- FDA Head Promises Stronger Enforcement Of Food/Drug Safety
- Scientists Identify Itch-Transmitting Cells
- Ground Beef Recalled Over Salmonella Concerns
- Seasonal Flu Vaccines Shipped Early
- Clinton-Brokered Deal to Bring Low-Cost HIV Meds to Poorer Nations
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of HealthDay:
FDA Head Promises Stronger Enforcement Of Food/Drug Safety
Food and drug companies that commit safety violations will face faster and more aggressive action, the new commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Thursday.
"The agency must show industry and consumers that we are on the job," Margaret Hamburg told an audience of food and drug industry lawyers, the Associated Press reported. "Companies must have a realistic expectation that if they are crossing the line, they will be caught."
Hamburg said the FDA's efforts in recent years "have been hampered by unreasonable delays" that left many safety violations unpunished.
Since Hamburg was confirmed as commissioner in May, the agency has launched a number of enforcement actions against companies selling fake or dangerous products, the AP reported. This type of enforcement will become routine in the future, Hamburg said.
Scientists Identify Itch-Transmitting Cells
A group of cells in the spine that transmit itch messages to the brain have been identified by U.S. researchers, who said the findings may lead to better treatments for chronic itching.
When this group of cells was turned off in mice, it lessened their itchiness without reducing their ability to sense pain, the Associated Press reported.
The researchers at Washington University in St. Louis are the first to identify itch-transmitting cells in the spinal cord. The study appears in this week's issue of Science.
The results are "exciting" and "opens the field," itch specialist Dr. Gil Yosipovitch, of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, told the AP. He wasn't involved in the study.
Serious, chronic itching can be caused by conditions such as cancer, chronic kidney failure and the use of certain types of narcotic painkillers.
Ground Beef Recalled Over Salmonella Concerns
A California-based beef packing plant has recalled 825,769 pounds of ground beef products that may be contaminated with an antibiotic-resistant form of salmonella and may be linked to an outbreak of illness in Colorado, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Thursday.
The ground beef recalled by Fresno-based Beef Packers Inc., was sent to Colorado, Arizona and Utah, and sold in California, Dow Jones News reported.
The USDA said the Newport strain of salmonella that may be in the ground beef "is resistant to many commonly prescribed drugs, which can increase the risk of hospitalization or possible treatment failure in infected individuals."
The agency also noted that the "most common manifestations of salmonellosis are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within eight to 72 hours," Dow Jones reported.
Seasonal Flu Vaccines Shipped Early
Concerns about the swine flu pandemic have led vaccine makers to start shipping seasonal flu vaccines to the U.S. market much earlier than normal.
GlaxoSmithKline PLC and Novartis AG both started shipping seasonal flu vaccines Wednesday, while Sanofi Pasteur started on July 27, the Associated Press reported.
Novartis is "weeks ahead of schedule," Sanofi is about two weeks early, and Glaxo is slightly ahead of its usual mid-August start.
The companies said they expect concerns about swine flu will lead to increased demand of seasonal flu vaccines this year. They also want to complete production of seasonal vaccines to ensure capacity to make swine flu vaccine, the AP reported.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization said Thursday that vaccine manufacturers are on track to start delivering the first batches of swine flu vaccine in September.
According to AP,WHO vaccine director Marie-Paule Kieny said several drug makers have started testing the vaccine in humans and early safety results should be available next month. Those will clear the way for the vaccine's use.