- Vioxx Study Was 'Stealth' Marketing: Report
- Bad Peppers a Problem Before Salmonella Outbreak: AP
- More 40-Something U.S. Women Are Childless
- Lower Drinking Age to 18: College Presidents
- 2 Deaths Reported Among Users of Byetta, a Diabetes Drug
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of HealthDay:
Vioxx Study Was 'Stealth' Marketing: Report
Stealth marketing was the main goal of a 1999 Vioxx study touted by Merck & Co. as proof that the painkiller caused fewer stomach problems than a less expensive painkiller called naproxen, according to a report published Tuesday in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.
The actual purpose of the ADVANTAGE study wasn't scientific, but rather to get doctors and patients in the habit of using Vioxx just in time for its launch, according to the report authors, who uncovered internal Merck documents, the Associated Press said.
The documents revealed that Merck's marketing division designed ADVANTAGE and handled the study's data collection and analysis, the news service said.
It's long been suspected that drug companies regularly do such marketing-oriented studies, but there's never been a "smoking gun" proving it, the report authors noted.
The Annals of Internal Medicine published the ADVANTAGE study in 2003 but was not told the true purpose of the study, according to an accompanying editorial co-authored by journal editior Dr. Harold C. Sox, the AP reported.
Vioxx was pulled from the market in 2004 after it was linked to cardiovascular problems.
Bad Peppers a Problem Before Salmonella Outbreak
In the months before a salmonella outbreak caused by Mexican chilies sickened 1,400 people in the United States this year, inspectors at U.S. border crossings repeatedly turned back shipments of unhealthy peppers, according to an Associated Press analysis of Food and Drug Administration documents.
Despite the repeated problems with Mexican peppers, no larger action was taken to protect American consumers, the news services said.
Since January, 88 shipments of fresh and dried chilies from Mexico were turned away by U.S. border inspectors. Ten percent of those shipments were contaminated with salmonella. Within the last year, eight percent of the 158 intercepted shipments of fresh and dried chilies from Mexico were contaminated with salmonella, the AP reported.
Food safety advocates want to know why the FDA didn't pay closer attention to the peppers being turned away at the border, and why the agency's screening of companies known for shipping dirty chilies only increased after the salmonella outbreak.
As recently as last week, FDA officials insisted they were surprised by the salmonella outbreak because Mexican peppers had not been spotted as a problem before the outbreak, the AP reported.
More 40-Something U.S. Women Are Childless
Fewer American women in their 40s have children, according to a Census Bureau study that examined data from a 2006 survey of 76 million women, ages 15 to 50. About 4.2 million of the women had had a child in the previous year.
The study found that in the last 30 years, the number of women ages 40 to 44 with no children has increased from 10 percent to 20 percent. Those who were mothers in 2006 had an average of 1.9 children each, more than one child fewer than women ages 40 to 44 had in 1976, the Associated Press reported.
In 2006, women with graduate or professional degrees had the most births of women in all educational levels. The study, Fertility of American Women: 2006, also found that about 36 percent of women who gave birth in the previous year were separated, divorced, widowed or unmarried.
While unemployed women had about twice as many babies as working women, those who had jobs accounted for 57 percent of recent births. Among women who had a child during the previous year, about one-quarter were living below the poverty line, the AP reported.
Lower Drinking Age to 18: College Presidents