- FDA Sets Acceptable Melamine Threshold for Infant Formula
- Federal Trade Commission Discontinues Tar and Nicotine Test
- FDA Announces Recalls of Weight-Loss Pill, Dietary Supplement
- Web Health Searches Often Result in 'Cyberchondria'
- Epilepsy Drugs May Cause Skin Reactions in Asians: FDA
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of HealthDay:
FDA Sets Acceptable Melamine Threshold for Infant Formula
Reversing a decision made less than two months earlier, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Friday announced an allowable threshold of 1 part per million of the chemical melamine in baby formula, the Associated Press reports.
The wire service reports that the FDA's decision actually allows for more melamine than has been found in U.S.-made baby formula. The one caveat is that this amount is allowable only if other related chemicals aren't present, the A.P. reports.
And, as it did Nov. 26, the FDA reiterated that the baby formulas that were tested are absolutely safe.
Consumers Union, the national consumer advocacy group, and the Illinois attorney general, Lisa Madigan, had demanded that the FDA issue a recall of the products.
In China, melamine in formula has killed at least three babies and made at least 50,000 ill. The chemical, used in the production of plastic products, can cause kidney or bladder stones and, in severe cases, kidney failure. There have been no reports of illnesses in the United States.
Previously undisclosed FDA tests showed the agency detected melamine in a sample of one popular infant formula and the presence of cyanuric acid (a chemical relative of melamine) in another brand of formula, the A.P. said. A third manufacturer admitted it found trace levels of melamine in its infant formula. It's believed the melamine contamination occurred during the manufacturing process.
The three products are sold by Abbott Laboratories, Nestle and Mead Johnson, which produce more than 90 percent of all infant formula made in the United States, the news service said.
An FDA official said it would be a "dangerous overreaction" for American parents to stop feeding infant formula to babies who depend on it.
"The levels that we are detecting are extremely low," Dr. Stephen Sundlof, director of the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, told the AP. Parents "should not be changing the diet. If they've been feeding a particular product, they should continue to feed that product. That's in the best interest of the baby."
Federal Trade Commission Discontinues Tar and Nicotine Test
After 42 years, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission has ended a test to measure the amount of tar and nicotine in cigarettes.
According to the Associated Press, the FTC decided to discontinue the testing for two reasons: the test itself was flawed, and tobacco companies could use the results to promote one brand of cigarette over another.
The test was known as the Cambridge Filter Method, the A.P. reports, and on Nov. 26 the FTC commissioners voted unanimously to discontinue it. Saying that the FTC would no longer be a "smokescreen" for tobacco companies' marketing programs, Commissioner Jon Leibowitz told the wire service, "Our action today ensures that tobacco companies may not wrap their misleading tar and nicotine ratings in a cloak of government sponsorship."
Over the years, many cigarette advertisements had promoted low tar and nicotine levels in some brands, using the phrase, "by FTC method." Insofar as the testing itself was concerned, it had long been criticized by scientists because it never took into account how people smoked, such as how deeply they inhaled, the A.P. reports.
The National Cancer Institute acknowledged that the Cambridge Filter Method did measure changes in design and quantity of tar and nicotine, but there has never been any evidence that so-called light cigarettes reduced disease caused by smoking, the wire service reports.
FDA Announces Recalls of Weight-Loss Pill, Dietary Supplement
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Wednesday the recall of a weight-loss product -- Zhen De Shou Fat Loss Capsules -- and a dietary supplement -- Starcaps Diet System dietary supplements, according to published reports.