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VA 59 articles

St. Louis VA Hospital Says Dental Work May Have Exposed Vets to HIV, Hepatitis

Hundreds of veterans who received dental treatment at a St. Louis VA hospital in recent months received an unsettling letter from hospital officials informing them they may have been exposed to life-threatening diseases, including HIV and hepatitis. John Cochran VA Medical Center sent the letters to 1,812 veterans, telling them that the dental equipment “may not have been cleaned correctly,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. As a result, dental procedures could have put the veterans at risk of hepatitis A, hepatitis C, and HIV. The letter advises veterans to visit a VA hospital for free blood testing to screen for ... Read More

VA to improve and expand mental health and suicide prevention resources

As U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan winds down, efforts to treat massive numbers of veterans for mental health issues is picking up. Military veterans will soon have better access to mental health services and suicide prevention efforts under a new plan aimed at expanding and improving several Veterans Administration (VA) programs. An executive order signed by President Obama Friday directs the Department of Veterans Affairs to make sure any veterans expressing suicidal thoughts are seen by a mental health professional within 24 hours. Although that standard already exists at the VA, the agency often fails to meet the goal, ... Read More

Prescription drug cocktails could be killing our combat veterans

Imagine dutifully serving and surviving your combat tours in the Middle East, only to return home and be killed by a prescription drug. That is apparently what is happening to hundreds of young military veterans coming back to the U.S. from Afghanistan and Iraq with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) who are being treated with a cocktail of anti-psychotics, anti-depressants, sleeping pills, and other prescription drugs. Stan and Shirley White of Charleston, West Virginia, were coping with the grief of losing their son Bob, a Fort Bragg paratrooper, in Afghanistan, when their other son Andrew, who had returned home from combat ... Read More

Army now awards Purple Heart for all combat-related concussions

The Army now considers combat-related concussions injuries worthy of the Purple Heart medal, underscoring the gravity of a wound that has been overlooked or dismissed as harmless for decades. The Army’s move to recognize all concussions as serious combat wounds comes at a time when the medical community is making strides in its understanding of concussions and other forms of traumatic brain injury (TBI). The sheer number of American soldiers receiving some degree of head trauma has made TBI the “signature wound” of the wars in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Up until now, the Army left it up to ... Read More

FDA monitoring Chantix for serious risks, new safety concerns

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration released a list of about 20 pharmaceutical drugs that the agency’s researchers are closely monitoring for potential safety concerns. Not surprisingly, Chantix (Varenicline) claimed a spot on the list. According to the FDA, the drug is being watched to determine whether it causes or contributes to angiodema (rapid and potentially life-threatening swelling of skin and tissue), other serious skin reactions, visual impairment, and accidental injury. Data pulled from the FDA’s Adverse Event Reporting System (AERS) between October and December of 2008 suggested that Chantix may be linked to the side effects. The FDA ... Read More

FDA clears Baxter in deaths following heparin injections

Baxter Healthcare Corp. has been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the deaths of two patients at a Delaware hospital following an injection of the drug maker’s blood thinner heparin. The FDA attributed the two deaths, and the illness of a third patent, to existing medical conditions. All three patients suffered intercranial bleeding following injections of heparin. Announcement of the deaths and illness at Beebe Medical Center in Lewes, Delaware, raised immediate concern at the hospital, which promptly notified the FDA and Baxter. The incidents were far too similar to the 2007 heparin scandal in which more ... Read More

Obama's pick for FDA commissioner wants to restore trust in agency

President Barack Obama’s top pick for Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner, Bioterrorsim expert and former New York City health commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg, says that she wants to restore public confidence in the FDA, according to Boston.com. She already has Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s support. “Her expertise is valuable for problems we now face, such as combating food-borne illness, cooperating with other agencies to address the new flu outbreak and drug-resistant diseases, and protecting our food and drug supplies,” Sen. Kennedy said in a statement for the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing. If confirmed, one of Dr. ... Read More

FDA approval for marketing generic Lovenox expected

The expiration of exclusivity period for Sanofi Aventis’ blood thinner Lovenox has expired, moving Momenta Pharmaceutical Inc. one step closer to gaining approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to manufacture and market is generic Lovenox, M-Enoxaparin, according to Momenta’s first quarter 2009 Earnings Call. Anticoagulants are often administered to patients before undergoing some surgeries and medical procedures to reduce the risk of life-threatening blood clots. Lovenox has been touted as an effective replacement for the blood thinner heparin in patients undergoing abdominal surgery. Heparin carries a laundry list of side effects such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea ... Read More

Pfizer might fund study of Chantix and reduced risk of heart attack

CNN reports that Pfizer is thinking about launching a clinical test to determine if Chantix can help prevent smokers from having heart attacks. Considering all the negative publicity that has surrounded the drug over the last one and a half years, it’s understandable that Pfizer would want to invest a good deal of time and money in finding some benefit … even if they locate just one slightly dubious side effect, such as a reduced risk of heart attack in people who have quit smoking. Such a finding would steer attention away from the host of negative side effects that Chantix ... Read More

Pfizer and other drug companies fund medical courses

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recently published a comprehensive report that exposes a very questionable relationship between the University of Wisconsin-Madison college of medicine and the drug industry. Using the University of Wisconsin-Madison as an example, the report describes how pharmaceutical companies have infiltrated the nation’s universities by funding physician education courses. Critics argue that the arrangement is unethical; when a college accepts hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in funds for such classes, the patrons expect something back. So what might appear superficially as a philanthropic gesture is actually an arrangement with lots of strings attached — an ... Read More