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Infectious Kissing Bug Found In Alabama, 25 Other States, CDC Warns

kissing bug Triatoma sanguisuga - CDC image by James Gathany

An insect unique to the Americas commonly known as the “kissing bug” has come to Alabama and Georgia, bringing with it a potentially deadly illness called Chagas Disease, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns. The insect, which is also known as the “assassin bug” or “bloodsucker,” carries inside it the Trypanosoma cruzi parasite, which federal health authorities classify as a “neglected parasitic infection,” underscoring the need to address the threats they pose, especially now that they have become a big problem in Texas. Kissing bugs are typically found in areas of South America, Central America, Mexico, ... Read More

Victoza fails to improve health in heart failure patients


Novo Nordisk has made great strides to expand the indication of its type 2 diabetes drug Victoza by gaining approval for a high-dose version as a weight loss treatment, marketed as Saxenda. The company is also testing the drug as a treatment for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. But a new study found the drug ineffective in patients with advanced heart failure. Heart failure is a chronic condition in which the heart does not pump enough blood through the body. About 5 million Americans have heart failure. The study sought to find whether Victoza, known chemically as liraglutide, could correct defects in ... Read More

Congressman introduces legislation to ban Essure permanent birth control


A Pennsylvania congressman has made good on his promise to introduce legislation to ban the permanent birth control implant Essure in response to complaints from thousands of women who say they have been harmed by the device. U.S. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick introduced the bipartisan bill aimed at revoking the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) premarket approval status of Essure and requiring the manufacturer, Bayer Healthcare, to pull the device from the market. Essure was approved by the FDA in 2002, and remains the only FDA-approved non-surgical permanent birth control method available in the United States. Essure is a flexible, nickel-titanium ... Read More

Zofran for morning sickness linked to birth defects

Pregnant Girl

Lawsuits in a multidistrict litigation (MDL) alleging birth defects from anti-nausea drug Zofran have increased substantially according to a Reuters analysis of statistics from the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict litigation. Zofran, known chemically as ondansetron, is manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline. It is approved to treat nausea for patients undergoing chemotherapy and following surgery, and works by blocking serotonin in the areas of the brain that trigger nausea and vomiting. From 2002 to 2004, GlaxoSmithKline began marketing Zofran for the treatment of morning sickness in pregnant women, an indication the drug was not approved to treat. Doctors have the discretion of ... Read More

Viagra may prevent diabetes, but increase melanoma risk


The erectile dysfunction drug Viagra may help prevent type 2 diabetes in people at risk for the disease, but it may also put them at risk for a deadly form of skin cancer. A small clinical trial published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that Viagra, known chemically as sildenafil, improved insulin sensitivity on overweight people with pre-diabetes. Viagra was also found not to increase the risk of heart or kidney disease. The trial involved just 42 patients, both men and women who were overweight and had been diagnosed with pre-diabetes, a condition in which blood sugar ... Read More

Alarming Levels of Antibiotic-Resistant Superbugs Found In U.S. Meat

ground beef

The presence of antibiotic-resistant superbugs in U.S.-produced meat has soared to alarming levels, Consumer Reports has found. The results of a three-year study, published online by Consumer Reports last week in an article called “Making the World Safe from Superbugs,” indicate that the systematic overuse and abuse of antibiotic drugs in the agricultural industry has allowed bacteria to evolve so that antibiotics are useless against them. These are the potentially lethal “superbugs,” which include methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and bacteria resistant to three or more types of antibiotics. In the section of the report titled “Our Flawed Food Supply,” Consumer ... Read More

Patients with Type 2 diabetes sought for clinical trial comparing medications


More than 50 medical centers associated with universities across the country are recruiting patients with type 2 diabetes to participate in a five-year study to determine the best prescription drug to treat high blood sugar. The study is being conducted by National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. A total of 5,000 participants is being sought. Those who wish to join the clinical trial should have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes within the past 10 years and currently be taking the widely used anti-diabetes drug Metformin. Those who are accepted into the program will receive compensation for their ... Read More

University of Florida Pays $20 Million to Settle Complaint Alleging Grant Fraud


The University of Florida will pay the U.S. government nearly $20 million to settle allegations that it overcharged the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) for salary and administrative costs on hundreds of federal grants and misused grant funds. The federal government filed a False Claims Act complaint against the University of Florida after a Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT) investigation uncovered evidence of fraud. The Justice Department’s Civil Division’s Commercial Litigation Branch and the Dept. of Health and Human Services office of the Inspector General coordinated the settlement with the University of Florida. The University ... Read More

OSHA cites Affordable Exteriors for the fourth time in three years for lack of fall protection

Working on the Wall

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has proposed fines against a Wisconsin roofing contractor for up to $112,000 due to the company allowing employees to work at dangerous heights without proper fall protection equipment. Affordable Exteriors LLC, located in Bloomer, Wisc., had its safety precautions reviewed during an investigation earlier this year by OSHA, which uncovered a plethora of issues associated with the company’s safety procedures. OSHA cited numerous violations, including two violations, one repeated violation and three serious safety citations. Most of the issues at the company’s various residential sites had to do with the lack of fall ... Read More

FDA warns intravascular medical device coatings may peel, cause injuries


The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning of problems with the coatings on intravascular medical devices, including intravascular catheters, guidewires, balloon angioplasty catheters, delivery sheaths, and implant delivery systems, that can cause serious injury to patients. The FDA Safety Alert comes after nearly a dozen recalls and 500 reports of defects with the devices. “The FDA wants to make health care providers aware of the possibility that hydrophilic and/or hydrophobic coatings may separate (e.g., peel, flake, shed, delaminate, slough off) from medical devices and potentially cause serious injuries to patients,” the FDA said in the Safety Alert. “Coating separation ... Read More