Obama's healthcare law appealed to Supreme Court

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration on Wednesday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to back the centerpiece of Barack Obama's sweeping healthcare overhaul -- the requirement that all Americans have health insurance. The appeal was largely expected as a high court ruling against the law could be a fatal blow to the president's signature domestic policy achievement and could have major implications for his re-election bid.

Analysis: States lobby against Medicaid cuts in Congress

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - With billions of dollars in Medicaid spending at risk in Congress, states are forming a loose confederacy to oppose any federal cuts that could damage state budgets already awash in red ink. The "red" and "blue" states that mark America's political divide between conservative and liberal sympathies are often far apart on issues involving healthcare, including Medicaid, the $420 billion-a-year program for the poor.

Listeria cases likely to rise through October: officials

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Cases of illness in the U.S. listeria outbreak linked to tainted cantaloupes -- already the deadliest in a decade -- likely will rise in the next month as more people who have been infected with the bacteria begin to develop symptoms, health officials said on Wednesday. To date, 13 people have died and 72 people have been infected in the outbreak in 18 states, including two pregnant women, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (For a graphic on the outbreak, click here: http://link.reuters.com/nax93s)

Old anti-smoking drug passes new test

(Reuters Health) - Cytisine, an extract from the seeds of the Golden Rain acacia that was first marketed in Bulgaria in 1964, can give smokers an inexpensive assist in kicking the habit, according to the first large modern study of the drug. In the test on 740 volunteers, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, 8.4 percent of those who were given cytisine for 25 days stayed off cigarettes for one year, compared with 2.4 percent in the placebo group. (http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1102035)

More deaths when green doctors place neck stents

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - People about to undergo a controversial stenting procedure in the neck might want to check their doctor's credentials first, researchers say. According to a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, patients whose doctors do lots of the procedures are nearly half as likely to die over the next month as those in less-experienced hands.

Laughter good medicine for dementia patients:study

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Laughter may be good medicine for elderly dementia patients -- and best of all, it doesn't have side effects. Australian humor therapist Jean-Paul Bell was originally a clown doctor working with sick children, but now he makes the elderly laugh through a programme called Play-Up.

Analysis: Open-access R&D one answer to drug industry woes

LONDON (Reuters) - Drug companies are learning how to share. In a bid to save both time and money, some of the industry's biggest names are experimenting with new ways to pool early-stage research, effectively taking a leaf out of the "open-source" manual that gave the world Linux software.

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