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Daily Rounds: Biotech Bonanza; Early Use For Avastin; Pernicious Symptom Checklists; Pediatrician Sex Abuse Suit

MassBio: Mass. biotechs raised most venture capital in 2011 (Masshightech.com) - "Massachusetts had its best year to date for venture capital in 2011, beating the 2010 historic high, the head of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council told attendees at its policy leadership breakfast in Boston Wednesday. “We believe Mass.-based companies raised more than $1 billion in VC funding last year. Massachusetts companies are now getting one-quarter of all biotech venture dollars in the country,” said Robert Coughlin, president and CEO of MassBio. He said the council still is reviewing the numbers."(Masshightech.com)

Studies: Avastin may fight early breast cancer (AP via Boston Globe) - "Surprising results from two new studies may reopen debate about the value of Avastin for breast cancer. The drug helped make tumors disappear in certain women with early-stage disease, researchers found. Avastin recently lost approval for treating advanced breast cancer, but the new studies suggest it might help women whose disease has not spread so widely. These were the first big tests of the drug for early breast cancer, and doctors were cautiously excited it showed potential to help." (AP)

Using symptom checklists to sell drugs (The New York Times) - "The phenomenon is sometimes referred to as “disease mongering,” redefining what is normal and abnormal in a way that widens potential markets for those who sell treatments. And, as detailed in a recent study in the journal Social Science & Medicine, one marketing strategy has accomplished more in this regard than any other by using what has come to be the very symbol of quality and reliability for doctors and patients everywhere: the checklist. What makes the checklists so powerful is their ability to influence patient preferences." (Pauline Chen in The New York Times)

Judge to decide on Children's suit (Bostonglobe.com) - "A Suffolk Superior Court judge will decide whether to dismiss a lawsuit against Children’s Hospital Boston, after hearing arguments yesterday on the suit filed on behalf of 11 people who say they were abused by pediatrician Melvin D. Levine in North Carolina. Levine, accused of sexually abusing dozens of children during medical treatments, had been the former chief of ambulatory pediatrics at Children’s Hospital. In 1987, he became a professor of pediatrics at the University of North Carolina at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill. He committed suicide last February. (The Boston Globe)

This program aired on January 27, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.

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