- Twins' Deaths Not Caused by Overdose: Hospital
- Fewer Inhaling Second-Hand Smoke: CDC
- Drug Reps to Stop Doling Gifts to Doctors
- AMA Formally Apologizes for Policies Against Blacks
- FDA Making Drug 'Non-Approval' Letters Easier to Swallow
- Controlled Drugs Easily Obtained Online Without Prescription
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of HealthDay:
Twins' Deaths Not Caused by Overdose: Hospital
Two newborn twins who died at a Texas hospital after receiving an overdose of the blood thinner heparin did not appear to die as a direct result of the mishap, according to a spokesperson for Christus Spohn Hospital South in Corpus Christi cited by the Associated Press.
The hospital said it found no direct link between the deaths of twins Keith and Kaylynn Garcia and the overdose of heparin, which was used to flush intravenous lines used by the newborns. As many as 17 infants in the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit, including the Garcias, may have received the overdose. The mishap has been blamed on a mixing error by hospital pharmacists.
Keith Garcia, who died Tuesday, died of a blood infection called sepsis and from complications of being born premature, the AP said, citing a local newspaper report. A cause of death for the other twin, who died a day later, was not immediately revealed.
The infants' parents have received a judge's order that prevents the hospital from destroying any of the babies' records or accounts of the heparin overdose, the wire service said.
Fewer Inhaling Second-Hand Smoke: CDC
Fewer nonsmokers are inhaling second-hand smoke than in years past, thanks to recent laws that prohibit smoking in offices, bars, restaurants and other public places, a study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concludes.
A decline in the number of adult smokers to slightly below 20 percent also is a factor, the Associated Press said, citing the study's conclusions.
Some 46 percent of nonsmokers had evidence of measurable blood nicotine levels between 1999 and 2004, compared with 84 percent of nonsmokers sampled in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Exposure to second-hand smoke can increase a nonsmoker's lung cancer risk by at least 20 percent and the risk of heart disease by at least 25 percent, the wire service said.
Despite the decline, study co-author Cinzia Marano said the numbers were still too high. "There is no safe level of exposure," Marano told the AP.
Drug Reps to Stop Doling Gifts to Doctors
Those free pens, note pads and coffee mugs emblazoned with drug company logos that adorn many physician offices may soon be a thing of the past.
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PRMA) says its new guidelines ban such gifts to doctors from drug company sales reps, the Associated Press reported. Also on the critical list are free trips to restaurants and other forms of entertainment and recreation.
An occasional quick bite in the doctor's office is still allowed, however.
"I don't think you'll find a physician who will acknowledge that the gift of a pen or a cup with a company's name on it influences their prescribing patterns," the wire service quotes PRMA CEO Billy Tauzin as saying. "But there are people who believe that, and as long as that's a perception out there, we felt we ought to end that."
The new guidelines take effect Jan. 1.
AMA Formally Apologizes for Policies Against Blacks
The American Medical Association issued a formal apology Thursday night for its discriminatory policies that prevented blacks from joining the physicians' group for more than a century, the Associated Press reported.
In a statement on its Web site, the association said it was sorry "for its past history of racial inequality toward African-American physicians and shares its current efforts to increase the ranks of minority physicians and their participation in the AMA."
The action came more than four decades after delegates first condemned racist policies at state and local chapters dating back to the 1800s, the wire service said.