procedures growing by over 4 percent each year.”

GreenLight’s high performance system (HPS) delivers efficient procedure times and the ability to treat large glands. The system will be offered in Japan through an exclusive distribution agreement with MC Medical, Inc., a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Corporation and a leading supplier of minimally invasive medical devices and supplies in Japan.

“Over 500,000 patients worldwide have been treated with GreenLight and with nearly 4 million men suffering from moderate to severe BPH symptoms in Japan, this is a great opportunity for us to help a growing population,” Ryan said. “Not only does this expansion strengthen AMS’ global presence but it also allows us to leverage MC Medical’s highly regarded reputation within the Japanese urological community and its sales organization to reach key academic and private medical centers throughout the country.”

Source: American Medical Systems

New Book Argues That Biotechnology Needs 21st Century Patent System

Biotechnology discoveries – like the method for creating synthetic life forms – are at risk of being unduly hindered or taken hostage by private corporations unless patent systems are brought into the 21st century, an expert from The Australian National University argues.

Dr Matthew Rimmer from the ANU College of Law takes a broad look at the current state of international regulation around intellectual property rights and biological inventions in his new book – and the prognosis is far from healthy.

“Most patent systems around the world were developed during the industrial revolution, which means they’re ill equipped to deal with more complex range of inventions arising out of life sciences – things like man-made micro-organisms, GM plants, the human genome and stem cells,” Dr Rimmer says.

Dr Rimmer says that patent systems provide protections around inventions provided they satisfy criteria to do with novelty, an inventive step and utility. But he argues that such legal tools are not nuanced enough for biotechnical innovation, where inventions can be at once more intellectually subtle and morally ambiguous.

“When it comes to biotechnology, our antiquated patent systems can have detrimental consequences – either hampering the freedom of researchers to take full advantage of experimental use and the possibilities for innovation, or giving a lot of control over living things to a very small group of people.”

Dr Rimmer laments the rise of ‘patent trolls’ – companies that take out patents on very slight biotechnical innovations, and then hold other researchers to ransom if they attempt to make any progress in that particular area.

On the other hand, he acknowledges the legal and ethical complexities surrounding the actions of scientists like those at the J. Craig Venter Institute in the US, who are trying to patent the method for creating a synthetic life-form. While the organism involved is incredibly simple, Dr Rimmer says such moves could lead to patents being taken out on much more complex living things.

Dr Rimmer argues that in order to provide more incentives and protections for scientific innovation, there needs to be greater scope in Australia and elsewhere for challenges to patent applications. He also says there is a need for a broader legal defence of experimentation. Finally, Dr Rimmer argues that thresholds need to be raised to make it harder to get a patent, which would be a blow to ‘patent trolls’.


Dr Matthew Rimmer’s book: Intellectual Proptery and Biotechnology: Biological Inventions.

Source: Simon Couper

Research Australia

Hip/Knee Replacements Costs Expected To Skyrocket In Future Years, USA

The number of joint replacement procedures and their associated hospital charges are growing explosively in the U.S. and the numbers are projected to increase over the next decade, a recent study suggests. A researcher from Florida International University (FIU) analyzed the recent trend of hip/knee replacement loads followed by the projection of the costs associated to the surgery in the year 2020 in the U.S.

The national bill of hospital charges for primary hip/knee replacements were 22.9 billion in 2004 compared to 10.8 billion dollars in the year 2000. If current trends continue, in the year 2020, hospital charges will reach nearly 120 billion dollars for the 712,000 and 2 million primary hip and knee replacements, respectively.

“The number of joint replacement procedures is growing faster than ever since 1999,” stated Dr. Sunny Kim, Assistant Professor at FIU. “The health care community should consider and prepare for this upcoming demand of surgical loads and its associated economical burden.”

A major component of the economic burden associated with the treatment of arthritis relates to surgical joint replacements of the hips or knees. When non-surgical treatment modalities have proved unsuccessful, surgical treatment is then considered for pain reduction.

This study and others will be presented at the International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research (ISPOR) 12th Annual International Meeting in Arlington, Virginia and published in the journal Value in Health 10(3).

Value in Health (ISSN 1098-3015) publishes papers, concepts, and ideas that advance the field of pharmacoeconomics and outcomes research and help health care leaders to make decisions that are solidly evidence-based. The journal is published bi-monthly and has a regular readership of over 3,000 clinicians, decision-makers, and researchers worldwide.


ISPOR is a nonprofit, international organization that strives to translate pharmacoeconomics and outcomes research into practice to ensure that society allocates scarce health care resources wisely, fairly, and efficiently.


Liver-kidney Transplant Reduces Organ Rejection, Boosts Recovery: UCLA Study Finds Measurable Benefits To Patients

New UCLA research shows that combined liver-kidney transplants appear to benefit patients with diseases in both organs, including patients with potentially reversible kidney failure who have been receiving dialysis for longer than two months. The Archives of Surgery will publish the findings in its August issue.

“Our study indicates that a combined liver-kidney transplant is the procedure of choice for patients suffering end-stage disease in both the liver and kidneys,” explained Dr. Ronald Busuttil, professor and chair of surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “For the first time, it also appears that a dual-organ transplant can help liver-disease patients with temporary kidney dysfunction.”

Hepatorenal syndrome — potentially reversible kidney failure caused by cirrhosis or another liver disease — is often treated by liver transplant alone, not a combined procedure. As waiting times for organs rise, however, hepatorenal-syndrome patients face an increased risk of developing a chronic, irreversible condition that may require a combination transplant.

Busuttil and his colleagues reviewed data from 98 patients who underwent 99 combined liver-kidney transplants at the Dumont-UCLA Transplant Center in the Pfleger Liver Institute from 1988 to 2004. The patients’ average age was 46 years; 76 suffered from primary kidney diseases and 22 had hepatorenal syndrome.

For comparison, the researchers also reviewed data from 148 patients with hepatorenal syndrome who underwent only a liver transplant between 1998 and 2002, and 743 patients who received only a kidney transplant.

Of the 99 combined-transplant patients, 31 had died. The survival rates at one, three and five years after surgery were 76, 72 and 70 percent, respectively. None of the risk factors analyzed by the UCLA team, including donor characteristics, recipient age or previous transplants, influenced the patient’s survival rate after surgery.

A review of organ survival rates in combination-transplant patients showed that 70 percent of the transplanted livers and 76 percent of the transplanted kidneys survived after one year. After three years, 65 percent of the livers and 72 percent of the kidneys survived; and after five years, 65 percent of the livers and 70 percent of the kidneys survived.

Among those who underwent only kidney transplants, 23 percent of the kidneys were rejected by the recipient’s body after one year, compared with 14 percent of those who had liver-kidney transplants.

In hepatorenal syndrome patients, those undergoing dialysis — the use of a machine to perform the blood filtration normally handled by the kidneys — for longer than two months before surgery recovered better after the combined transplant than patients who received only liver transplants.

“We used to recommend combined liver-kidney transplantation when patients received dialysis for longer than one month before transplantation,” said Busuttil. “Based on our current findings, however, we found that the acuteness of renal failure subsided after two months of dialysis. A combined transplant after this time will improve patient survival and also reduce hospital expenditures for patient care.

“Our evaluation shows that combined kidney-liver transplantation performed at a high-volume academic transplant center offers the best option for patients with simultaneous chronic liver and kidney failure,” he concluded.


Busuttil’s coauthors at UCLA included Dr. Hiroko Kunitake, Dr. Alan Wilkinson, Dr. Gabriel Danovitch, Dr. Douglas Farmer, Dr. R. Mark Ghobrial, Dr. Hasan Yersiz, Dr. Jonathan Hiatt, and Dr. Richard Ruiz, now of Baylor University in Dallas. The research was supported by the Dumont Foundation and George T. Pfleger Foundation.

Contact: Elaine Schmidt

University of California – Los Angeles