Two more women dieafter use of abortion pill
WASHINGTON -- Two more women have died after using the abortion pill RU-486, regulators said Friday in a warning that brought renewed calls for pulling the controversial drug from the market. The organization that provided the pill to the two women said it would immediately stop disregarding the approved instructions for the pill's use. The Food and Drug Administration warned doctors to watch for a rare but deadly infection previously implicated in four deaths of women who had taken the drug. The drug, also called Mifeprex or mifepristone, has not been proved to be the cause in any of those cases. Nor has the FDA confirmed the cause of the latest two deaths. However, in one of them, the woman's symptoms appeared to resemble those in the cluster of four cases in California where the women died from an infection of the bloodstream, or sepsis. Those women did not follow FDA-approved instructions for the pill-triggered abortion, which requires swallowing three tablets of one drug, followed by two of another two days later. Instead of swallowing the final two tablets, the second course of pills was inserted vaginally in the four women, an "off-label" use that studies have shown effective and that has been recommended by a majority of the nation's abortion clinics. That use does not have federal approval though studies have indicated it produces fewer side effects.
S.D. hears threatsover its abortion ban
PIERRE, S.D. -- The superintendent of Mount Rushmore was surprised at first when people from all over the country started calling up to express their opinion about South Dakota's ban on nearly all abortions. Some callers said they were so upset that they would never visit Mount Rushmore, South Dakota's No. 1 tourist attraction. Others said they were so thrilled that they would make a point of coming to see the chiseled faces of four U.S. presidents in the Black Hills. In an uproar that has taken many South Dakotans by surprise, politicians and state agencies have been bombarded in the past few weeks with thousands upon thousands of calls, letters and e-mails -- pro and con -- from across the country and around the world. And a few small groups have called for a tourism boycott of South Dakota, urging people to avoid such attractions as Mount Rushmore, the Badlands, the annual motorcycle rally in Sturgis, and the Corn Palace, an arena in Mitchell whose walls are covered with colorful ears of corn. The furor was prompted by the passage of the strictest abortion law in America -- a ban on all abortions except to save a woman's life, with no exceptions for rape or incest. The measure, set to take effect July 1, is aimed at overturning the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade that established the right to an abortion.
Clinical trials scrutinizedafter 6 get seriously ill
LONDON -- The first test in humans of a new drug to treat leukemia and autoimmune diseases has left six men severely ill, sparking fresh questions over the safety of such clinical trials. Four of the men had regained consciousness Friday, doctors said, but two others were in critical condition with multiple organ failure. The six previously healthy volunteers became seriously ill soon after taking TGN1412, a monoclonal antibody, on Monday in a trial run by Parexel International, based in Waltham, Mass. British regulators ordered an immediate suspension of the tests. Raste Khan, one of two men given a placebo in the trial, said the six were stricken with vomiting and severe pain within minutes of receiving the drug. Experts in clinical trials said they were shocked at the extreme reactions and questioned why the six men were all given the drug at the same time. The eight volunteers were paid about $3,500 for what was to have been a two-week trial.
Oil leak in Alaska wentundetected for days
ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- For five days or more, crude oil oozed from a pipeline through a corrosion hole about the size of a pencil eraser, silently spreading underneath the snow in what would become the biggest spill ever on Alaska's North Slope. Ultimately it wasn't the pipeline's leak-detection systems that discovered the spill. It was an oilfield worker who caught a whiff of the petroleum. Industry watchdogs say the spill was absolutely preventable and should have been detected more promptly, and they blame cost-pinching practices at BP, which runs the Prudhoe Bay operation. BP has defended its maintenance spending and inspection practices. Nevertheless, state environmental regulators say the spill will lead to fines and possibly stricter pipeline regulations in Alaska, a state that has grown rich on oil since crude began flowing from the North Slope via the 800-mile trans-Alaska pipeline in the 1970s.
Associated Press

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