Harriet Washington Among Award Winners: The National Book Critics Circle awards were announced March 6 and the general nonfiction award went to Harriet Washington, author of “Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present” (Doubleday).

Related: Faith Childs discusses race, medicine and the Black Women’s Health Study.

Homeward Bound: The L.A. Times this week published a package of stories on aging, centered around the momentum to help seniors retain their independence by remaining in their homes as they get older.

Read more about the network of services available to seniors; the role of older caregivers; where to turn for assistance; and the cost of care.

Tired Beyond Relief: The Washington Post looks at the causes and remedies for fatigue. “People think as you grow older, you fatigue more easily,” said John DeLuca, editor of the 2007 research compilation “Fatigue as a Window to the Brain
(MIT Press, 2007). “The literature shows just the opposite, except in
those who have hypertension or diabetes. If you don’t have fatigue and
you’re elderly, you’re in pretty good shape. Fatigue may be a sign that
something is not right.”

Low-Intensity Exercise Helps Fatigue: Really.

How Good is Good Enough?: Concerning the FDA’s recent approval of Avastin, Boston Globe health columnist Stephen Smith writes: “In patients stricken with advanced breast cancer, the disease can rage
like a wildfire, jumping from hot spot to hot spot, sparking pain and disability. So if there’s a drug that can slow the fire for a while, even if it’s not ultimately doused, does that justify use of the medication? And at what cost, to the patient and to society?”

Plus: Breast Cancer Action recently criticized the FDA’s approval.

Wyeth, Pfizer Ordered to Pay Up Over Menopause Drugs: “Wyeth
and a Pfizer Inc. unit must pay $27.1 million in punitive damages for mishandling menopause drugs that caused a woman’s breast cancer, an Arkansas jury said,” Bloomberg news reports. “Jurors in federal court in Little Rock deliberated about five hours today before finding that Wyeth and Pfizer’s Pharmacia & Upjohn showed ‘reckless disregard’ for the health risks posed by their hormone-replacement drugs and should be punished. The panel awarded $2.75 million in compensatory damages to Arkansas resident Donna Scroggin on Feb. 25.”

Since 2006, Wyeth has lost four of seven cases over Premarin and Prempro. Wyeth says it faces about 5,300 lawsuits, while the plaintiff’s lawyers put the case number at around 7,000.


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