SEARCH

Friday
Jan142011

McNeil Issues Voluntary Recall on Common Over-the-Counters

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(FORT WASHINGTON, Pa.) -- McNeil Consumer Health Care initiated a voluntary recall on certain lots of Tylenol 8 Hour, Tylenol Arthritis Pain, Tylenol upper respiratory products, Benadryl, Sudafed PE and Sinatab products distributed in the United States, the Caribbean and Brazil.  These particular lots were manufactured at the McNeil plant in Fort Washington, Pa. prior to April 2010 when the facility's activity was suspended.  

While McNeil says the quality of these products has not likely been compromised, the pharmaceutical company is taking this precautionary measure after discovering that many of the plant's equipment cleaning procedures were not up to adequate standards or were not properly documented.  The company highlighted in a statement that the recalls are not due to "adverse events."

McNeil is also recalling certain lots of Rolaids Multi-Symtom Berry Tablets distributed in the United States to bring the product's labeling up to regulation standards.

All recalls will happen at the wholesale level only.  McNeil says that "no action is required by consumers or healthcare providers.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jan142011

Is Breastfeeding Exclusively for Six Months Best?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LONDON) -- A group of U.K. researchers are now questioning the guidelines on how long mothers should breastfeed, adding uncertainty into an already stressful debate.

In an editorial published in the British Medical Journal, Dr. Mary Fewtrell, from the University College London Institute of Child Health, and colleagues argue that babies who are breastfed exclusively for six months are at a higher risk for iron deficiency and food allergies including celiac disease.  They also suggest that waiting six months to introduce weaning foods can lead to the underdevelopment of taste, which might have long-term implications on diet.

Three of the four authors acknowledged having consulted or received research funding within the past three years from companies that manufacture infant formulas and baby foods.

The editorial spawned criticism from pediatricians and lactation specialists, who adamantly believe that exclusive breastfeeding for six months is the gold standard in neonatal nutrition.

"We in lactation and breastfeeding medicine have worked hard over the past 10 years literally fighting both our medical colleagues who are not educated in lactation, and our culture, to establish exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months as the evidence-based norm and standard of care for virtually every baby," said Dr. Kathleen Marinelli, associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine.

Although 75 percent of new moms in the U.S. start breastfeeding, only 13 percent are still breastfeeding exclusively at six months, according to the CDC.  Advocacy groups have pushed for better resources and support to make six months of breastfeeding more feasible for new moms, many of whom return to work less than six weeks after giving birth.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan132011

FDA to Restrict Acetaminophen Content in Prescription Drugs

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration Thursday asked drug manufacturers to limit the strength of acetaminophen, a drug commonly used in both prescription and over-the-counter medications, in their products.  Combination prescription medications will be allowed to include no more than 325 mg of acetaminophen in each tablet or capsule.

The FDA's decision to restrict the drug's content level comes from acetaminophen's risk of severe liver injury as well as its associated allergic reactions.

Additionally, manufacturers of products containing acetaminophen will now be required to include a boxed warning emphasizing the potential risk of liver toxicity and a warning listing the drug's potential allergic reactions such as swelling of the face, mouth and throat, difficulty breathing, itching or rash.

The agency highlights that the action will only affect prescription medications (e.g., Vicodin, Lortab).  Over-the-counter products used to reduce pain and fever (e.g., Tylenol) were not included in the FDA's decision.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan132011

Bayer Tests Fat-Loss Injection for Double Chin

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LEVERKUSEN, Germany) -- A simple injection in the neck to get rid of that double chin? Sounds too good to be true, and that very well may be the case concerning Bayer's newest fat-dissolving injectable, ATX-101, which is beginning phase III trials in Europe.

The upcoming multi-center, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study will test the efficacy of ATX-101 for eliminating localized fat under the chin, known as submental fat. The companies announced Monday that they are enrolling patients for the trial in France, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Italy and the U.K.

The drug utilizes half of the two-drug, off-label cocktail used for the notoriously problematic fat-dissolving injectable Lipodissolve that prompted a public warning by the Food and Drug Administration in spring 2010.

Lipodissolve, which was marketed as a quick and easy "lunchtime lipo" procedure a few years back, utilized two chemicals, phosphatidylcholine (PC) and deoxycholate (DC), neither of which were FDA approved for fat elimination.

ATX-101, is just sodium deoxycholate (DC in solution).

Research has shown PC actually inhibits the fat-dissolving effects of DC, so researchers are testing the efficacy of DC alone for fat elimination, said KYTHERA Biopharmaceuticals, Inc., which teamed with Bayer in August 2010 for the upcoming trial.

KYTHERA hopes ultimately to bring an FDA-approved compound for injectable fat elimination to the U.S. market. Two phase II trials in humans have been done in the U.S. so far and a third is underway.

"We are very pleased with the progress that has been made in Europe with ATX-101," Keith Leonard, KYTHERA's president and CEO, said in a press release on the trial. "The initiation of these Phase III studies marks an important milestone in our collaboration with Intendis and further demonstrates the potential of ATX-101 as a first-in-class injectable drug for localized fat reduction."

But plastic surgeons are wary of this renewed attempt to test DC as a cosmetic fat-dissolver.

"I would be very cautious. Even if it's approved in Europe, people will start purchasing it and sneaking into the U.S. illegally," said Dr. Darrick Antell, a plastic surgeon at Roosevelt Hospital in New York and a spokesman for the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. "There's no doubt in my mind that if it's approved for the small area [under the chin], then people will start using for large areas and I have no doubt that there will invariably be adverse effects. [Injectable fat-dissolvers] need a lot more work. People who would use this sort of medicine at this point would be like driving ahead of your headlights."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan132011

Genetically Modified Chickens Stop Bird Flu Spread

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The idea of tweaking genes for healthier, tastier or more abundant food makes some people uneasy. But what if genetically modified food could help prevent the spread of a deadly disease, saving human and animal lives as well as money?

According to a study published in Science, genetically modified chickens could stop the bird flu virus -- specifically the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain -- in its tracks.

"The chickens can be infected, but they don't pass the virus on to other chickens in the flock," said study co-author Professor Helen Sang from The Roslin Institute at the University of Edinburgh.

Bird flu outbreaks in the U.S. are rare and involve viral strains that generally affect birds. But over 400 human cases of H5N1 have been reported in more than a dozen countries across Europe, Asia, Africa and the Pacific, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Roughly 60 percent of these have been fatal.

Although there's no sign of H5N1 in the U.S., the country still feels the fury of bird flu. The virus is transmitted to chickens by wild birds, forcing farmers to slaughter entire flocks. So while it hasn't threatened public health, bird flu continues to fuel significant animal welfare worries and economic woes.

But given the logistical challenges of replacing current flocks with the flu-fighting variety -- not to mention mixed feelings about genetically modified food -- the GM approach to beating bird flu may be hard to get off the ground.

"Replacing the world's chicken population with genetically modified chickens wouldn't be cheap. It looks good on a drawing board, but it might not fly," said William Schaffner, chair of preventative medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. "There are lots of great ideas out there, but the filter of realty whittles them down pretty quickly."

But as poultry farming becomes more centralized, farmers are beginning to get their stock from a few, large suppliers, according to Sang.

"I think it would be very hard to get to the backyard chickens in many of the affected countries," Sang said. "But the majority of the poultry raised are coming from a small number of breading companies and producers who could choose to incorporate the genetic modification into their breeding program."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan132011

Writing Can Help Avoid Choking Under Pressure

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Jasmin Sultana, 24, of Queens, N.Y., knows only too well what it means to choke under pressure.

The first time she took her driving test, tears welled up in her eyes and she could not see the road. She pulled over mid-test, stopped the car, and told the tester, "I just can't do this."

"Even though I was prepared for it, leading up to it I was really sweaty," said Sultana. "I started to feel nervous, and during the test I started crying."

The second and third time she took the test, Sultana could feel her stress level building. Again, she choked.

"I just couldn't concentrate," she said. "It became such a long process to pass this test."

Sultana was wrapping up her final college year before she got the nerve to try it again. This time she brought a friend along. Right before the test, her friend assured her there was nothing to worry about.

Sultana thought about failure, she told her friend. She thought about what her tester thought about her. She thought taking a deep breath to quell the anxiety won't work for her. But she also thought, "I've got to pass this thing." She didn't want to take this test again.

"Telling someone put things in perspective for me, that it's just a test that I've been prepared for," said Sultana, who went on to pass the test.

Letting out all of her fearful thoughts before test time may have done the trick, according to a new study published Thursday in the journal Science. The study suggests that simply writing about your anxiety just a few minutes before a high-stakes event can help you perform significantly better.

Researchers conducted four separate studies that focused on test-taking anxieties of high school and college students. Before giving the students a test, researchers assigned different groups of students with high performance anxiety to either write down their anxieties about taking the upcoming test, write freely about any topic, or not write at all.

"I am afraid I am going to make a mistake," wrote one student in the expressive writing group.

"I just want to stop thinking about how I am going to fail," another student wrote.

The study found that those who wrote about their test anxiety in some cases received a whole grade letter higher than those who wrote about an unrelated event, or did not take the time to write.

"It's really a counterintuitive finding -- that dwelling on your worries can have a positive impact," said Sian Beilock, an associate professor in the department of psychology in The University of Chicago and co-author of the study.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan132011

Cancer Costs Predicted to Skyrocket by 2012

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BETHESDA, Md.) -- Karin Gaines of Rockford, Ill., is battling breast cancer for the second time in her life. She's taking two different medications to treat her disease, which also has spread to her bones.

In addition to the physical and mental toll her disease takes on her, it's also very difficult for her financially. Though she says she's fortunate to have COBRA insurance, her out-of-pocket costs are steep.

"COBRA is really expensive, and I still have out-of-pocket costs at the beginning of the year. Plus, every time I go in for a test or to see the doctor, there's a $30 co-pay," said Gaines, who is 56. "Last year, my out-of-pocket cost was $10,000."

Gaines knows she isn't alone, that there are many other cancer patients who are uninsured and have to foot enormous bills on their own.

Those costs, according to a new study by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), are expected to soar to $158 billion by the year 2020.

Researchers led by Angela Mariotto, a statistician in the NCI's Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences in Bethesda, Md. analyzed available data on the number of new cancer cases, survival rates after diagnosis and costs of care, and projected a staggering 27 percent increase in the cost of cancer care over the next decade.

The most expensive cancers are breast cancer, colorectal cancer, lymphoma, lung cancer and prostate cancer.

"This number is a bit higher than we expected," said Mariotto.

She said the data are estimates that assume the number of new cancer cases remains the same over time, treatment-related costs remain the same and the population ages at the rate projected by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The NCI study also estimated that if costs in the early and late stages of cancer treatment rise by two percent a year, which is consistent with current trends, the projected cost of cancer could be as high as $173 billion a year.

Experts said the increase has a number of causes, including increased cancer survival, a growing number of older Americans, treatment advances and the desire to offer and receive the best and most care.

One of the main reasons for the skyrocketing cancer price tag is the growing number of Americans who are getting older.

"Cancer is a disease that affects more older people than younger, so the burden will be greater in 2020 than it is today," said Mariotto.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan132011

USDA to Announce Healthier New School Lunch Guidelines

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture will announce Thursday the first new school lunch guidelines in 15 years.

Throughout that time span, childhood obesity rates in the country have continued to rise.

"The more we can reinforce the right set of choices and encourage the right set of choices, the greater the chances are that we will get a handle on obesity," U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack told ABC News.

The new guidelines, which are based on an Institute of Medicine study, will call for a reduction in saturated fat, sugar and sodium.  Schools will be required to serve more whole grains, as well as serving both fruits and vegetables daily.  And, for the first time, schools will have to set maximum calorie counts in addition to minimum ones.

Here's an example of a current school lunch:

-- Breaded beef patty on a roll
-- Fruit popsicle
-- Low-fat milk

And here's what a meal might look like under the new rules:

-- Baked fish nuggets
-- Whole wheat roll
-- Mashed potatoes
-- Broccoli
-- Peaches
-- Skim milk

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan132011

Study: Thirdhand Smoke More Hazardous Than Previously Believed

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Thirdhand smoke -- the smoke that sticks to clothing, hair and furniture -- may be more dangerous than previously believed, according to a new study from the American Chemical Society.

The study, published in ACS’ journal, Environmental Science & Technology, found that residual nicotine from thirdhand smoke can form toxic pollutants when it comes in contact with ozone in indoor air.  As a result, babies crawling on carpets, people laying on couches or people eating tainted food could be at a health risk.

Researchers for the study, which was published in ACS’ journal, Environmental Science & Technology, tested how nicotine interacted with indoor air on various materials, like cellulose and cotton, to simulate results on household surfaces.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan122011

Teens Seek Plastic Surgery to Combat Bullying

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- There is a small but growing number of teenagers who say being teased or bullied prompted them to consider or even undergo cosmetic surgery. Nearly 90,000 teenagers had cosmetic surgery in 2007, and doctors say the numbers are growing.

"I do see a fair amount of parents coming in with their child because of bullying and teasing and feelings of self-consciousness," Dr. Michael Fiorillo, a cosmetic surgeon, said. "My preference is, of course, to work out the issues first, the bullying, the teasing. But there are certain situations where people are mature enough. And surgery is a final resort."

Popular cosmetic surgeries for teenagers include nose jobs, breast reductions, breast augmentations, ear tucks and Botox injections.

But while teens say plastic surgery helps them to gain self-esteem, critics say they're potentially losing on a number of levels.

"The idea of someone getting plastic surgery to avoid bullying seems to me as crazy and worrisome as if a black person were to go to a doctor and say, 'I wanna become white to avoid racism,'" Dr. Ned Hallowell, a child psychiatrist, said. "The problem is clearly with the phenomenon of bullying, and not with the person's nose."

Hallowell said parents who allow their teens to get plastic surgery may be putting them at risk, both psychologically and physically.

"Any time you have any kind of surgery, there's risk of infection, risk of -- the wrong patient getting the wrong procedure," Hallowell said. "So, you [want to] have darn good reasons for doing it. And when you do the risk-benefit analysis, cosmetic surgery, to avoid bullying, unless you are severely deformed, clearly doesn't pass the test."

Hallowell says teens who are determined to have cosmetic surgery should, at the very least, wait until they've reached adulthood.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio