Health Highlights: Oct. 1, 2013

By on October 1, 2013

Health Highlights: Oct. 1, 2013

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

Waterborne Bacteria Infection Kills Fla. Man

A rare infection with a type of bacteria found in water is being blamed for the death of a Florida man.

Henry Konietzky, 59, died last Monday less than 48 hours after being infected with Vibrio vulnificus, a type of bacteria in the same family as cholera that lives in warm saltwater bodes, CBS News reported.

He had been crab fishing in the Halifax River near Ormond Beach, Fla. the previous Saturday. He started feeling ill on Sunday and went to the emergency room.

V. vulnificus infections can occur when a person eats contaminated seafood or when the bacteria enters the body through an open wound. Infection can cause abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea. The bacteria can also infect the blood stream and the death rate is 50 percent in such cases.

Infections with V. vulnificus are rare, but may be underreported, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It said there were more than 900 reports of the bacteria in Gulf Coast states between 1988 and 2006, CBS News reported.


FDA Approves New Antidepressant

The drug Brintellix has been approved to treat depression, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Monday.

“Major depressive disorder can be disabling and can keep a person from functioning normally,” Dr. Mitchell Mathis, acting director of the division of psychiatry products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a news release. “Since medications affect everyone differently, it is important to have a variety of treatment options available for patients who suffer from depression.”

The approval was based on the results of six clinical trials where Brintellix (vortioxetine) was pitted against a placebo medication, the agency said. FDA officials also looked at a seventh study that found the medication lowered the chances of a recurrence after patients were treated successfully for an initial bout of depression.

Side effects seen during the trials included nausea, constipation and vomiting. Like other antidepressants already on the market, Brintellix will carry a “black box” warning that states these medications can raise the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior in adolescents and young adults who take them, the FDA said.

The hallmarks of depression include loss of interest in daily activities, weight changes, insomnia or the opposite, restlessness, slowed thinking or impaired concentration and suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

Marketed by Takeda Pharmaceuticals and Lundbeck, both based in Deerfield, Ill., Brintellix will be sold in 5 milligram (mg), 10 mg, 15 mg and 20 mg tablets. Doctors should watch any patients starting on antidepressants for a worsening of symptoms, according to the FDA.


New Lung Cancer Drug Shows Promise: Study

A experimental drug shows promise in fighting lung cancer in difficult-to-treat patients, according to a new study.

An early-stage clinical trial of 53 patients who took Roche’s MPDL3280A found that those whose tumors were reduced had a median response of 48 weeks, and all but one are “still in response,” said Jean-Charles Soria, who led the research at the Gustave Roussy Institute in Paris, Bloomberg News reported.

The drug — which is given by infusion once every three weeks — was most effective in patients with the highest levels of a protein called PD-L1. The drug blocks PD-L1, which prevents the immune system from attacking cancer cells.

The study findings were presented at the European Cancer Congress. Roche has started late-stage trials of MPDL3280A in combination with its own test for identifying which patients would benefit most from the drug, Bloomberg reported.

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