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Sunday, Dec 21st

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For Widely Used Drug, Question of Usefulness Is Still Lingering

The lack of evidence has not stopped doctors from heavily prescribing that drug, whether in a stand-alone form sold as Zetia or as a combination medicine called Vytorin. Aided by extensive consumer advertising, sales of the medicines reached $5.2 billion last year, making them among the best-selling drugs in the world. More than three million people worldwide take either drug every day.

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Watch out for drug names that look, sound alike

Take the generic drug clonidine for high blood pressure? Double-check that you didn't leave the drugstore with Klonopin for seizures, or the gout medicine colchicine.
Mixing up drug names because they look or sound alike - like this trio - is among the most common types of medical mistakes, and it can be deadly. Now new efforts are aiming to stem the confusion, and make patients more aware of the risk.

Nearly 1,500 commonly used drugs have names so similar to at least one other medication that they've already caused mix-ups, says a major study by the U.S. Pharmacopeia, which helps set drug standards and promote patient safety.

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List of drugs with suicide concerns

A list of some prescription medications for which concerns have been raised involving suicidal thoughts and actions:

-All antidepressants. Drugs such as Prozac, Paxil, Wellbutrin and Zoloft carry required warnings that the medications can increase suicidal thinking and behavior in some children, adolescents and young adults.

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Zimbabwe doctors' advice: Don't get sick

The advice of doctors to Zimbabweans is, don't get sick. If you do, don't count on hospitals - they're short of drugs and functioning equipment.

As the economy collapses, the laboratory at a main 1,000-bed hospital has virtually shut down. X-ray materials, injectable antibiotics and anticonvulsants have run out.

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Fish oil outperforms statin in heart failure study

Fish oil supplements may work slightly better than a popular cholesterol-reducing drug to help patients with chronic heart failure, according to new research released Sunday.

Chronic heart failure is a condition that occurs when the heart becomes enlarged and cannot pump blood efficiently through the body.

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Flu shot does not cut risk of death in elderly

"Over the last two decades in the United Sates, even while (flu) vaccination rates among the elderly have increased from 15 to 65 percent, there has been no commensurate decrease in hospital admissions or all-cause mortality," added co-investigator Dr. Dean T. Eurich, who is also with the University of Alberta.

"Further, only about 10 percent of winter-time deaths in the United States are attributable to influenza, thus to suggest that the vaccine can reduce 50 percent of deaths from all causes is implausible in our opinion," he added.

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Court bars meatpacker tests for mad cow

The Agriculture Department is within bounds to bar meatpackers from testing slaughter cattle for mad cow disease, a U.S. Court of Appeals panel said in a 2-1 ruling on Friday.

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