Health Updates 4 May 2012

  • 2 Brothers accused of huge theft of prescription drugs“The largest theft of prescription drugs in United States history, as described by the authorities, was intricately orchestrated and meticulously executed.  There were several round-trip flights between New York and Miami.  There were leased tractor-trailers and upscale rental cars.  The tools used to drill a hole in a roof and disable part of a security system came from a Home Depot in Flushing, Queens.  The late-night operation lasted five hours, with the thieves descending into an Eli Lilly warehouse in Enfield, Conn., with ropes and using a forklift to make off with $80 million worth of drugs, which were loaded into a truck and eventually driven to Florida.  (Lilly placed the drugs’ value at over $70 million)….Despite all the planning, it came undone, apparently, when one of the men touched a water bottle in the warehouse and left it behind.  On Thursday, Amaury Villa, 37, and Amed Villa, 46, his brother, both Cuban citizens living in Miami who have extensive arrest records, were charged in connection with the March 2010 theft of drugs, including Zyprexa, Cymbalta, Prozac and Gemzar….The drugs’ uses included psychiatric and cancer treatment….at least 12 people were charged in several states in connection with a string of thefts of drugs, cigarettes and liquor in recent years.”  According to authorities, cargo theft in the pharmaceutical sector is on the rise.  The stolen drugs end up in stores, but they have usually been stored in unsafe conditions and seriously threaten the integrity of the drug supply chain. (NY Times)
  • Many US workers are sleep-deprived: “Many American workers get fewer than six hours of sleep each night, putting themselves and their co-workers at risk for serious and sometimes deadly consequences, federal health officials said Thursday.  ‘There are about 41 million workers who aren’t getting the recommended amount of sleep,’ said Dr. Sara Luckhaupt, lead author of a new study from the division of surveillance, hazard evaluations and field studies at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.  ‘Not surprisingly, workers who work the night shift are more likely to not get enough sleep,’ she said.  Also, people who work more than one job or more than 40 hours a week are likely to get too little sleep, Luckhaupt said.  The National Sleep Foundation recommended that adults sleep seven to nine hours a night….Workers who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to get injured on the job and make mistakes that could injure them and their co-workers, according to the report.  Over time, insufficient sleep can also affect overall health, resulting in cardiovascular problems, obesity, diabetes and depression.” (MedlinePlus)
  • Recognize the early signs of autism: “Symptoms of autism can be difficult to recognize in very young children, especially in mild cases or in instances when a child has other mental or physical conditions.  The US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke mentions these possible early symptoms of autism:
    • No pointing or babbling by age 1, or the absence of saying single words by age 16 months.
    • No response to calling the child’s name.
    • Lack of early social or language skills.
    • No eye contact with others.
    • Obsessive organizing or lining up of objects.
    • Not smiling. (HealthDay)
  • Obesity-linked diabetes in children resists treatment: “Obesity and the form of diabetes linked to it are taking an even worse toll on America’s youths than medical experts had realized.  As obesity rates in children have climbed, so has the incidence of Type 2 diabetes, and a new study adds another worry: the disease progresses more rapidly in children than in adults and is harder to treat.  ‘It’s frightening how severe this metabolic disease is in children,’ said Dr. David M. Nathan, an author of the study and director of the diabetes center at Massachusetts General Hospital.  ‘It’s really got a hold of them, and it’s hard to turn around’.  Before the 1990s, this form of diabetes was hardly ever seen in children.  It is still uncommon, but experts say any increase in such a serious disease is troubling.  There were about 3,600 new cases a year from 2002 to 2005, the latest years for which data is available.  The research is the first large study of Type 2 diabetes in children, ‘because this didn’t used to exist’, said Dr. Robin Goland, a member of the research team and co-director of the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center at Columbia University Medical Center in New York….Why the disease is so hard to control in children and teenagers is not known.  The researchers said that rapid growth and the intense hormonal changes at puberty might play a part.” (NY Times)


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