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Jun 18, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- FDA APPROVES STALEVO FOR PARKINSON'S

The Food and Drug Administration has approved Stalevo, the first new drug treatment for Parkinson's disease in more than three years. Manufactured by Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Stalevo -- a combination of carbidopa, levodopa and entacapone -- is for patients who suffer idiopathic Parkinson's disease and have symptoms of end-of-dose "wearing-off." Levodopa is a widely used Parkinson's drug and although carbidopa reduces its side effects, entacapone extends its benefits so patients have longer-lasting relief of symptoms. Parkinson's disease is a chronic and progressive neurological condition that affects some 1.5 million Americans.


Heart attack patients who are treated for depression feel better but do not necessarily experience improved survival rates, a new study shows. The Enhancing Recovery in Coronary Heart Disease Patients Study is the first to look at the effects of treating depression and low social support in recent heart attack patients. Conducted by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, the study finds no reduction in deaths or second heart attacks but does show patients had significant improvement in depression and social functioning. About 25 percent of heart disease patients suffer from depressed or have poor social support, which places them at a 3-to-4-times higher risk of death. The treatment offered the study participants included written information on disease risk factors and six months of cognitive behavioral therapy.


Researchers in the Netherlands say prostate cancer screening programs increase significantly the number of cancers discovered in men ages 55 to 67. Their study also shows one-half of the cancers detected by such programs would not have been found without the screening, a phenomenon called overdetection, which can lead to unnecessary treatment and problems with impotence and urinary incontinence. The authors estimated a single screening test at age 55 resulted in a lead time -- early diagnosis that increases chances of recovery -- of 12.3 years and an overdetection rate of 27 percent. A single screening test at age 75 has an estimated lead time of six years and an 56 percent overdetection rate. Screening every four years has a lead time of 11.2 years and an overdetection rate of 48 percent and annual screening has an estimated lead time of 12.3 years and a 50-percent overdetection rate.


A taste test might be a good way to identify people with a hereditary risk for alcoholism, say University of Connecticut researchers. Their study says people whose fathers are alcoholics consider salty tastes less pleasant and sour tastes more intense than those whose fathers do not have alcohol problems. People with a family history of alcoholism are at greater risk of developing alcoholism than those without such a family history. Earlier studies show an association between a preference for sweet tastes and excessive alcohol intake.


(Editors: For more information about STALEVO, contact Kate King at 862-778-5588. For DEPRESSION, call the NHLBI at 301-496-4236. For PROSTATE SCREENING, Linda Wang at 301-841-1287 or For ALCOHOLISM, Henry R. Kranzler at 860-679-4151 or

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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