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CHECKUP FDA APPROVES DRUG FOR CHRONIC HEPATITIS C.

Byline: - Staff and Wire Reports

Pegasys, a new drug developed by Roche Pharmaceuticals to treat chronic hepatitis C, received approval this month from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. To roll out the drug, the company has offered 12 weeks of free samples to the first 15,000 patients who start the therapy between now and Dec. 31. The samples will be supplied at the request of physicians.

According to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, 2.7 million Americans suffer from chronic hepatitis C. The leading cause of liver transplants, hepatitis C can be transmitted in a number of ways, including through blood, blood products or shared needle use.

Pegasys has been approved for people who have not been treated with interferon alpha and have compensated liver damage, in which the organ is scarred but still well-functioning. For more information, visit www.rocheusa.com

AGING GRACEFULLY: Physical therapy at home may help keep older people independent longer, a new study suggests.

Researchers from Yale University School of Medicine followed 188 frail people age 75 or older for a year. (They were considered ``frail'' if they couldn't perform certain tasks, such as standing up from a chair with their arms folded.) Half the group underwent physical therapy to help them improve basic functions such as balance and muscle strength.

By the end of the study, the half that had received physical therapy scored considerably lower on a ``disability score'' that measured daily living activities such as bathing and dressing. Those who began with a moderate level of disability saw the most benefit.

``The results of our study indicate that functional decline among physically frail, elderly persons who live at home can be slowed, if not prevented,'' the scientists wrote recently in the New England Journal of Medicine.

ADHD DRUGS CAN'T SHRINK BRAIN: Studies have shown that the brains of children who suffer from attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder are significantly smaller than other children's brains, a fact that some people have attributed to medications commonly prescribed for the disorder.

New research by the National Institute of Mental Health suggests that such medication cannot be the cause of the abnormalities. The 10-year study used magnetic resonance imaging to compare brain development in 152 children and adolescents who have ADHD with that of 139 subjects of similar ages but no ADHD diagnosis.

In the initial scan, the children with ADHD were shown to have smaller cerebrums, the area of the brain that controls mental processing, and cerebellums, which control voluntary muscle activity in the body. However, ADHD patients who never took medication for their conditions were found to have even smaller brains than those who took psychotropic drugs.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Oct 21, 2002
Words:447
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