Health Highlights: June 17, 2013

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

Drug Makers Can be Sued Over Deals to Delay Generic Drug Sales: U.S. Supreme Court

Makers of brand-name drugs can be sued for violating U.S. antitrust laws if they pay a potential competitor to delay selling generic versions of the drugs, the Supreme Court ruled Monday in a 5-3 decision.

The court said that a "large and unjustified" payment to settle a patent dispute over generic drugs can trigger an antitrust claim against the maker of the brand-name drug, the Los Angeles Times reported.

So-called "pay-for-delay" deals between brand-name and generic drug makers cost consumers and health plans $3.5 billion a year, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

Monday's ruling is expected to lead to lower drug prices for consumers, the Times reported.


Komen Breast Cancer Charity Announces New CEO

The new CEO of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure breast cancer charity is Judith Salerno, who most recently was executive director and chief operating officer of the Institute of Medicine.

Founder Nancy Brinker announced last summer that she would step down as CEO after Komen faced widespread criticism for announcing that it would stop giving grants to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screenings. The group later reversed that decision, the Associated Press reported.

Brinker began the charity in honor of her sister, who died of breast cancer in 1980.

"Komen's commitment has helped countless numbers of low-income and medically underserved women and men get care they might otherwise have gone without, and Komen's research program is one of the most highly respected in the nation," Salerno, 61, said in a statement released by the charity, the AP reported.


Four More MERS Deaths in Saudi Arabia

Four more people in Saudi Arabia have died from a new SARS-like virus, bringing to 32 the total number of deaths the respiratory disease has caused in the kingdom.

Overall, nearly 40 people have died from the MERS virus since September, mostly in the Middle East and Europe, according to the World Health Organization. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cases have been reported in Saudi Arabia, France, Italy, Jordan, Qatar, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and the U.K., CBS News/Associated Press reported.

On Monday, the Saudi Health Ministry also said that it had confirmed three more cases of the virus, including a 2-year-old child. Health officials are still trying to determine how easily the virus spreads between humans.

The MERS virus is related to SARS, which killed about 800 people worldwide in 2003. The WHO continues to monitor the situation but has issued no recommendations about travel or trade restrictions, CBS News/AP reported.


Children's Hand Transplant Program Announced by U.S. Hospital

The world's first hand transplant program for children is being launched by Boston Children's Hospital.

Patients will include children born without hands, those who lose hands in accidents, and youngsters with infections that require damaged hands to be amputated, the Associated Press reported.

Only one child in the world is known to have had a hand transplant. The case involved a baby girl in Malaysia in 2000 who received a hand from a twin who died at birth.

"We feel that this is justifiable," Dr. Amir Taghinia, who will lead the new transplant program, told the AP. "Children will potentially benefit even more from this procedure than adults" because they regrow nerves more quickly and have more problems with prosthetic hands, he explained.

The main risk facing children who have hand transplants comes from immune suppressing drugs used to prevent rejection of the new hand. These drugs cause side effects and may increase the child's long-term risk of cancer.

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