Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Giffords Likely to Attend Space Shuttle Launch: Doctors
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' ability to walk and talk is improving
and there is a good chance she'll be able to attend astronaut
husband Mark Kelly's space shuttle launch in April, her doctors
The medical team at TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston,
where she has been undergoing rehabilitation, also said that
Giffords has been told that she was shot. Her memory is improving,
but she does not recall the shooting rampage, the
Associated Press reported.
The doctors described several milestones in the congresswoman's
recovery in recent weeks, including the removal of her breathing
tube and her improving ability to walk with assistance and talk in
"I'm very happy to report that she's making leaps and bounds in terms of neurological recovery," said Dr. Dong Kim, according to the AP report.
Giffords is displaying emotion at times, including smiles when
she achieves key advances in her recovery, he added.
"She has a personality that's already showing through," Kim said. "She's very upbeat, focused on getting better. She hasn't shown us depression, and she's just been very forward-looking and even with the speech she's not showing much frustration."
Giffords was shot in the head Jan. 8 while she hosted a
political event outside a grocery store in Tucson, Ariz. The
attacker killed six people and wounded 12 others.
Rabbi David Lyon, who visits Giffords three times a week, also
said her speech was improving.
"There are words that are becoming clearer and opportunities to communicate are increasing," he told the AP.
Any decision on Giffords' trip to the Florida launch of
Endeavour, which Kelly will command, will be based on her ability
to move independently, how much assistance is available to her, and
whether she is capable of handling the hectic setting of an
airport, her medical team said, according to
Seroquel Settlement Costs AstraZeneca $68.5 Million
In what's believed to be the largest multi-state pharmaceutical
settlement of its kind, AstraZeneca will pay $68.5 million to
settle out-of-court allegations that it promoted the psychiatric
drug Seroquel for unapproved uses.
The money will be paid to 37 states and the District of
Associated Press reported.
The states alleged that AstraZeneca promoted Seroquel for
insomnia, Alzheimer's and other off-label uses. The drug was
approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat
schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression.
"Consumers rightfully expect pharmaceutical companies to engage in responsible marketing efforts that are consistent with approved purposes," said Thomas Calcagni, acting director of New Jersey's division of consumer affairs, the AP reported.
Extracurricular Activities Reduce Teen Pot Use: Study
Participation in extracurricular activities reduces the
likelihood of marijuana use by nearly one-half in teen girls and by
more than one-quarter in teen boys, says a new study.
The analysis of data from about 4,500 Connecticut high school
students also found that younger students and those with good
grades were also less likely to use marijuana, said the Yale
University School of Medicine researchers.
Teens who smoked, drank alcohol and used other substances were
more likely to use marijuana. Other behaviors linked to marijuana
use included fighting, carrying a weapon, depressed mood and any
form of self-harm.
More than 40 percent of the teens in the study said they had
used marijuana at some time in their life and 24.5 percent said
they had used it within the last 30 days. Boys were more likely
than girls to report lifetime use (42 vs. 39 percent) and
past-month use (27 vs. 22 percent).
The study appears in the March issue of the
Journal of Addiction Medicine.
Deal Increases FDA Oversight of McNeil Plants
Greater federal oversight at three plants involved in recalls of
children's Tylenol and other widely used over-the-counter medicines
is part of an agreement reached between the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration and McNeil Consumer Healthcare, a unit of Johnson
The deal was reached Thursday and covers plants in Fort
Washington, Pa, Lancaster, Pa., and Las Piedras, Puerto Rico,
The New York Times reported. The FDA said manufacturing
practices at the plants failed to comply with federal law.
The agency said the agreement requires Johnson & Johnson to
hire an independent expert to assess whether operations at the
plants meet federal standards and to ensure that quality systems
are in place.
The FDA would also have the authority to force McNeil to halt
manufacturing of medicines or to launch recalls. The agreement
needs to be approved by a federal judge.
"Weve had a long engagement with McNeil over the last year with regard to their quality system," Douglas Stearn, an FDA official who helps oversee compliance by drug makers, told The Times. "We think this represents necessary important steps to assuring quality across the board."