Health Highlights: Jan. 3, 2009

Saturday, January 3, 2009; 12:00 AM

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

Blood Clot Drug Causes Higher Death Rate in Elderly Patients, Maker Says

A drug used to treat blood clots formed primarily from deep vein thrombosis or in kidney failure increases the death rate among elderly patients, its maker has warned physicians.

According to the Associated Press, the biotech company Celgene Corp. has alerted doctors in a letter also posted on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Web site, stating that clinical trials using the drug Innohep showed a death increase incidence in patients over age 70 of 13 percent, compared to a death rate of 5 percent when another anti-clotting drug, Heparin, was used.

Celgene had warned doctors in a July 2008 letter that the incidence of death among patients over age 90 was higher when Innohep was used, but the latest letter expanded the warning to "all elderly patients," the A.P. reported.

The study involved 350 patients with deep vein thrombosis who were getting Innohep, and it was stopped in February, 2008, after the mortality results were analyzed. The Innohep group died of various causes, the wire service reported, so no single cause of death stood out.

The FDA stated that it had asked Celgen to revise the information on the Innophep package "to better describe the overall study results which suggest that, when compared to (heparin), Innohep increases the risk of death for elderly patients" with failing kidneys, the A.P. said.


Family History Doesn't Impact Prostate Cancer Treatment

The outcomes of prostate cancer patients treated with brachytherapy (seed implants) were not affected by patients' family history, a new study finds.

Researchers from the Departments of Radiation Oncology and Urology at New York City's Mount Sinai School of Medicine tracked 1,738 prostate cancer patients, of which 187 had a family history of the disease. The scientists found that among all risk groups, family history had no significance on outcome among prostate cancer patients treated with brachytherapy.

Study results were reported in the Jan. 1 issue of the International Journal of Radiation Oncology *Biology* Physics.

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