Health Highlights: Nov. 19, 2013

HealthDay SHARE
  • Bill Could Give FDA New Powers Over Compounding Pharmacies
  • NYC to Ban Tobacco Sales to People Younger Than 21
  • Study Charges FDA Was Silent on Amphetamine-Like Compound in Supplements
  • Positive Drug Tests Declining Among U.S. Workers
  • Medtronic Recalls Guidewires Used in Heart Procedures

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

Bill Could Give FDA New Powers Over Compounding Pharmacies

A bill to increase the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's control over compounding pharmacies was passed by Congress on Monday and experts say it will help improve drug safety.

The bill does not give the FDA complete authority over these pharmacies -- which tailor-mix drugs for individual patients -- but still provides significant safeguards and is supported by many public health advocates, according to The New York Times.

"It has very sharp teeth," drug safety consultant Sarah Sellers said of the bill, which is expected to be signed into law by President Barack Obama.

The bill began taking shape shortly after tainted injectable drugs from a compounding pharmacy in Massachusetts caused a meningitis outbreak that killed 64 people across the U.S. just over a year ago, The Times reported.

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NYC to Ban Tobacco Sales to People Younger Than 21

Legislation banning the sale of tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21 is to be signed Tuesday by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The new law would make New York the first large city or state in the country to ban tobacco sales to young adults. City health officials hope that raising the legal age to 21 will slash smoking rates among young people. Most smokers get addicted to cigarettes before age 21, the Associated Press reported.

The legislation also bans the sale of small cigars in packages of less than 20 and boosts penalties for retailers that violate sales regulations.

Also on Tuesday, Bloomberg was to sign legislation meant to keep the price of tobacco high by prohibiting coupons and other discounts, and by making the minimum price of cigarettes $10.50 a pack, the AP reported.

The increase in the minimum age for buying tobacco products will simply drive teenagers to the black market, according to tobacco companies and some retailers.

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Study Charges FDA Was Silent on Amphetamine-Like Compound in Supplements

U.S. government scientists found an amphetamine-like compound in nine dietary supplements but did not alert consumers, researchers say.

The Food and Drug Administration team tested 21 supposedly all-natural supplements and found that nine contained the compound beta-methylphenethylamine, according to an article in the Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis.

All 21 products list an ingredient called Acacia rigidula, which is a plant found in Texas and Mexico. The FDA scientists said they couldn't find the amphetamine-like compound in verified samples of the plant, and also said that the compound appears to have never been tested for safety on humans, USA Today reported.

The supplements tested were marketed for things such as mood stabilization, weight loss and boosting energy. FDA officials would not comment on the study or release the names of the supplements that were tested or the nine found to contain the compound.

"This is a brand new drug being placed into a number of supplements under the guise of a natural ingredient," Pieter Cohen, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, told USA Today.

He was part of another team of scientists who last month reported finding a methamphetamine-like compound in a pre-workout supplement called Craze. He's dismayed that the FDA hasn't issued public warnings about Craze or the nine supplements in the new study.

"The laws are incredibly weak, but the FDA is not moving as fast as it could to remove hazardous products," Cohen told USA Today.

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Positive Drug Tests Declining Among U.S. Workers

The percentage of American workers testing positive for cocaine and marijuana has declined sharply since 1988, but the use of prescription drugs appears to be a growing problem, according to a new study.