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Health Highlights: July 3, 2012

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

Drug Giant GlaxoSmithKline Fined $3 Billion for Fraud

In what government officials say is the largest health-care fraud settlement in U.S. history, drug maker GlaxoSmithKline has been fined $3 billion for falsely promoting two drugs and failing to report important safety data on a third medicine.

The U.S. Department of Justice said Monday that the drug giant promoted the use of the antidepressant Paxil for children, even though it was not approved for people under the age of 18, the Associated Press reported.

Justice officials also said the company encouraged Wellbutrin for purposes other than depression, the only condition for which it has received approval.

The government also charges that between 2001 and 2007, GlaxoSmithKline failed to report on two trials assessing the heart safety of its diabetes drug Avandia, the AP said.

The penalties include $1 billion for criminal fines and forfeitures and $2 billion for civil settlements with federal and state governments.

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Woman With Flesh-Eating Bacteria Leaves Hospital

Aimee Copeland, the young woman from Georgia who has waged a two-month-long battle against a flesh-eating bacteria, left the hospital Monday, CNN reported.

Copeland was discharged Monday morning from Doctors Hospital in Augusta, Ga., according to a hospital spokesman.

Copeland, 24, contracted the infection May 1 in a zip-lining accident in which she tore a gash in her left calf. Three days later she was admitted to the emergency department and was diagnosed as having been infected with necrotizing fasciitis caused by the Aeromonas hydrophilia bacteria.

Copeland had to have most of her hands, one leg and her remaining foot amputated as part of her ordeal and has had multiple skin grafts due to tissue being removed from her abdomen.

She is to be transferred to a rehabilitation facility prior to a return home.

According to her father, Andy Copeland, "Aimee is very excited, like a kid going off to college," CNN reported Monday. "But she also realizes that rehab will be arduous. But she says she will handle it."

Last week he told CNN that his daughter, "needs to be able to develop the autonomy to be able to transfer from her bed to a wheelchair to the shower to the bathroom or anywhere else in the house. And she can do it."

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