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Health Highlights: March 7, 2014

Health Highlights: March 7, 2014

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

New Testosterone Drug OK'd by FDA Amid Controversy

A controversial new drug for men with low testosterone has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Aveed, a long-acting testosterone injection that's taken once very 10 weeks, is expected to be available this month, according to Irish drugmaker Endo Pharmaceuticals. Similar products need to be taken weekly or biweekly, CBS News/Associated Press reported.

The FDA should reverse its approval of Aveed, Public Citizen's Health Research Group founder Dr. Sidney Wolfe said in a letter to the agency. He pointed out that an FDA panel of outside experts last April voted 9-9 on whether the drug was safe for treating low testosterone.

That vote came before a federal study suggested that testosterone therapy could double the risk of heart attack in men 65 and older, said Wolfe, who added that the vote result might have been against the drug if that information was known at the time.

In response to the study, the FDA said in January that it was reviewing the safety of testosterone drugs. Public Citizen says the FDA should make all testosterone drugs carry a black box warning about cardiovascular risks, CBS News/AP reported.

"The FDA's current view is that the benefits of testosterone therapy, including Aveed, outweigh the known risks when used as directed in patients for whom the drug is indicated," said FDA spokeswoman Andrea Fischer.

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High Vitamin D Levels Benefit Breast Cancer Patients: Study

High levels of vitamin D improve survival in breast cancer patients, according to a new review.

Researchers analyzed five studies that included thousands of breast cancer patients who were followed for an average of nine years and found that those with high levels of vitamin D in their blood were twice as likely to survive as those with low levels, United Press International reported.

The findings were published in the journal Anticancer Research.

Further studies are needed, but the researchers said their results suggest that adding vitamin D supplements to breast cancer patients' standard care could be beneficial, UPI reported.

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Surgeon Who Saved Many Pitchers' Careers Dies at Age 88

The American doctor who saved the careers of many baseball pitchers and other athletes died Thursday in Santa Monica, Calif. at age 88.

Dr. Frank Jobe developed the groundbreaking Tommy John surgery, which was named for the first pitcher who underwent the procedure in 1974.

The surgery involves transplanting an unneeded tendon from the wrist into the elbow, where it functions as a new ligament. The procedure has been used since in thousands of athletes, most of them pitchers, The New York Times reported.

Jobe also developed a new shoulder surgery that reduces trauma to tissue during the procedure. Pitcher Orel Hershiser was the first to undergo the surgery in 1990.

"There are a lot of pitchers in baseball who should celebrate his life and what he did for the game of baseball," Tommy John said in a statement released after Jobe's death, The Times reported.

 
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