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FDA warns of dangerous dietary supplements
Reumofan Plus and Reumofan Plus Premium are used to treat conditions including arthritis, osteoporosis and muscle pain.
August 22nd, 2012
10:14 AM ET

FDA warns of dangerous dietary supplements

The Food and Drug Administration has received dozens of reports about harmful side effects - including stroke and death - linked to two dietary supplements currently on the market, Reumofan Plus and Reumofan Plus Premium.

The agency has issued a safety alert to warn consumers about the dangers of the supplements. They are both marketed as natural dietary supplements but the FDA claims they have potentially dangerous active ingredients that aren't listed on their labels. The supplements are used to treat arthritis, osteoporosis, muscle pain, bone cancer and a host of other ailments.

They are manufactured in Mexico by Riger Naturals, but sold in the United States in some stores, Internet sites and flea markets. Most are labeled in Spanish but there could be versions with English labels.

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BPA ban in baby bottles and sippy cups official
July 17th, 2012
05:32 PM ET

BPA ban in baby bottles and sippy cups official

The chemical bisphenol-A, or BPA has been officially banned from use in certain baby products, the US Food and Drug Administration announced today.

"FDA is amending the food additive regulations to no longer allow BPA in the plastic used to make baby bottles and sippy cups," said Curtis Allen, an FDA spokesman. "As a result, consumers can be confident that these products do not contain BPA. "

The move came as a result of a petition filed by the American Chemistry Council – an organization that represents “companies engaged in the business of chemistry” –- including plastic companies - saying the government should ban its use in these specific products.

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FDA announces new safety plan for opioid use
July 10th, 2012
11:22 AM ET

FDA announces new safety plan for opioid use

The Food and Drug Administration has announced new safety measures for a class of opioid medication used to treat moderate to severe chronic pain.

Opioids are powerful - patients who suffer from chronic pain say the medications can do wonders. But if they fall into the wrong hands or are used for recreational purposes, these meds can cause serious harm, including overdose and death.

“Although many Americans don’t realize it, prescription drug abuse is our swiftest growing drug problem. Many of those abuses involve opioids," said Dr. Margaret Hamburg, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. "In 2008, nearly 15,000 Americans died where opioids were involved. In 2009, that number went up to 16,000."
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Watch out for the 2012 'Dirty Dozen'
June 19th, 2012
07:11 AM ET

Watch out for the 2012 'Dirty Dozen'

Apples and celery are still agriculture’s dirtiest pieces of produce, according to the Environmental Working Group’s annual “Dirty Dozen” report. The report names the fruits and vegetables ranking highest in pesticide residue.

Cucumbers were added to the 2012 Dirty Dozen, while Kale and collard greens were moved from the list to join green beans in a new “Plus” category.

The category was created this year to highlight crops that did not meet traditional Dirty Dozen criteria but are still commonly contaminated with organophosphate insecticides, which are toxic to the nervous system.

Also included on the Dirty Dozen list are:
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FDA urges removal of Korean shellfish from stores
June 14th, 2012
08:05 PM ET

FDA urges removal of Korean shellfish from stores

Korean shellfish shipped to the United States may have been exposed to human feces and potentially contaminated with norovirus, the Food and Drug Administration warned distributors, retailers and other food service operators Thursday.

After evaluating Korea's shellfish sanitation program,  the FDA said it found significant deficiencies, including inadequate sanitary controls, ineffective management of land-based pollution sources and the presence of norovirus in shellfish growing areas.

The agency said all fresh, frozen, canned and processed oysters, clams, mussels and whole and roe-on scallops - known as molluscan shellfish - that entered the country from Korea should not be sold.

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FDA warns about benzocaine in baby pain gels
June 1st, 2012
12:15 PM ET

FDA warns about benzocaine in baby pain gels

When your baby begins to teethe and the pain is too much for you both to bear, your inclination is to reach for something to soothe those sore gums. But a new consumer update released by the Food and Drug Administration says babies and benzocaine–an ingredient found in many over the counter pain gels and liquids–don't mix.

Benzocaine is a local anesthetic that's in products like Anbesol, Orajel & Baby Orajel, Orabase and Hurricaine. The FDA says using benzocaine products to stop mouth and gum pain can cause a rare and sometimes fatal condition called methemoglobinemia. Methemoglobinemia is a blood disorder where the oxygen that's carried through the blood to the tissue drops to dangerously low levels. In severe cases it can cause death.

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USDA: Healthy food isn't really more expensive
May 17th, 2012
09:32 AM ET

USDA: Healthy food isn't really more expensive

We have many excuses for not eating healthy: I’m too busy. I don’t live near a grocery store. I can’t afford healthy food. I don’t know how to cook.

A new study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service is taking one of those excuses off the table.

Previous studies have shown that eating junk food is cheaper than eating healthy food. But Andrea Carlson, lead author for the USDA study, said the way those researchers measured cost-effectiveness skewed the results.

Carlson and her team analyzed 4,439 foods in three different ways – price per calories (as previous studies had done), price per edible gram and price per average portion. Retail prices were based on Nielsen Homescan data. The average portion was determined from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

The researchers found that when they used the price per calories analysis, fruits and vegetables appeared more expensive. “But this changes when you use other two,” Carlson said in a press call Wednesday.
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Mad cow disease: What you need to know
April 25th, 2012
10:02 AM ET

Mad cow disease: What you need to know

After Tuesday's announcement confirming a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), sometimes referred to as "mad cow disease," in a dairy cow in California, you may want a refresher course in mad cow basics.

It's important to keep in mind that U.S. health officials said the public risk posed by BSE is extremely low, and that residents don't need to take any specific precautions.

Here are the facts:

- BSE is a transmissible, degenerative and fatal disease affecting the central nervous system of adult cattle. The disease is of concern to public health officials because it can cause variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, or vCJD, a fatal brain disorder in humans.
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FDA warns of fentanyl patch dangers to children
April 19th, 2012
06:50 PM ET

FDA warns of fentanyl patch dangers to children

Children explore their worlds by touching and tasting items within their reach. That can cause deadly results when the object of their curiosity contains a potentially lethal drug like pain relieving fentanyl.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a consumer advisory Thursday, reminding parents, caregivers, and medical personnel of the deadly consequences posed to children from accidental contact with, or ingestion of fentanyl patches, which are marketed under the brand name Duragesic.

The patches are prescribed for patients experiencing constant pain - for example, cancer patients. They contain a strong synthetic opiate that relieves pain for three days. But when a child swallows a patch or applies it to his or her skin, the drug can slow breathing and result in death.

An advisory on the FDA website  says "Young children are at particular risk of accidental exposure to fentanyl patches. Their mobility and curiosity provide opportunities for them to find lost patches, take improperly discarded patches from the trash, or find improperly stored patches, all of which may result in patches being placed in their mouths or sticking to their skin.  Additionally, young children are at risk of exposure when being held by someone wearing a partially detached patch which can then transfer to the child. "

According to the FDA warning, there have been 26 incidents of accidental fentanyl exposure since 1997, resulting in ten deaths and 12 cases requiring hospitalization. Most of the cases involved children.

“This reinforces the need to talk to patients and their families," says Douglas Throckmorton, M.D., deputy director of FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, in a written statement, "to make sure that these patches are stored, used and disposed of carefully.”


Skin products tainted with mercury
March 6th, 2012
04:59 PM ET

Skin products tainted with mercury

The Food and Drug Administration is cautioning consumers that skin creams, beauty and antiseptic soaps and lotions contaminated with mercury have been found in at least 7 states.

The products are made abroad and sold in the United States as skin lighteners and anti-aging creams. According to Gary Coody, national health fraud coordinator in the FDA's Office of Regulatory Affairs, some of the products are being sold online as well as in Latino, African, Asian or Middle Eastern neighborhoods. They are touted as products that can remove age spots, freckles, wrinkles and other blemishes. Some may be used by teenagers for acne.

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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