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Former NECC pharmacist arrested on criminal charges stemming from fungal meningitis outbreak

A man was arrested last week as part of an ongoing investigation into the deadly fungal meningitis outbreak linked to a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy by the Justice Department’s Civil Division and U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts. Glenn Adam Chin was attempting to board a plane to Hong Kong when federal authorities arrested him on one count of mail fraud. According to the Department of Justice, the maximum sentence under the statute is 20 years in prison followed by three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine. The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection ... Read More

British Columbia refuses to cover some type 2 diabetes drugs

The British Columbia Medical Beneficiary and Pharmaceutical Services Division has delisted all sitagliptin drugs, including Januvia and Janumet, from its Pharmacare Benefits Program and will adjust its coverage of all other diabetes drugs in the class by February 2015. The agencies gave no reason for this action but experts speculate that it may be because sitagliptin has been linked to serious pancreatic side effects. Merck, maker of Januvia and Janumet, is fighting the action, saying the move limits therapeutic options for patients. Januvia works by enhancing the body’s own ability to control blood sugar levels by increasing insulin production when ... Read More

Insulin therapy may help prevent acute pancreatitis

Acute pancreatitis affects about 20,000 people every year and results in 1,000 deaths. It can also increase the risk for pancreatic cancer, one of the most deadly forms of the disease. Yet, there is no immediate cure for the painful and debilitating condition and treatment is restricted to intravenous fluid and nutritional support. But a team of researchers from the Faculty of Life Sciences say that insulin could possibly help ease the symptoms of acute pancreatitis. Pancreatitis is a condition in which the pancreas essentially digests itself, causing severe abdominal pain, vomiting and systemic inflammation. The major cause of pancreatitis includes ... Read More

Dialysis solutions recalled due to potential contamination

Baxter International is recalling two lots of Dianeal Low Calcium Peritoneal Dialysis Solution with 2.5 percent Dextrose 5000mL (Ambu-Flex II) because oxidized stainless steel, garment fiber and PVC particulate matter was present during the manufacturing process and seen floating in the solution. If the particulate within the solution is injected into patients it could cause local inflammation with foreign body reaction or result in adhesion formation. The matter could also potentially serve as a focal point for infection should any existing pre-existing peritonitis exist, which could be deadly to patients receiving the solution. The product labeling advises health care providers ... Read More

RegenESlim appetite control capsules recalled due presence of dangerous ingredient

Certain lots of RegenESlim appetite control dietary supplements are being recalled because they contain an ingredient that may cause deadly side effects. A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) analysis found in two lots of RegenESlim the presence of DMAA, also known as 1,3-dimethylamylamine, methylhexanamine, or geranium extract, commonly used as a stimulant, pre-workout, and weight loss ingredient in supplements. The agency has warned that DMAA is potentially dangerous to health as it can narrow blood vessels and arteries, which can cause a rise in blood pressure or other cardiovascular problems such as shortness of breath, arrhythmias, tightening in the chest, ... Read More

Researchers aim to understand the potential harm in nanoparticles

When a mineral is broken down into smaller and smaller particles, or nanoparticles, its biological makeup can be affected, turning a seemingly harmless mineral into a potential lethal threat. Understanding which minerals’ nanoparticles pose risks is the work of a group of researchers at Northwest Nazarene University. Chemistry professor Jerry Harris refers to the book, “Asbestos: Silk of the Mineral Kingdom,” which was published in 1946 and touted the benefits of abestos. Asbestos became widely used in the United States throughout the 20th century as insulation because of its affordability and sound absorption. What researchers didn’t learn until decades later ... Read More

Jury selection begins for trial of employees of peanut processing plant at center of deadly Salmonella outbreak

Jury selection is underway for the trial of three people, employees and associates with a peanut processing plant blamed for the deadliest Salmonella outbreak in U.S. history, which killed nine people and sickened more than 700 in 2009. Former Peanut Company of America owner Stewart Parnell, his brother and food broker Michael Parnell, and the peanut plant’s quality control manager Mary Wilkerson were indicted last year on 76 criminal counts that allege the three shipped peanuts contaminated with Salmonella to industrial food customers – including nursing homes, schools and food suppliers – and covered up lab tests that showed some batches ... Read More

Testosterone therapy prescribed generously despite potentially dangerous side effects

The number of prescriptions for testosterone replacement therapy for men 40 years of age and older has risen 300 percent between 2001 and 2011, and a quarter of the most recent testosterone therapy users have never had their blood levels checked to determine if the need the medication, according to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine. The research was spearheaded by Jacques Baillargeon, an epidemiologist at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, who wondered if the increase in advertising for testosterone treatments was resulting in an increase in prescriptions for the drugs. The ads offered relief from ... Read More

Compounding pharmacy agrees to pay $100 million to victims of fungal meningitis outbreak

The compounding pharmacy that manufactured contaminated steroid shots that caused the 2012 multi-state fungal meningitis outbreak sickening at least 750 people and killing 64 has agreed to pay more than $100 million to settle claims from victims and their surviving family members. However, when and how the money will be distributed to those infected in the outbreak is still yet to be determined. About 18,000 contaminated steroid shots manufactured by New England Compounding Center (NECC) were distributed to medical facilities in 23 states. An estimated 14,000 people received the tainted shots, which were used to treat back, neck and joint ... Read More

Study: Men taking ED drug Viagra are at high risk for developing melanoma skin cancer

The erectile dysfunction drug Viagra may increase the risk of developing melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, according to a preliminary study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine. Researchers from several medical universities analyzed data from nearly 26,000 men, six percent of whom had taken Viagra, also known as sildenafil. The men who had used Viagra at some point in their lives had about double the risk of developing melanoma compared to men who had never used the drug. Men who were currently taking the medication were at an 84 percent greater risk of developing the disease. Since 1998, ... Read More