Daily Rounds: Bone-Drug Worries; Obesity Savings; Feds Intervene On Whooping Cough; Obama Makes History

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New Cautions About Long Term Use Of Bone Drugs (The New York Times) — "The F.D.A. review, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, was prompted by a growing debate over how long women should continue using the drugs, known as bisphosphonates, which have been sold under such brand names as Fosamax, Boniva, Actonel and Reclast. The concern is that after years of use, the drugs may in rare cases actually lead to weaker bones in certain women, contributing to “rare but serious adverse events,” including unusual femur fractures, esophageal cancer and osteonecrosis of the jaw, a painful and disfiguring crumbling of the jaw bone. Although the concerns about the long-term safety of bone drugs are not new, the F.D.A. performed its own systematic review of the effectiveness of bisphosphonates after years of use. The agency’s analysis, which found little if any benefit from the drugs after three to five years of use, may prompt doctors around the country to rethink how they prescribe them."

Hey Mass. House — Obesity Bites (The Boston Globe) — "So the two above estimates translate into health care savings between $1.7 and $11 billion in Massachusetts health care expenses by stopping or slowing the projected increase in obesity rates in the Commonwealth (likely an overestimate because we are less obese than the nation as a whole). Still, a lot of dough, no matter how you add it up...To my friends in the Mass. House of Representatives, keep the pressure on the medical care delivery system to provide value for the money we all spend on medical care; and please don't neglect the real prize, doing whatever we can to keep people healthy before they get sick."

Feds Join Fight Against Whooping Cough In Washington (NPR) — "The state is desperately trying to raise awareness of the epidemic. Take this public service announcement featuring a mother whose baby contracted the disease. "My name is Chelsey Charles. In 2011, my baby Kaliah died of pertussis, or whooping cough, a completely preventable disease. It devastated my family." Last week, Gov. Christine Gregoire asked for federal help, so investigators from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rushed to the state. Now the feds are helping local health officials figure out what's behind the whooping cough epidemic. Gregoire is also dipping into the state's emergency funds for more outreach efforts. The message: Whooping cough is serious. About 1 in 5 infants who get pertussis will get pneumonia, and in some cases die."

President Obama's Moment (The New York Times) — "With those 10 words, Mr. Obama finally stopped temporizing and “evolving” his position on same-sex marriage and took the moral high ground on what may be the great civil rights struggle of our time. His words will not end the bitter fight over marriage rights, which we fear will continue for years to come. But they were of great symbolic value, and perhaps more. As Mayor Michael Bloomberg noted, no expansion of rights embraced by a president has failed to become the law of the land."

This program aired on May 10, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.