Health Highlights: Dec. 10 2009

HealthDay SHARE
  • Label Error Prompts Recall of Alka-Seltzer Cold Capsules
  • Childhood Germ Exposure Offers Life-Long Protection: Study
  • Drug, Health Care Costs Increase for Americans 18 to 44
  • Senators Reach Deal on Health Bill Roadblock
  • Antipsychotic Drugs May Carry Weight Gain Warning: FDA
  • WHO Urges Stronger Action Against Smoking
  • FDA Lags on Recommended Drug Safety Changes: GAO

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Label Error Prompts Recall of Alka-Seltzer Cold Capsules

About 100,000 packages of Alka-Seltzer cold capsules have been recalled because of a labeling error, says Bayer Healthcare.

The company said about 4 percent of packages from a single lot of Alka-Seltzer Plus Day & Night Liquid Gels lack risk information about drowsiness, the Associated Press reported.

The recall is for packages from lot 296939L. Consumers who bought packages from this lot should stop using the product immediately and contact Bayer (800-986-3307) for a refund. Stores have been told to destroy products from the affected lot.

A Bayer spokeswoman said the labeling problem was caused by human error during the printing process, the AP reported.


Childhood Germ Exposure Offers Life-Long Protection: Study

A lack of exposure to germs in childhood could increase the risk of disease in adulthood, suggests a new study.

"Our research suggests that ultra-clean, ultra-hygienic environments early in life may contribute to higher levels of inflammation as an adult, which in turn increases risks for a wide range of diseases," including heart disease, said lead author Thomas McDade, of Northwestern University in Illinois, Agence France Presse reported.

He and his colleagues found that infants and toddlers in the Philippines had far more infectious diseases than those in the United States, but levels of C-reactive protein -- a marker of inflammation -- are at least 80 percent lower in Filipino adults than in American adults.

"CRP concentrations are incredibly low in Filipinos compared to people in the United States and that was counter to what a lot of people would have anticipated because we know that Filipinos have higher exposure to infectious diseases," McDade told AFP.

The study appears online in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society.


Drug, Health Care Costs Increase for Americans 18 to 44

Between 1996 and 2006, the average cost of a prescription drug for patients ages 18 to 44 doubled, from $79 to $161, according to a U.S. government report released Wednesday.

Prescription drugs now account for a much larger share of health care costs for this age group (10 percent in 1996, 18 percent in 2006), even though the proportion who purchased prescription drugs decreased from 60 percent to 54 percent over that period, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Among the other findings for Americans ages 18 to 44:

  • Total health cares expenses in 2006 were $231 billion, about $40 billion more than in 1996, after factoring in inflation.
  • A smaller proportion incurred health care expenses in 2006 (77 percent) than in 1996 (80.5 percent). However the average per person expense for people who had health expenses was much higher in 2006 ($2,703) than in 2006 ($2,177).
  • Major increases in per visit costs were noted for some areas, including visits to physicians offices ($119 to $180), hospital emergency rooms ($393 to $638) and dental care providers ($181 to $247).


Senators Reach Deal on Health Bill Roadblock

A group of Democratic senators has reached a "broad agreement" to resolve an impasse over a proposed government-run health insurance plan, Senate majority leader Harry Reid said Tuesday.

The dispute over a government-run plan has been seen as a major threat to passage of health care reform legislation, which has been on the Senate floor for nine days, The New York Times reported.

The tentative agreement would allow people ages 55 to 64 to "buy in" to Medicare, and a federal agency would negotiate with insurers to offer national health benefit plans similar to those offered to federal employees, The Times reported.