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Health Highlights: May 6, 2013

Pfizer Offers Viagra Online; FDA Criticized for OK'ing Combo Cholesterol Pill; Veterans at Higher Risk for Traffic Crashes

WebMD News from HealthDay

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

FDA Warns About Breast Cancer Drug Name Confusion

The generic names of two breast cancer drugs can cause confusion and lead to dosing errors, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns.

One drug's brand name is Kadcyla and its generic name is ado-trastuzumab emtansine. The other drug's brand name is Herceptin and its generic name is trastuzumab. Some electronic health record systems pharmacy prescription processing and ordering systems incorrectly use the name trastuzumab emtansine when referring to Kadcyla.

"The dosing and treatment schedules for Kadcyla and Herceptin ... are quite different, so confusion between these products could lead to dosing errors and potential harm to patients," the FDA said.

Since Kadcyla was approved on Feb. 22, 2013, there have not been any reported medication errors related to the confusion between Kadcyla and Herceptin. However, errors did occur during clinical trials for Kadcyla before its approval.

Health care professionals should use both the brand name for Kadcyla and its full generic name when writing medication orders or using computerized order entry systems, the FDA said.

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Antibiotic-Resistant Gonorrhea Strain 'Very Dangerous'

The impact of an antibiotic-resistant strain of gonorrhea could match that of HIV/AIDS, according to some experts.

The strain, called HO41, has been placed in the superbug category along with other antibiotic-resistant bacteria, such as methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), CNBC reported.

No deaths from HO41 gonorrhea have been reported, but this is "an emergency situation" and "it's getting more hazardous" as time passes, according to William Smith, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors.

"This might be a lot worse than AIDS in the short run because the bacteria is more aggressive and will affect more people quickly," Alan Christianson, a doctor of naturopathic medicine, told CNBC.

"Getting gonorrhea from this strain might put someone into septic shock and death in a matter of days," he explained. "This is very dangerous."

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Pfizer Offers Viagra Online

In a first for the drug industry, Pfizer Inc. will start selling Viagra directly to patients on its website.

Men will still need a prescription to buy the erectile dysfunction drug on viagra.com but won't have to deal with a pharmacist, the Associated Press reported.

Pfizer's decision to sell Viagra online is an attempt to counter Internet pharmacies that sell counterfeit versions of the drug for a much cheaper price and with no prescription needed.

Counterfeit versions of many other brand-name drugs are also sold online and other major drug companies will be keeping close tabs on Pfizer's strategy, the AP reported.

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FDA Criticized for OK'ing Combo Cholesterol Pill

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's recent approval of a new cholesterol-lowering pill called Liptruzet "just doesn't make any sense," an expert says.

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

Is Your Cholesterol Level Heart Healthy?
What is your LDL (low-density lipoprotein) level?

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Answer:
Desirable
0-199
Borderline
200-239
High
240+

Your level is currently

Congratulations! Your total cholesterol level is in the Desirable range, and your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is optimal.

Congratulations! Your total cholesterol level is in the Desirable range, and your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is near optimal.

Your total cholesterol level is in the Desirable range, but your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is borderline high. If your LDL goes higher, your total cholesterol level could become Borderline High. Consider reducing the amount of foods you eat with saturated fats and increasing physical activity. If you get more exercise, your level of "good" HDL cholesterol may increase, which could also help to keep your levels of LDL and total cholesterol in check.

Your total cholesterol level is in the Desirable range, but your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is High. This may mean that your level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or "good" cholesterol, is too low. It is best to have a high level of "good" HDL and a low level of "bad" LDL. The HDL helps keep your LDL level in check. Ask your doctor for your HDL level. If your HDL is low, increasing your physical activity can increase it, which may help reduce your LDL level.

Your total cholesterol level is in the Desirable range, but your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Very High. This may mean that your level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or "good" cholesterol, is too low. It is best to have a high level of "good" HDL and a low level of "bad" LDL because the HDL helps keep your LDL level in check. Ask your doctor for your HDL level. If your HDL is low, increasing your physical activity can increase it, which may help reduce your LDL level.

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High, but fortunately your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is optimal. This could mean you have a high level of high-density lipoprotein, or "good" HDL cholesterol, which protects against heart disease. Or you could have other non-measured increases in LDL-like particles that can increase heart disease. Your LDL level also could be optimal if you are taking a statin medication. Please check with your doctor to get your complete lipid profile and see if you may need additional treatment. In the meantime, find more information on WebMD's Cholesterol Health Center.

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High, but fortunately your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is near optimal. This could mean you have a high level of high-density lipoprotein, or "good" HDL cholesterol, which protects against heart disease. Or you could have other non-measured increases in LDL-like particles that can increase heart disease. Your LDL level also could be optimal if you are taking a statin medication. Please check with your doctor to get your complete lipid profile and see if you may need additional treatment. In the meantime, find more information on WebMD's Cholesterol Health Center.

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High. Your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Borderline High, too. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels!

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High. Your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is High. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels!

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High. But your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Very High. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels!

Your total cholesterol is High, but your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is optimal. This could mean you have a high level of high-density lipoprotein, or "good" HDL cholesterol, which protects against heart disease. Or you could have elevated secondary lipids, such as non-HDL particles that increase the risk of heart disease. Your LDL level also could be optimal if you are taking a statin medication. Please check with your doctor to get your complete lipid profile and see if you may need additional treatment. In the meantime, find more information on WebMD's Cholesterol Health Center.

Your total cholesterol is High, but your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is near optimal. This could mean you have a high level of high-density lipoprotein, or "good" HDL cholesterol, which protects against heart disease. Or you could have elevated secondary lipids, such as non-HDL particles that increase the risk of heart disease. Your LDL level also could be optimal if you are taking a statin medication. Please check with your doctor to get your complete lipid profile and see if you may need additional treatment. In the meantime, find more information on WebMD's Cholesterol Health Center.

Your total cholesterol level is High. Your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Borderline High. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels!

Your total cholesterol level is High. Your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is High, too. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels! If you are struggling to bring down your total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels, your doctor may prescribe medication, such as statins. Following medication, dietary, and exercise instructions should result in improvements.

Your total cholesterol level is High, and your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Very High. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels! If you are struggling to bring down your total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels, your doctor may prescribe statins or other cholesterol-lowering medications.

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