E-health system stalled
THREE months after Medicare started the $90 million mandatory Healthcare Identifier (HI) system it is yet to sign a contract for service delivery, according to a report in The Australian. The original $57 million, 2-year contract for Medicare to design and build the system on behalf of National E-Health Transition Authority expired in January. The HI system is largely lying idle, as software developers await final specifications from Medicare so they can build product interfaces for software used by doctors.

Smokers quit after tax hike
THE 25% hike in tobacco excise by the federal government led about 300 000 Australians to quit smoking in the following 2 months, prompting a call for more cigarette tax rises, according to a report in the Canberra Times. A Galaxy Research survey commissioned by pharmaceutical company Pfizer found that 1.2 million, or 38%, of smokers attempted to quit the habit after the surprise tax increase at the end of April compared with 29% who attempted to quit in the 3 months before the tax hike.

New restrictions for rosiglitazone
REGULATORS in Europe and the United States are moving to withdraw or severely restrict sales of the diabetes drug rosiglitazone (Avandia, GlaxoSmithKline) over concerns about increased heart attack risk, the ABC has reported. The manufacturer has also been ordered to pay for an independent review after its safety study came under withering criticism.

Fraudulent doctor gets UK medical school job
A MAN with criminal convictions in Australia for pretending to be a doctor has conned his way into a position at one of the most prestigious medical schools in Britain, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. Sarajevo-born Vitomir Zepinic used fraudulent documentation and references to gain a position as a senior lecturer in psychiatry at the Unit for Social and Community Psychiatry at Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry.

Bowel cancer test future in doubt
A FEDERAL government-funded test to detect bowel cancer will wind up in December, according to a report on the ABC. The report said the Health Department would not say if any cancer-related program would run after December. Currently the government is funding tests for people turning 50 between January 2008 and December 2010, and those turning 55 or 65 between July 2008 and December 2010.

Report shows rich live longer
A NEW report shows the rich in Australia live an average 3 years longer than the poor, and socioeconomic status is a more accurate predictor of a person’s chances of dying from cardiovascular disease than blood pressure, cholesterol levels and smoking combined, according to The Australian. The report Health Lies in Wealth, released by Catholic Health Australia, finds 65% of those on the lowest incomes suffer from a long-term health problem compared to just 15% of the highest income bands.

Poor parenting linked to mental health
AN AUSTRALIAN study has revealed the clear link between poor parenting and children who go on to experience mental health problems, according to a report in The Age. Research by the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) shows roughly double the rate of depression and anxiety among young adults who also report an abusive or unsupportive upbringing.

Call for vaccination surveillance
EXPERTS have called for a national vaccination surveillance scheme after delays in official responses to an outbreak of convulsions among recently vaccinated infants exposed differences between federal and state health authorities, according to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald. The federal health department has put some of the blame on the Western Australian Department of Health following criticism over the time it took to clearly identify CSL’s Fluvax vaccine as the likely culprit.

Less invasive approach works in early breast cancer
SOME breast cancer patients may do as well with less invasive surgery than aggressive surgery, according to a North American study reported in The Australian. The study, published in Lancet Oncology, compared removing selected lymph nodes and the more aggressive procedure of removing them all. Patients whose breast cancer was in an early stage did not need the more interventionist surgery to live longer.

New anticoagulant drug gets US approval
A US Food and Drug Administration panel has unanimously recommended that the FDA approve the blood-thinning drug dabigatran (Pradaxa, Boehringer Ingelheim) as a potential replacement for warfarin in patients with atrial fibrillation, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Posted 27 September 2010

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