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Dozens sickened, four dead after eating prepackaged caramel apples

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Consumers are being warned not to eat prepackaged caramel apples they have been linked to four deaths and more than two dozen illness in 10 states. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified at least 28 cases in which people were sickened with the bacterial infection listerosis after eating the caramel apples. Twenty-six of those who became ill required hospitalization, and five died. However, health officials do not think listeria caused the death of one of the deceased. Prepackaged caramel apples are most popular around Halloween, and it was mid-October when reports of illness began pouring in ... Read More

Compounding pharmacy owners, employees face criminal charges in fungal meningitis outbreak

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Two officials with the Massachusetts compounding pharmacy that caused a multistate outbreak of deadly fungal infections in 2012 have been charged with criminal activity including second-degree murder. The 131-count indictment lays out charges against the company’s co-founders and 12 other employees of the New England Compounding Center (NECC), which produced about 18,000 contaminated steroid shots and shipped them to medical facilities in 23 states. The shots, used to treat back, neck and joint pain, sickened more than 750 people with fungal infections including fungal meningitis, and killed 64. Co-founder Barr Cadden and senior pharmacist Glenn Chin were charged with the ... Read More

FDA strongly discourages keepsake fetal heartbeat monitoring, ultrasound images

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is strongly discouraging pregnant women from getting keepsake heartbeat and ultrasound images and videos of fetuses because it could heat and damage tissue, which could be hazardous to unborn babies’ health. “Although there is a lack of evidence of any harm due to ultrasound imaging and heartbeat monitors, prudent use of these devices by trained health care providers is important,” says Shahram Vaezy, PhD, an FDA biomedical engineer. “Ultrasound can heat tissues slightly, and in some cases, it can also produce very small bubbles (cavitation) in some tissues.” The long-term effects of tissue heating ... Read More

E-cigarette vapor contains 10 times more toxins than tobacco smoke, Japanese study finds

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A new study commissioned by Japan’s Health Ministry has determined that, contrary to widely held beliefs among consumers, electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, do not provide a safer alternative to conventional tobacco cigarettes. In fact, researchers determined that e-cigarettes contain about 10 times more cancer-causing toxins than regular tobacco. The Japanese study, prompted by the soaring use of e-cigarettes in that country, revealed that the nicotine-laced vapor in several e-cigarette fluid brands contains significant levels of formaldehyde, a known human carcinogen and acetaldehyde, which is harmful to the lungs, heart, and blood vessels, among other toxins. The high levels of formaldehyde ... Read More

Statin therapy linked to serious cataracts

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People who use cholesterol-lowering statin medication are at greater risk of developing cataracts severe enough to require surgery, according to two studies. Researchers say the findings suggest more research is warranted “especially in light of increased statin use for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease and the importance of acceptable vision in old age, when cardiovascular disease is common,” researchers wrote. The study is published in the December 2014 issue of the Canadian Journal of Cardiology. One of the cohorts involved 162,501 men and women who during follow-up visits with ophthalmologists from 2000 to 2007 became candidates for surgery to correct ... Read More

Ford expands Takata airbag recall nationwide

Takata airbag - image source alexauto321, wikicommons

Ford Motor Co. announced Thursday it is expanding its Takata airbag recall to include drivers’ side airbags nationwide. Previously, the automaker limited its recall to vehicles in high-humidity states. The defective airbags contain a moisture-sensitive inflator mechanism that can cause airbags to deploy with excessive force or explode, spraying vehicle occupants with metal shrapnel. Recalls so far have been limited to humid regions of the U.S. because it is thought that the airbags’ chemically driven inflator mechanisms can be corrupted by air moisture. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been pressing manufacturers to expand recall efforts to ... Read More

Testosterone increases colon cancer incidence in lab rats

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The male hormone testosterone may cause cancerous tumor growth in the colon, according to new research. Researchers at the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine observed normal levels of naturally occurring colon cancer in a group of male rats. When the testosterone was removed from those rats, colon cancer rates decreased dramatically. When the testosterone was reintroduced, the colon cancer rates returned to normal. It was previously thought that female hormones may have offered some protection against tumor susceptibility. “However, by showing that removing testosterone from rats leads to a dramatic decrease in colon cancer susceptibility, it appears that ... Read More

Drug companies eager to test type 2 diabetes drugs as weight loss treatments

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Manufacturers of some type 2 diabetes drugs are working on federal approval to expand their drug’s indication to include weight loss even in patients who do not have the chronic disease. When Novo Nordisk discovered that its type 2 diabetes drug Victoza had a side effect of weight loss, the company set out to test the drug at higher doses in clinical trials to see if it could trigger weight loss in both diabetics and non-diabetics. Data shows that the drug can melt up to 10 percent of body mass and, as a result, Novo Nordisk has filed for marketing ... Read More

Lawsuit questions exorbitant price tag of Hepatitis C drug Sovaldi

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Even before the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the marketing of drug to treat the most common form of Hepatitis C, questions were raised about the seemingly exorbitant price tag. Now the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) has filed a lawsuit against Gilead Sciences, makers of the drug Sovaldi. The class action lawsuit claims that Gilead’s patent protection is not enough to justify the tens of thousands it costs per treatment course. Since the drug was approved late last year, SEPTA has spent $2.4 million on Sovaldi for its employees. A single 12-week regime of Sovaldi costs $84,000. In ... Read More

New Jersey city settles whistleblower retaliation lawsuit with police lieutenant

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A South New Jersey police officer who claimed his department retaliated against him for reporting a traffic ticket-fixing incident could receive a $100,000 if his whistleblower settlement is approved by the Millville City Commission. Lieutenant Edward Zadroga sued the City of Millville last January, alleging he has endured harassment, ridicule, and other forms of retaliation for reporting the ticket incident to the Cumberland, N.J., County Prosecutor’s Office. Mr. Zadroga’s whistleblower retaliation lawsuit alleges the Millville Police Department ordered police officer Edmund Ansara “void an otherwise valid traffic summons for a family friend and a retired officer’s daughter” connected to an ... Read More