- U.S. Halts Chelation Study Enrollment
- Tainted Food From China Found in Hong Kong
- Standardized Color Plan for Hospital Wristbands Faces Hurdles
- Health Insurance Premiums Rise 5%
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of HealthDay:
U.S. Halts Chelation Study Enrollment
The U.S. government has stopped enrolling participants in the largest alternative medicine study it's ever funded to assess whether candidates were properly informed of the potential risks, the Associated Press reported Friday.
More than 1,500 people who had survived a heart attack had been enrolled in the $30 million study of chelation, a controversial method most often used as a remedy for lead poisoning. Despite the halt to new enrollees, existing participants are still being treated.
The study is meant to test the use of high doses of vitamins, minerals, and chelation -- a therapy that involves injection of a drug (disodium EDTA) that proponents claim helps rid the body of calcium-causing plaque that's built up in artery walls. The therapy hasn't been proven safe or effective in treating heart disease.
At least two of the participants have died, although the study's lead physician denied the deaths were related to the therapy.
"We think we have a safe and ethical trial and we're protecting our patients," the AP quoted Dr. Gervasio Lamas of the University of Miami as saying.
Lamas couldn't say precisely how many study enrollees had died. He also conceded that some participating physicians who had been disciplined by state boards or who had criminal records had been asked to withdraw from the study, the wire service said.
Study critics said the research, approved in 2002, represented a conflict of interest for more than half of the physicians involved, since they made money by selling chelation treatments to patients, the AP reported.
Tainted Food From China Found in Hong Kong
The government of Hong Kong says it has detected traces of the plastics chemical melamine in baby foods imported from China, according to the Associated Press.
Melamine is at the center of a baby-formula scandal in China, in which at least four youngsters have died and more than 54,000 others have been sickened.
Baby food products that contain milk imported from China were banned Thursday by the European Union in response to the deaths of the four Chinese infants who ingested locally made tainted formula. The European Commission also called for tighter controls on other foods imported from China, the AP reported.
Melamine has been detected in products from 22 Chinese dairy firms, the AP reported. It's thought that suppliers used the chemical to mask the watering down of various milk products.
The practice may now be affecting animals, the wire service reported, as a lion cub and two baby orangutans have developed kidney stones at a zoo near Shanghai.
The World Health Organization and UNICEF issued a joint statement Thursday condemning baby-food makers that deliberately contaminate their products.
"Whilst any attempt to deceive the public in the area of food production and marketing is unacceptable, deliberate contamination of foods intended for consumption by vulnerable infants and young children is particularly deplorable," the statement read.
Standardized Color Plan for Hospital Wristbands Faces Hurdles
A new standardized system for color-coded wristbands in hospitals to prevent potentially dangerous mistakes is essential to patient safety, proponents say, but others fear they may compromise patient privacy, The New York Times reported.
The movement to standardize color coding of the hospital bands gathered steam, in part, because of a 2005 Pennsylvania case where a patient nearly died when a nurse mistakenly used an incorrect band. The plan is to have the wristbands designate patient conditions so treatment can be checked: Purple, or amethyst, means Do Not Resuscitate (D.N.R.); red, or ruby, indicates allergies; and yellow, or amber, identifies someone at risk for falling, according the Times.