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An article in the latest issue of The Lancet reveals that Pyramax, a new oral malaria treatment from South Korean drugmaker Shin Poong Pharmaceuticals, is just as effective as Novartis leading treatment Coartem. According to Reuters, Coartem is the current gold standard for people infected with the mosquito-borne disease. The two-in-one Novartis drug needs to be taken twice a day and requires a fatty diet for optimum absorption, whereas Pyramax is taken once daily.

This is a tremendous breakthrough, since malaria kills hundreds of thousands of people each year in...

Three top FDA administrators have a column published in the New England Journal of Medicine this week about how they will use their authority under the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.

“We’ve established that we don’t like this law,” says Stier. “But it is the law now and we have to live with it, so the issue now is implementation. They talk about all sorts of things like candy-flavored cigarettes and restrictions on advertising, but what I don’t see them talking about is one of the most important issues when it comes to tobacco: helping addicted smokers quit.

“This article is not only self-serving, it’s troubling because of how it...

The New York Times reports, “R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, one of the country’s biggest cigarette makers, must pay $46.3 million to the widow of a Florida man who died from lung cancer in 1995, a jury in Gainesville, Fla., decided Wednesday.”

“In the last 60 years, there have been numerous lawsuits against cigarette companies, and most all of them have been won by the cigarette companies,” says ACSH’s Dr. Elizabeth Whelan. “What we’ve seen over the last few years is that there has really been a disincentive for plaintiffs’ lawyers to take cases against cigarette companies since they almost always lose.

“But today in Florida, the balance has...

The Wall Street Journal’s “Numbers Guy” took a look at the arguments for and against smokeless tobacco as harm reduction for addicted smokers over the weekend. He mentions dangers often cited by critics of smokeless tobacco, writing, “All of these risks appear to be overblown, particularly compared with smoking, which is far more likely to kill than smokeless alternatives. But researchers who recommend these products as alternatives for smokers seeking to quit also are relying on hazy figures.”

“He’s right that cigarettes are more likely to kill than smokeless...

At a recent meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, a Duke University oncologist warned that emphasis on comparative effectiveness research for new drugs may impede cancer research.

By implementing a policy requiring a comparative effectiveness standard -- in which the most effective or cost-effective drug would gain market exclusivity -- the first drug into the market for any condition would basically be granted monopoly status, says Dr. Ross. In addition to the onerous requirements of safety and effectiveness testing, trying to prove that a new drug is better than an extant drug is such a financially risky proposition that pharmaceutical companies...

An editorial in the Wall Street Journal points out the unfortunate connection between last week s Earth Day and yesterday s World Malaria Day.

Today, malaria still claims about one million lives every year mostly women and children in sub-Saharan Africa. There's no evidence that spraying [DDT] inside homes in the amounts needed to combat the disease harms humans, animals or the environment. Yet DDT remains severely underutilized in the fight against malaria because the intellectual descendants of [Earth Day founder Senator Gaylord Nelson] continue to hold sway at the World Health Organization and other United Nations...

According to the Associated Press, Supreme Court justices on Tuesday sharply questioned a lower court's decision that has prohibited biotech giant Monsanto Co. from selling genetically engineered alfalfa seeds ¦

This is the first time ever that the Supreme Court has heard a case related to a genetically modified (GM) agricultural product, says ACSH s Jeff Stier. Environmentalists are afraid that the GM, or biotech, seeds will cross-pollinate with conventional crops. But the alfalfa being grown is used for animal feed, so activists are concerned either about humans eating meat that was raised on contaminated seeds...

A blog hosted by Reason magazine offers a sardonic commentary on a decision in California s Santa Clara County to forbid the inclusion of toys with any restaurant meal (e.g., McDonald s Happy Meals) that has high amounts of salt, sugar, fat, or calories: First they came for Joe Camel, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a camel. ¦ So it was only a matter of time before someone applied the principle to fast food.

Toys are the new Joe Camel, since they attract kids to products that the government doesn t want them to have, says Stier. Of course, they blame this move on the high cost of health care, which is an argument you see more and more as the government takes over health care. Next they...

PBS s Frontline last night examined vaccines and the increasingly bitter debate between the public health establishment and a formidable populist coalition of parents, celebrities, politicians and activists who are ¦ determined to resist pressure from the medical and public health establishments to vaccinate, despite established scientific consensus about vaccine safety.

The typical anti-vaccine crowd made an appearance, says Dr. Ross. You have the D-list actress Jenny McCarthy saying children s immune systems can t handle vaccines and anti-vaccine zealot Barbara Loe Fisher implying that the government and pharmaceutical companies are in some kind of corrupt conspiracy to sell vaccines...

A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine shows that depression is linked to increased chocolate consumption, though the researchers admit that it does not prove a causal connection in either direction.

It s not news that people eat chocolate because it makes them feel better, says Stier. This is another case of causation vs. association.

Dr. Whelan agrees: We re not taking this seriously. Don t fret about getting depressed because you enjoy some chocolate now and then. The mere thought of giving up chocolate depresses me.