ALSO NOTED: Gardasil still hard to find; EC approves Exjade; FDA to review nonconsent trial rules; and much more...

> Merck's cervical cancer vaccine, Gardasil, has been hailed as a major breakthrough, but it's still hard to obtain. Many doctors appear to be waiting a few months before they start giving the shots, saying that they're waiting for insurers to sign on to covering the therapy. Article (sub. req.)

> The European Commission has approved Novartis' Exjade for patients with transfusional iron overload. Report

> Following the controversy over PolyHeme the FDA says it will review its rules for nonconsent trials. Report

> Americans are tipping the scale even more toward obesity. A new report from the Trust for America's Health concludes that Mississippi and a host of Southern states are the worst offenders. Thirteen states now have obesity rates that exceed 25 percent of the population and none of the 50 states are under federal guidelines that suggest a maximum obesity rate of 15 percent. Obesity is a major target for new drug therapies now in clinical testing. Article 

> Wyeth says that the FDA has extended its review period for the extended release form of its depression drug, desvenlafaxine succinate. Wyeth now expects a ruling by January 22. Report

> Octagon Research Solutions, which supplies IT programs to the life sciences industry, has raised $10 million in new venture funding. Report

> Government investigators say that a new $275 million study of chemotherapy patients contains unreliable data. Article

> Bio-Reference Laboratories said it will buy the Maryland gene-testing outfit GeneDx for $10 million up front and another $7 million in milestone payments. Report

And Finally… British officials are warning people against unfounded claims of stem cell "miracle cures" that have been cropping up around the world. Article