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Posted - Apr. 19, 2004 at 7:20 a.m.



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Apr 19, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- MIGRAINE DRUG APPROVED

The Food and Drug Administration has approved Vioxx (rofecoxib), by Merck and Co. Inc., as a pain relief treatment for migraine sufferers. The drug previously was approved for arthritis pain. It is the only COX-2 specific inhibitor approved to relieve migraine pain and migraine symptoms, its makers said. "The pain from migraines can be excruciating and can last for several hours or days," said clinical investigator Dr. Stephen Silberstein, professor of neurology at Jefferson University Hospital School of Medicine and director of the Jefferson Headache Center in Philadelphia. "Studies have shown that just one Vioxx relieved migraine headache pain for most patients within two hours, a standard measurement for evaluating the efficacy of migraine treatments."

VISION LOSS FROM EYE DISEASES ON THE RISE

As the population ages, the number of Americans with major eye diseases is increasing, and vision loss is becoming a major public health problem. By the year 2020, the number of people who are blind or have low vision is projected to increase substantially, researchers report in Archives of Ophthalmology. Blindness or low vision affects 3.3 million Americans ages 40 and older, the study authors say. This figure is projected to reach 5.5 million by the year 2020. The study reports low vision and blindness increase significantly with age, particularly in those past age 65. People 80 and older make up 8 percent of the population but account for 69 percent of cases of blindness. The study, sponsored by the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health, identifies age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataract and diabetic retinopathy as the most common eye diseases in older Americans. The leading cause of blindness among white Americans is AMD, accounting for 54 percent of all blindness.

TOOTH WHITENING GAINS INTEREST

The most widely asked question of dentists deals with tooth whitening and bleaching. The American Dental Association's 2003 Public Opinion Survey shows 19.3 percent of patients posed questions to their dentists about tooth whitening, up 8.3 percent from 2001. It also shows women are more likely to have used tooth-whitening products than men. ADA consumer adviser Dr. Matt Messina tells patients to consult their dentists to determine the most appropriate whitening treatment. "This is especially important for patients with many fillings, crowns and extremely dark stains," he says. "A thorough oral examination is essential to determine if bleaching is an appropriate course of treatment."

PROCESS MAY REPAIR ARTHRITIS KNEES

Researchers have devised a process to help repair arthritic knees and minimize pain. The procedure, which the researchers hope to test in humans this summer, was developed at the University of Missouri, Columbia. The developers note surgeons will operate on more than 1 million knees in 2004, and most of those patients will experience painful arthritis as they age. Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, often occurs when an area of knee cartilage is damaged and surgically removed. The cartilage, known as the meniscus, is a shock absorber in the knee. When torn or damaged, the meniscus typically does not heal on its own, and the damaged portion is removed and not replaced. The current surgical techniques solve the short-term problem, but osteoarthritis inevitably develops several years later. James Cook, professor of veterinary medicine and surgery, helped develop a process that successfully encourages the meniscus to repair itself, while minimizing progression of osteoarthritis.

(Editors: For more information about MIGRAINE, contact Mary Elizabeth Blake at (267) 305-8694. For VISION, Michael Coogan at (301) 496-5248 or mjc@nei.nih.gov. For TOOTH, Fred Peterson at (312) 440-2806 or petersonf@ada.org. For ARTHRITIS, Christian Basi at (573) 882-4430 or BasiC@missouri.edu)

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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