July 10th, 2012
11:22 AM ET
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."
June 19th, 2012
07:11 AM ET
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:
June 14th, 2012
08:05 PM ET
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.
June 1st, 2012
12:15 PM ET
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.
May 17th, 2012
09:32 AM ET
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.
April 25th, 2012
10:02 AM ET
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.
April 19th, 2012
06:50 PM ET
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.”
March 6th, 2012
04:59 PM ET
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.
February 21st, 2012
01:35 PM ET
In response to President Obama's executive order to help prevent future drug shortages, the Food and Drug Administration Tuesday announced a series of steps to increase the supply of two critically needed cancer drugs: Methotrexate, a drug used to treat children with leukemia and some adult cancers, and Doxil, used to treat numerous forms of cancer from lung to ovarian. Doxil is also used in AIDS-related Kaposi's sarcoma and multiple myeloma.
"Through the collaborative work of FDA, industry, and other stakeholders, patients and families waiting for these products or anxious about their availability should now be able to get the medication they need," said FDA Commissioner, Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg.
January 31st, 2012
09:18 AM ET
Adults with metastatic basal cell cancer now have a new drug to help them battle the disease.
The Food and Drug Administration has approved Erivedge under the agency's priority review program. The program provides an expedited six-month review process for drugs that may result in major treatment advances.
Erivedge is for patients with advanced basal cell carcinoma who are not candidates for radiation or surgery, or for those whose cancer has spread. BCC is the most common form of skin cancer in the country. It grows slowly and is generally curable.
About this blog
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.