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Health Highlights: July 12, 2010

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

White House to Announce new HIV Strategy

The first national strategy to deal with the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States will be released Tuesday by the Obama administration.

The plan outlines five measures to reduce the annual number of new HIV infections by 25 percent within five years, The New York Times reported. Currently, about 56,000 Americans become infected with HIV each year, and more than 1.1 million are living with HIV, according to the White House document.

The strategy, created over 15 months of work and discussions with thousands of people around the country, does not propose a major increase in federal spending to fight HIV/AIDS.

Instead, money will be redirected to areas with the greatest need and population groups at the greatest risk, such as gay and bisexual men and black Americans, the Times reported.


New Weight Loss Drug Reviewed By FDA

A U.S. Food and Drug Administration review of a new weight loss drug called Qnexa is expected to be posted Monday and the data will be reviewed Thursday at a public meeting.

In clinical trials, some patients taking the drug lost as much as 13 percent to 15 percent of body weight. The FDA considers an obesity drug to be effective if it helps patients lose at least 5 percent of total body weight after one year, the Associated Press reported.

However, a number of patients dropped out of the Qnexa clinical trial due to side effects such as memory and concentration problems.

Qnexa is a combination of the amphetamine phentermine and the anticonvulsant topiramate, says drug maker Vivus Inc. The company said phentermine helps suppress appetite and topiramate makes patients feel more satiated, the AP reported.

Two more new weight loss drugs are being considered by the FDA. In October, the agency will review Orexigen Therapeutics Inc.'s Contrave, and Arena Pharmaceuticals Inc.'s lorcaserin will be reviewed in December.


FTC Should Probe Youth Marketing of Flavored Alcoholic Beverages: Senator

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission should investigate the marketing of flavored alcohol beverages with caffeine that appears to target underage drinkers, New York Sen. Charles Schumer says in a letter to the FTC.

He said the drinks are in colorful cans that resemble nonalcoholic energy drinks, which can confuse parents and police. Schumer also noted that popular flavored alcohol beverages such as Joose and Four Loko use very small print to reveal an alcohol content of up to 12 percent, the Associated Press reported.

The drinks, which come in flavors such as orange and grape, sell for as little as $2.50 a can.

"We don't condone nontraditional marketing. We position our product toward at least the age of 21 and older. We do not target college kids. We don't condone it," said Michael Mikhail, chief executive of United Brands Co. of Le Mesa Calif., which makes Joose, the AP reported.

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Posted: July 2010