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Health Highlights: Jan. 23, 2013

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

Petition to Reclassify Marijuana Rejected by Appeals Court

A petition to reclassify marijuana from its current status in the U.S. as a dangerous drug with no accepted medical use was rejected Tuesday by a federal appeals court.

The petition was submitted by several individuals and three medical marijuana groups, the Associated Press reported. In 2011, a petition to change marijuana's classification was rejected by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Tuesday's appeals court ruling came a few months after Colorado and Washington state legalized marijuana for recreational use.

In his majority opinion Tuesday, Judge Harry Edwards noted that the issue wasn't whether marijuana may have some medical benefits, but rather whether the DEA's decision to reject the petition was "arbitrary and capricious," the AP reported.

The appeals court concluded that this was not the case.


Drug Co. Analysis Predicted High Failure Rate for Hip Implant

An internal Johnson & Johnson analysis reveals that the company believed that an all-metal hip implant would fail within five years in nearly 40 percent of patients who received the device.

The company recalled the Articular Surface Replacement in mid-2010. The analysis was conducted in 2011 but never released, according to newly disclosed court documents, The New York Times reported.

At the same time it was conducting the analysis, Johnson & Johnson was publicly playing down a British implant registry's similar findings about the hip implant's early failure rate.

The analysis also indicates that the device is likely to fail prematurely over the next few years in thousands more patients in addition to those who have already undergone surgery to replace it, The Times reported.

The analysis is among hundreds of internal Johnson & Johnson documents expected to be made public as the first of more than 10,000 lawsuits over the all-metal hip implant prepares to go to trail this week.


Most U.S. Research Chimps to be Retired

All but 50 of hundreds of chimpanzees used for U.S. government-funded research should be retired from labs and sent to a sanctuary, federal scientists say.

A National Institute of Health committee also called for major cuts in grants to study chimps in laboratories and said there should be no return to breeding chimps for research, the Associated Press reported.

The recommendations, which were approved Tuesday by the NIH Council of Councils Working Group, were welcomed by animal-rights activists.

A statement released by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said: "At last, our federal government understands: A chimpanzee should no more live in a laboratory than a human should live in a phone booth."

The freed chimps will be sent to the Chimp Haven sanctuary in Louisiana. Sanctuary officials said nine chimps arrived Tuesday, seven more are expected Thursday, and another 95 will arrive over coming months, the AP reported.


Golden Retriever Study Focuses on Cancer in Dogs

A study involving 3,000 golden retrievers will seek to find ways to prevent cancer in dogs.

The purebred participants will be followed for their entire lives -- typically 10 to 14 years -- for genetic, nutritional and environmental risk factors for cancer, the Associated Press reported.

Cancer is widely believed to be the leading cause of death in older dogs, according to Rodney Page, the study's principal investigator and a professor of veterinary oncology and the director of the Flint Animal Cancer Center at Colorado State University.

The Golden Retriever Lifetime Study -- the longest and largest study conducted in dogs -- will focus on three types of cancer: bone, lymphoma, and a blood vessel cancer called hemangiosarcoma, the AP reported.

It's likely that the study will also provide new insight into other dog diseases such as arthritis, hormonal and skin problems, epilepsy and hip dysplasia, Page said.


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Posted: January 2013