Health Updates 10 January 2012

  • FDA warns of opioid drug mix-up: “The FDA has issued a warning that pills,  tablets, or caplets of Percocet and eight other opioid products packaged by Novartis for Endo Pharmaceuticals may have been mixed up, with one drug packaged as another…The error is likely the result of improperly cleared packaging machinery, which may have caused the pills from one product to be carried over  into containers of another product…The odds of a patient being affected by the drug mix-up are low and no adverse event reports related to incorrect product dosing have been filed.  Patients should be wary of any pills that are different in size, shape, color or markings from their standard medication or are different from others in the container. Patients should return prescriptions that contain mixed drugs to their pharmacy.” (Cole Petrochko, MedPage Today)
  • Childhood: Exercise yields dividends in the classroom: Physical exercise in children improves not only cardiovascular health but also academic performance, an analysis of several studies has found….Nine studies compared students based on participation in gym classes or organized sports, rather than on measurements of physical activity.  These produced inconsistent conclusions.  But all three of the studies that measured time spent in physical activity found it associated with academic performance, and the two highest in methodological quality confirmed a positive relationship between physical activity and school achievement.  The reasons for the connection are unknown, but the researchers suggest that exercise increases the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain and may lead to increased levels of norepinephrine and endorphins, important in stress reduction.” (Nicholas Bakalar, NY Times)
  • Growth in health spending nears record-low rate: “Healthcare spending grew slowly in 2010 – at a rate of 3.9% – in part because high unemployment and reduced household income led people to scrimp on doctors’ visits and medications, new data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) show….The report cited the lingering effects of economic recession as the reason spending on things like hospitals, prescription drugs and doctors’ visits grew more slowly than usual.” (Emily P. Walker, MedPage Today)
  • New clues revealed in studies of stillbirth: “In two new studies, researchers have pinpointed the most common causes of stillbirths and have found that known risk factors explain just a small minority of cases.   According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 26,000 fetal deaths at 20 weeks’ gestation or later occur annually in the United States, a rate higher than in many other developed countries.  The reasons are unclear.”  Many factors contribute, including age over 40, AB blood type, hypertension, diabetes and previous stillbirth, but many questions remain.  It should be noted, however, that while much more work needs to be done, most pregnancies result in healthy live births.  (NY Times)

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