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Life slowly returns to normal for SJS survivor, SpunkyRachel

Rachel, known as SpunkyRachel online, says she was caught off guard by friends – both old and new – who had seen her videos on YouTube. She had posted several of them these past few months – some with her bald head uncovered and her dark skin blotched with white patches. Rachel was looking for others like her – people who had taken common medication, like ibuprofen from the super market, and had a severe adverse reaction called Stevens Johnson Syndrome (SJS) or its most severe form toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN). She shared her struggle in the videos and in ... Read More

Celgene issues letter warning of limited use of heparin drug

Just weeks after the FDA requested revised labeling for the low molecular weight heparin, Innohep, the FDA announced that its maker Celgene Corporation has issued a “Dear Healthcare Professional” letter describing a controlled clinical study that suggests an increased risk of death in elderly patients who received Innohep. Innohep contains tinzaparin sodium that is given to patients in conjunction with warfarin sodium intravenously to treat blood clots that have occurred deep in the veins of hospitalized patients who may or may not have also experienced the occurrence of blood clots in their lungs (pulmonary embolism). In early December, the FDA ... Read More

Nursing home sued for wrongful death of man with dementia

Dean Cole’s dementia was getting unmanageable for his wife, Virginia, so on Dec. 8, 2006, his family moved him into Golden Living Center Greeley nursing home in Oakdale, Minn. Within 20 days he had lost 20 pounds and had slipped into a coma. A month later, the 71-year-old man was dead, according to the Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn. Star Tribune. The cause? Severe dehydration, renal failure, pneumonia and colitis. Last week, Cole’s family filed a federal wrongful-death lawsuit against the nursing home seeking more than $75,000 in damages. Cole’s wife visited her husband daily and, noticing his weight loss, questioned nursing ... Read More

Heparin scandal makes 2008 top 10 lists

The tainted heparin scandal was listed as the No. 1 story in the Chicago Tribune’s “The Top 10 local business stories of 2008.” Early in 2008, more than 80 Americans died and hundreds more were sickened after receiving injections of heparin. An investigation found that batches of heparin manufactured in Baxter International’s China facility had been tainted with a contaminant that caused severe allergic reactions in patients who received the doses. As a result, lots of heparin manufactured by Baxter International were recalled. The Chicago Tribune story says both the FDA and Baxter International believe the heparin was “intentionally adulterated ... Read More

Scleral lenses gives sight to man blinded by SJS

In 1996, Joe Zienowicz suffered from tennis elbow. An avid athlete, he sought help from his doctor, who prescribed an anti-inflammatory drug. The medication nearly killed him. He was struck by Stevens Johnson Syndrome (SJS), an adverse reaction to common medication in which skin peels off in sheets. It also can affect mucus membranes, blistering the mouth and eyes. Joe’s corneas were severely damaged, and he was permanently blinded. For a year Joe lived in the dark, lying in the dark of his home, unable to even see the face of his wife. That, he said, is what he most ... Read More

‘Abuse-for-thrills’ case top 2008 news story in Albert Lea

The physical and sexual “abuse-for-thrills” case at Good Samaritan Society nursing home in Albert Lea, Minn., was listed as “far and away the leading news story in the Albert Lea area for 2008,” by the Albert Lea Tribune. The story first broke in May with reports that investigators were looking into allegations of abuse at the nursing home. By August, the details began to be revealed. An employee at the nursing home told facility authorities that she was aware that other aides in the home were holding down residents, putting their fingers in residents’ mouths and noses to quiet their ... Read More

Diabetic questions safety of insulin in light of heparin scandal

Meet Allie Beaty. As a diabetic, her life depends on insulin. She wants to make a difference for others like her, make “the world safer for people with diabetes,” she says on her Web page, So Allie established a diabetes think group and shares ”Love Diabetes” videos on YouTube to push her mission. Allie recently posted a video on YouTube in light of the heparin scandal, asking “Is my insulin tainted?” Last year, more than 80 Americans died and hundreds more were sickened after receiving doses of the blood thinner heparin. An investigation found that batches of heparin manufactured ... Read More

Family raises funds for children’s hospice after son dies from SJS

Sometimes we forget how lucky we are. Today I read the story of Joe Way of England. He was born just two and a half months before my son, on September 5, 2003. Though an ocean apart, he was not unlike my son. He was born healthy to a loving family. But at a week old, he contracted meningitis and eventually was diagnosed with Angelmans syndrome, a neuro-genetic disorder that can cause developmental delays, seizures and jerky movements. It is so named because those who suffer from the condition appear to have a happy, joyful demeanor. In order to control ... Read More

Consumer groups, institute team up to urge FDA reform

The National Academies of Sciences Institute of Medicine, the Consumer Federation of America and the Center for Science in the Public Interest have joined together to urge the incoming Obama administration to address food safety issues that have plagued the FDA in the past few years. However, the Institute of Medicine and the consumer groups disagree on the legalities, according to Flesh and Stone. According to the report, the Institute of Medicine issued a statement recommending the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service and the food safety activities of the FDA within HHS should be unified. The consumer groups argue ... Read More

Singer’s son diagnosed with rare disease similar to SJS

Last week, after weeks of alarming medical symptoms, Backstreet Boys band member Brian Littrell finally has a diagnosis for his ailing 6-year-old son Baylee – Kawasaki Disease, according to the singer’s Web page. Kawasaki Disease, or KD, is a serious illness that involves the skin, mouth and lymph nodes. If symptoms are recognized early, a full recovery can be expected. If left untreated, it can cause serious heart complications. Before being admitted to the hospital, Baylee was thought to be suffering from a combination of strep throat; hand, foot and mouth disease; and erythema multiforme (EM). EM is an acute, ... Read More