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US-HEALTH Summary

Jun 30, 2011, 9:45 p.m.

Medicare will keep covering Roche's Avastin

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Medicare will continue paying for Roche Holding's drug Avastin for breast cancer, regardless of what health regulators decide about the medicine's future, a spokesman said on Thursday. The statement from the U.S. healthcare program could mitigate concerns that patients using the drug would lose insurance coverage should the U.S. Food and Drug Administration revoke approval for its use in breast cancer.

Roche undeterred after FDA's Avastin rebuff

ZURICH (Reuters) - Swiss drugmaker Roche Holding AG had nothing to lose by giving Avastin another roll of the dice, and by doing so showed the world it still believes the drug should be used in breast cancer. The world's largest maker of cancer drugs is now poised to carry out another trial in a bid to prove the $6-billion drug does significantly extend the time women live without their disease getting worse.

Montana judge blocks new curbs on medical marijuana

HELENA, Montana (Reuters) - A judge has blocked parts of a Montana law that would have imposed tough new restrictions on state-sanctioned medical marijuana suppliers starting on Friday. In a preliminary injunction issued on Thursday, state District Judge James Reynolds in Helena ruled those limits would effectively deny access to pot for many patients entitled to use it under the state's 7-year-old medical marijuana statute.

Big Medicare cuts to reduce deficit unpopular: poll

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Few Americans would support major cuts to Medicare to reduce the federal deficit, but many would be okay with minor savings in the popular healthcare program, a survey released on Thursday said. The latest tracking survey on healthcare issues by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that the public is more willing to accept Medicare spending cuts if done to shore up the elderly healthcare program rather than for deficit reduction or avoiding tax increases.

Medicare to cover Dendreon's prostate drug

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Medicare and Medicaid federal health insurance programs will fully cover Provenge, Dendreon Corp's expensive treatment for advanced prostate cancer, U.S. regulators said, sending company shares 3 percent higher. The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) ruled on Thursday that there is adequate evidence to pay for Provenge, saying it is "reasonable and necessary" for treating men with advanced prostate cancer whose disease has spread.

California teenagers to get whooping cough vaccination

SACRAMENTO (Reuters) - A California law that takes effect on Friday requires all students in grades 7 through 12 to get booster vaccinations to combat what state health officials say is an outbreak of the illness. More than 9,000 cases of the bacterial infection were reported in California last year, marking the state's biggest outbreak of whooping cough, which is also known as pertussis, in over 60 years.

Cured meats not linked to pancreatic cancer

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - There are no clear signs that eating cured meats like ham, bacon or hot dogs could increase the odds of getting pancreatic cancer, according to a new study. Some research has hinted that might be the case, because the preservatives used for curing, nitrate and nitrite, cause tumors in lab animals.

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