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FDA approves first drug for rare form of skin cancer

skin cancer, Merkel cell carcinoma

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first medication to treat a rare but aggressive form of skin cancer called Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC). Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers, but MCC is rare with only about 1,600 people in the U.S. diagnosed each year. It usually appears as a flesh-colored or bluish-red nodule most often seen on the face, head or neck. Most patients with MCC are diagnosed with localized tumors that can be treated with surgical resection, but about half of them will experience a recurrence and the disease will spread in more ... Read More

Rule Setting Minimum Training Standards For Commercial Drivers Delayed Again

truck driver - Wikipedia

A new rule setting nationwide minimum-training standards for entry-level commercial drivers that was to take effect in early February has been pushed back again by the Trump administration. Instead of going into effect Feb 6 as it was originally scheduled to do, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) delayed the date to March 21, 2017. The notice published for that date, however, postpones the rule’s effective date another two months to May 22, 2017. The original compliance date of Feb. 7, 2020 has so far remained the same despite the delays. The delays stem from a Jan. 20 executive ... Read More

J&J unfazed by growing number of Risperdal lawsuits


Lawsuits pending in a mass tort in Pennsylvania involving disfiguring side effects allegedly caused by the antipsychotic drug Risperdal have grown by nearly 40 percent from 2015, and the number is expected to climb higher. The thousands of people suing Risperdal makers Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals claim the drug company knew Risperdal could cause adolescent boys to grow female-like breasts, but failed to warn consumers or their doctors. The drug companies have already lost a handful of trials totaling about $75 million in verdicts, one of which was a $70 million verdict in favor of a Tennessee ... Read More

Phillips recalls faulty heart defibrillator / monitor


Phillips Healthcare is recalling the HeartStart MRx Monitor/Defibrillator used to pace slow heart beats or deliver lifesaving electrical shocks to people who suffer sudden cardiac arrest, because of an electrical issue that may prevent the device from operating properly. The issue affects 47,362 defibrillators, which were distributed nationwide from Feb. 12, 2004, to Nov. 4, 2016. The following model numbers are affected: M3535A (M3535ATZ) M3536A (M3536ATZ), M3536M, M3536MC, M3536M2, M3536M4, M3536M5, M3536M6, M3536M7, M3536M8, M3536M9. The device consists of electrodes that are attached to the patient and then connected to the device to help it analyze a patient’s heart rhythm. ... Read More

Doctors should educate patients about potential risks of dietary supplements

caffeine powder - photo by WILX news

News of a healthy 18-year-old Ohio student who died due to an acute cardiac arrhythmia from an unintended overdose of caffeine prompted the American Academy of Family Physicians to publish an editorial to address physicians’ safety concerns regarding dietary supplements. The student athlete had ingested a small amount of a powdered caffeine product to improve his athletic performance. What he didn’t realize is that caffeine powder is extremely potent. His one-teaspoon dose was the equivalent of 30 cups of strongly brewed coffee. The effects were detrimental to the boy’s health. He isn’t the only person to fall victim of this ... Read More

Female athletes more likely to suffer repeated concussions

U.S. Womens Soccer team - Wikipedia image

Collegiate athletes who have suffered a previous concussion were three times more likely to have another concussion compared to athletes who had never had one, according to a study conducted from researchers at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City. The study also found that female collegiate athletes were more likely than their male counterparts to have a concussion, both overall and in gender-comparable sports. Much of the concussion research has focused on male sports, such as football. Researchers set out to determine whether female athletes had similar risk with head injuries. Their analysis involved more than 1,000 athletes, ... Read More

Abandoned Hilcorp Well source of oil spill in Southern Mississippi River

oil spill, Hilcorp, Louisiana - image courtesy U.S. Coast Guard by Petty Officer 3rd Class Travis Magee

The U.S. Coast Guard, Hilcorp Energy, and a handful of oil remediation companies are working to contain a natural gas and oil spill on the lower Mississippi river near Venice, Louisiana. The oil spill, which as of Wednesday covered about eight square miles of water and wetlands, was first reported on the afternoon of Monday, March 20, from an abandoned wellhead owned by Hilcorp, a Houston-based oil and gas exploration and production company. Hilcorp told the U.S. Coast Guard’s National Response Center that it had secured the old wellhead at approximately 9:45 p.m. Tuesday night. First estimates reported the well released ... Read More

NJ Advances Bill To Make Public Whistleblower Cases More Transparent

whistleblower reward justice

Spurred by a confidential $1.5 million whistleblower settlement in a case involving alleged criminal wrongdoing by supporters of Governor Chris Christie, New Jersey state lawmakers are pushing legislation that would bring transparency to any future whistleblower settlements involving state, county, and town authorities. New Jersey’s Assembly Judiciary Committee unanimously approved the measure after a protracted legal battle that cost state taxpayers $5.3 million ended in October with a settlement that bars whistleblower Ben Barlyn from disclosing details. Mr. Barlyn, former Hunterdon County prosecutor, filed the whistleblower complaint alleging he was wrongfully fired in retaliation for calling out the state’s dismissal of ... Read More

Cancer benefits of birth control pill last 30 years, study says

Birth control pills

Researchers from the University of Aberdeen in the UK have just published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology the results of 44 years of follow up on 46,000 women who were classified as “ever” and “never” users of oral contraceptives. The purpose of the study was to assess the very long- term safety of these drugs, specifically cancer risks and benefits. “These results from the longest-running study in the world into oral contraceptive use are reassuring. Specifically, pill users don’t have an overall increased risk of cancer over their lifetime and that the protective effects of some specific ... Read More

Church Members Critically Injured in Pocatello, Idaho Church Boiler Room Blast


An Idaho couple was critically injured when the boiler room of a Pocatello, Idaho, church exploded Tuesday, March 21. The Pocatello Fire Department responded to the blast at the First Congregational United Church across the street from Pocatello High School around 2:15 p.m. to find the church severely damaged. Local authorities continue to investigate the cause of the blast, but said they believe there was an accumulation of natural gas in the boiler that was somehow ignited when the couple, a husband and wife, both members of the church, was performing volunteer maintenance work. Responders found the woman badly burned ... Read More