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Leader of governors group focuses on grads

BOSTON | The incoming head of the National Governors Association said Sunday he will make increasing the number of students who complete college his focus during his scheduled yearlong tenure.

West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin III, a Democrat, assumed the chairmanship of the NGA on Sunday from Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas, a Republican. Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman, a Republican, replaced Mr. Manchin as vice chairman.

Mr. Manchin said he will work to unite governors, higher education officials, campus leaders and corporate chief executives behind the college initiative he calls “Complete to Compete.”

“If we don’t improve college completion rates in this country, our children will be less educated than we are,” he told reporters. “That will be the first time in the history of the United States of America that will have happened. That should be the most alarming statistic to get you motivated to make changes than anything else we can do.”

Whether Mr. Manchin will be there to see the effort to fruition is a question. He has said it’s “highly likely” he will announce Monday he is running this fall for the Senate seat vacated by the death of Democratic Sen. Robert C. Byrd.

FDA

New weight loss drugs ready for review

Dieters, doctors and investors get their first extensive look at the first of a trio of new weight-loss drugs this week. The hope is that the new drugs can succeed where many others have failed: delivering significant weight loss without risky side effects.

With U.S. obesity rates nearing 35 percent of the adult population, expectations are high for the first new prescription drug therapies to emerge in more than a decade. Even a modestly effective drug has blockbuster potential.

None of the three medicines represents a breakthrough in research. Drugmakers have made little headway in understanding and treating the causes of overeating. Two of the drugs submitted for approval simply combine existing drugs - an anticonvulsant and an amphetamine - but have worrying side effects. The third, a new medication, is safer but less effective.

The quest for a blockbuster weight loss drug has been plagued for decades by safety issues. The most notable was Wyeth’s diet pill drug combination fen-phen, which was pulled off the market in 1997 due to links to heart valve damage and lung problems.

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