Health Highlights: Jan. 16, 2012

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

Good to Smile: First U.S. Full Face Transplant Patient

The United States’ first full face transplant patient says he’s happy to have facial expressions again.

Dallas Wiens, 25, underwent his transplant 10 months age. His face as burned off in 2008 when his head came into contact with a high-voltage power line. The accident left him blind and he has not recovered his sight, the Associated Press reported.

“The ability to smile and to show emotion on my face, even unintentionally, is such a natural thing,” Wiens told the Dallas Morning News, the AP reported. “Having a new face has changed me dramatically.”

Wiens is the only one of three full face transplant patients in the U.S. who did not suffer an acute rejection of the transplant within the first six months.

The world’s first full face transplant was performed in France in 2005 and since then 18 patients have shown “promising results,” according to a study published last month in The New England Journal of Medicine, the AP reported.


‘Totally Drug-Resistant’ TB Reported in India

The first cases of “totally drug-resistant tuberculosis” in India have been reported by doctors. A dozen medicines were tested and none of them worked.

“It is concerning,” Dr. Kenneth Castro, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevetion’s Division of Tuberculosis Elimination, told the Associated Press. “Anytime we see something like this, we better get on top of it before it becomes a more widespread problem.”

However, no one anticipates a rapid spread of such TB. Most of the cases were the result of mutations that occurred in poorly treated patients, and not caused by person-to-person transmission.

This is not the first occurrence of highly drug-resistant TB. Since 2003, patients have been documented in Italy and Iran. The cases have mostly been restricted to poor areas and the TB has not spread widely, the AP reported.


New Fees Would Accelerate Generic Drug Reviews: FDA

Drug makers could pay hundreds of millions of dollars a year in new fees in order to speed up the review of generic drugs, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says.

An agreement with drug makers was released Friday by the FDA, which will submit the proposal to Congress for approval, the Associated Press reported.

Most new drugs are reviewed in 10 months, but the typical review time for a generic drug is 30 months. The FDA’s backlog of generic drug applications awaiting review is more than 2,000, according to the Generic Pharmaceutical Association.

If approved, generic drug makers would pay $299 million a year so that the FDA could hire more generic drug reviewers starting in fiscal year 2013. With the new reviewers, the FDA’s goal would be to review 90 percent of generic drug applications within 10 months, the AP reported.