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Nation in brief

No prescription needed for home defibrillators

By wire services
Published September 17, 2004

WASHINGTON - People worried about sudden cardiac arrest no longer need a doctor's prescription to buy devices that jump-start the heart.

The Food and Drug Administration for the first time agreed Thursday to let consumers go online and buy the $2,000 devices for home use. Some 80 percent of the instances of sudden cardiac arrest, which is best treated by a shock from a defibrillator, happen at home.

Until now, people needed a prescription if they wanted to have a HeartStart home defibrillator to use in those crucial minutes after calling 911 and before an ambulance arrived.

The FDA endorsed a July recommendation from its advisory panel to remove the prescription requirement after federal advisers were satisfied that people could use the machines safely at home.

Conjoined twin dies after separation surgery

BALTIMORE - A little girl born with her head fused to that of her twin sister died Thursday, shortly after surgeons separated them.

The surviving 1-year-old twin, Lea Block, lay in critical but stable condition. Lea and her sister, Tabea, from Lemgo, Germany, were separated shortly after midnight, after more than 18 hours of surgery.

Tabea died "of major complications associated with the separation surgery," according to a statement released Thursday by the Johns Hopkins Children's Center.

Medicare to pay for some Alzheimer's brain scans

WASHINGTON - Medicare will start paying for specialized brain scans in some patients to help determine if they have Alzheimer's disease, the federal agency that runs the reimbursement program said Thursday.

The decision caps a four-year struggle by makers of the technology - known as positron emission tomography, or PET - to gain approval from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for PET's use in patients suspected of having Alzheimer's disease.

But in the absence of convincing evidence that PET scans can, by themselves, tell whether a person has Alzheimer's, the agency settled on a much narrower application. It will reimburse for the brain scans only for patients whose Alzheimer's symptoms are not typical and who doctors believe might instead have one of several rare brain diseases known collectively as "fronto-temporal dementia."

Two Florida indictments target terror suspects

WASHINGTON - Two men were indicted in Florida Thursday for allegedly providing financial support and recruitment for al-Qaida and other terror groups, including helping "dirty bomb" suspect Jose Padilla attend terrorist training camps in Afghanistan, according to court records and law enforcement officials.

Adham Amin Hassoun and Mohamed Hesham Youssef were each charged with two counts of providing material support to terrorists as part of a grand jury indictment handed up in U.S. District Court in Miami. Hassoun, a Palestinian who has been in U.S. custody since June 2002, also faces eight previously filed charges, including unlawful possession of a firearm and perjury. Youssef is serving a sentence in Egypt on terrorism charges.

The indictment alleges Hassoun and Youssef helped recruit volunteers and provide money to terrorist groups fighting in Afghanistan, Chechnya, Kosovo and Somalia.

[Last modified September 17, 2004, 02:35:25]

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