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Health Highlights: March 13, 2014

FDA Head Defends Approval of Zohydro Pain DrugExperimental Drug Will be Given to Young Boy: Drug Company

WebMD News from HealthDay

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

FDA Head Defends Approval of Zohydro Pain Drug

The controversial painkiller Zohydro fills an "important and unique niche" for treating pain, the head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Thursday in defending the agency's decision to approve the drug.

During questioning before a Senate committee, Dr. Margaret Hamburg said the pill met the government's effectiveness and safety requirements, the Associated Press reported.

A number of lawmakers have criticized the FDA's approval of Zohydro, which is the first pure version of hydrocodone, the most abused medication in the nation. One question is why Zohydro was not made in a way to prevent drug abusers from injecting or snorting it.

Such forms are still in the early stages of development, Hamburg said.

Currently, the only FDA-approved drug with features meant to reduce the risk of abuse is OxyContin, the AP reported.

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Experimental Drug Will be Given to Young Boy: Drug Company

A drug company has changed its mind and will give a 7-year-old boy an experimental drug that could save his life.

Chimerix announced Tuesday that Josh Hardy will be the first patient in a new trial of the drug brincidofovir that's scheduled to start Wednesday, CNN reported.

Josh's parents and supporters had waged online and media campaigns to persuade Chimerix to provide the drug to the young boy, but the company had refused until now. Josh has battled different forms of cancer since he was 9 months old.

A bone marrow transplant left Josh with a severely weakened immune system and he was diagnosed in February with an adenovirus that spread through his body. He has heart and kidney failure and is in critical condition, CNN reported.

A statement released Tuesday by St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis said the medication for Josh was expected to arrive there within 48 hours.

"It is also important to understand that this remains a critical and complex medical situation," the hopsital noted in the statement, CNN reported.

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