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Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Today's Globe: funding slowdown, trans fats, stents, Walter Reed woes, Cheney blood clot, painkillers, smoking

The continued dominance of Boston's healthcare industry, the region's largest employer, could be undermined by stagnant federal funding for biomedical research, combined with the city's chronically high cost of living and competition from other cities, according to a report by the Conference of Boston Teaching Hospitals.

Dr. James Mandel, chairman of the Conference of Boston Teaching Hospitals and president and CEO of Children's Hospital Boston, comments in "Holding the edge in Healthcare."

The potential ban on unhealthy fats in Boston's restaurants got put on a back burner yesterday, when the administrator who has been directing the effort received a promotion. Led by executive director John Auerbach, who was appointed the state's public health commissioner yesterday, the Boston Public Health Commission had been investigating the feasibility of a ban on trans fats similar to the regulation adopted last year by New York.

As part of a federal inquiry into drug and medical-device marketing, Boston Scientific Corp. was asked by Congress last week to submit to investigators internal documents, marketing plans, and clinical data related to its top-selling product, the Taxus drug-coated stent.

Top Army officials faced an angry Congress yesterday during an emotional hearing about shoddy medical treatment and living conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, acknowledging that they have failed in the care of wounded veterans. Calling the scandal at Walter Reed "the tip of the iceberg of what is going on all around the country," Representative Henry Waxman, Democrat of California and chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said veterans and their families are "flooding us with complaints" about the burgeoning scandal.

Doctors discovered a blood clot in Vice President Dick Cheney's left leg yesterday, a condition that could be fatal if left untreated. Cheney, who has a history of heart problems, will be treated with blood-thinning medication for several months, said his spokeswoman, Lea Anne McBride.

People at average risk for colon cancer shouldn't take aspirin or painkillers such as ibuprofen to try to prevent the disease, a federal task force advises, because of the risk of bleeding and other potential health problems.

White teenagers who watch a lot of R-rated movies or have unsupervised access to television shows appear more likely than similar black youths to start smoking cigarettes, a study found yesterday.

Posted by Elizabeth Cooney at 06:29 AM
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