Haikerwal top doc
DR Mukesh Haikerwal, who narrowly survived a vicious assault, now heads the World Medical Association, and says it was the attack that spurred him to go for the top job, The Age reports. Dr Haikerwal’s rise to the international leadership of his profession comes less than 3 years after a baseball-bat-wielding gang fractured his skull and left him with severe brain injuries in a Melbourne park. “It stirred my passion, to be honest,” he said, after his election as chairman of the 95-nation strong association at its conference in Sydney.

Cancer drug delay
RETIRED surgeon Tom Hugh says he did not hesitate when it came to paying $2800 a fortnight for his wife Marie to have the latest drug for bowel cancer, The Age reports. He said the federal government should not delay implementing an expert recommendation to subsidise the targeted chemotherapy drug, cetuximab. The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee recommended last July that cetuximabbe subsidised but the federal government has held off listing Erbitux and seven other drugs also recommended for inclusion on the PBS.

Prostate infection danger
DANGEROUS infections are becoming more common among men given biopsies to find out whether they have prostate cancer ― a trend experts warn may tilt the balance of risks and benefits further away from the procedure, The Australian reports. Infectious diseases experts say the harms of testing asymptomatic men for prostate cancer may be even greater, because of what they say is a rising number of serious, even fatal bloodstream infections.

$6 million awarded
A LANDMARK $6.44 million payout was expected to be awarded to a 6-year-old boy who allegedly suffered brain injury during birth and was later diagnosed with severe spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, the Courier Mail reports. It will be the largest sum paid out for such a case in Queensland. Simone and Steven Ward lodged the claim on behalf of their son Zac for personal injuries and consequential loss as a result of alleged negligence by Dr Robert Watson and private hospital operator HCoA Operations (Australia) Pty Ltd.

Smoking packet war
BRITISH American Tobacco Australia (BATA) says it will launch a court challenge against proposed plain packaging laws for cigarettes, ABC News reports. The federal government wants to stop tobacco companies from putting logos or brands on cigarette packages from mid 2012. BATA says the legislation would unfairly deprive tobacco companies of their intellectual property rights and drive up smoking rates.

Food allergy “epidemic”
THE record rate of childhood food allergy in Australia could represent a “second wave” of allergic illness, following the now waning epidemic of asthma seen in the 1990s, The Australian reports. Gastroenterologist and allergy specialist Dr Katie Allen has warned that studies show 10% of children as young as 12 months have inflammatory responses to various foods, making Australia the world’s food allergy capital.

WHO antibiotic warning
THE World Health Organization has warned that drug resistance fuelled partly by a misuse of antibiotics is killing hundreds of thousands of people a year and that urgent action was needed on the issue, news.com.au reports. “We’re really seeing an accelerated evolution in the spread of this problem and the bottom line is that the problem is outpacing the solutions,” said Keiji Fukuda, WHO assistant director general.

Alcohol cancer link
DRINKING more than a pint of beer a day can substantially increase the risk of some cancers, BBC News reports. A large study reported in the BMJ found that one in 10 of all cancers in men and one in 33 of all cancers in women are caused by past or current alcohol intake.

Jump in CT scans
THE number of computed tomography scans performed on children visiting hospital emergency rooms in the United States has increased fivefold in recent years, the New York Times reports. A study published online in the journal Radiology found that CT scans were performed in almost 6% of all children’s emergency department visits in 2008, compared with about 1% in 1995.

Eye in a dish
A PART of the eye that is essential for vision has been created in the laboratory from animal stem cells, offering hope to the blind and partially sighted, BBC News reports. The technique was reported in the journal Nature, which said that one day it might be possible to make an eye in a dish.

Posted 11 April 2011

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