Headlines: July 30, 2010
by Meg Larkin
First, in public health news, anti-smoking efforts seem to be losing out in the face of increased anti-obesity funding. The New York Times reports that with the shift in public health priorities from smoking prevention to obesity prevention, many institutions that once heavily funded anti-tobacco efforts are now putting that money elsewhere. The Times further reports that not only private foundations, but also State governments are shifting their priorities. Although States continue to raise taxes on tobacco products, the revenue from those taxes is increasingly being put into the general treasure instead of being used to fund anti-smoking programs. However, Dr. Howard K. Koh, assistant secretary for health, said that there was “unprecedented funding from the federal government on both issues.” This year the administration spent $722 million on tobacco issues and $821 million on “obesity control and research.”
In pharmaceutical news, Sanofi Aventis is likely to make a bid to buy Boston biotech company Genzyme. The unsolicited offer of up to $70 a share would be worth about $18.6 billion. In order to make clear its intentions, Sanofi would likely issue a “bear hug letter,” which would be friendly on the surface, but would also signal the company’s willingness to consider a hostile takeover. Sanofi’s efforts could be complicated by two powerful activist investors at Genzyme: Carl Ichan and Ralph Whitworth, who both hold seats on the board and have been pushing Genzyme to increase its stock price. Genzyme has struggled this year because of viral contamination at its major production plant earlier this year.
Finally, the Washington Post reports that compression-only CPR may be just as effective as traditional CPR. The studies involved telephone emergency dispatchers instructing bystanders on how to perform CPR. Both studies reviewed by the Post found that “patients who got only chest compressions were as likely to survive as ones getting conventional CPR that included rescue breathing.” Currently only about one quarter of people who suffer a cardiac event outside the hospital get CPR before paramedics arrive. By eliminating rescue breathing, also known as mouth to mouth breathing, some researchers hope that more people will be willing and able to perform CPR until professional help arrives.
Meg Larkin is a law student at Boston University. Please feel free to email her with any questions, comments, suggestions or concerns.