Health Highlights: May 1, 2013

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

Parents' Efforts Key to Approval of Drug for Rare Kidney Disorder

A new drug to treat a rare and deadly inherited kidney disorder has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the efforts of one patient's parents may have played a key role.

The drug Procysbi is for nephropathic cystinosis. Left untreated, the disease typically destroys the kidneys by age 10. Even with a kidney transplant, the condition can lead to death by early adulthood, The New York Times reported.

Procysbi is not a totally new drug, but rather a more convenient and tolerable version of an existing drug for cystinosis called Cystagon, from Mylan Inc. Cystagon has a strong rotten-egg smell that causes bad breath and body odor, and also causes nausea, vomiting and other abdominal problems. It must be taken every six hours.

Procysbi, from Raptor Pharmaceutical Corporation, has the same active ingredient as Cystagon but can be taken every 12 hours and parents say it causes less severe body odor, bad breath and abdominal problems, The Times reported.

There is a huge price difference between the older and newer medicines: Cystagon costs about $8,000 a year while Procysbi will cost about $250,000 a year.

Still, reductions in the noxious side effects, and the twice-a-day dosing of Procysbi are huge advantages for children with nephropathic cystinosis, said Nancy Stack, a mother from Corona del Mar, Calif.

Her daughter Natalie, 22, has the illness, and parents Nancy and Geoffrey formed the Cystinosis Research Foundation in 2003 to help push for better treatments. Money raised by the foundation was instrumental in the development of Procysbi, The Times said.

Now the challenge is to get Procysbi, with its high price tag, covered by insurers. "It does seem extreme to have [the price] that high," Stack told The Times. "But as a community, our bottom line is getting better treatment for our children. And we know that this will change our kids' lives."


Ground Turkey Contains Potentially Harmful Bacteria: Report

Potentially dangerous bacteria was found in most samples of randomly tested ground turkey products sold at U.S. stores, and some of the bacteria were antibiotic-resistant, Consumer Reports has found.

The group also discovered that turkey raised without antibiotics had much less antibiotic-resistant bacteria than turkey raised with antibiotics, CBS News reported.

"Our findings strongly suggest that there is a direct relationship between the routine use of antibiotics in animal production and increased antibiotic resistance in bacteria on ground turkey. It's very concerning that antibiotics fed to turkeys are creating resistance to antibiotics used in human medicine," Dr. Urvashi Rangan, director of the food safety and sustainability group at Consumer Reports, said in a news release. "Humans don't consume antibiotics every day to prevent disease and neither should healthy animals."

The group tested 257 kinds of raw ground turkey meat and patties for five contaminants that can cause illness and be fatal in some cases: enterococcus, E. coli, staphylococcus aureus, salmonella, and campylobacter, CBS News reported.

Ninety percent of the samples tested had at least one of the bacteria, Consumer Reports found.

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