Health Highlights: March 1, 2008
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of HealthDay:
Pills Reported Found in Recalled Frozen Fish
Gorton's frozen fish sold in 10 states is being recalled after unidentified pills were found in the product by a Pennsylvania family, the Associated Press reported.
The company ordered the precautionary recall of about 1,000 cases of the fish, as a laboratory worked to identify the pills. Results of the tests are expected early next week. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Pennsylvania authorities, and the company are investigating the incident.
A New Freedom, Pa., woman said she had bitten into one of the pills and her 9-year-old daughter found another pill in the fish, the wire service said. Neither person got sick, and both were checked out at a local hospital. The pills were described as beige and about the size of an aspirin.
The recall affects Gorton's 6 Crispy Battered Fish Fillets in 11.4-ounce packages. The UPC code is 44400157770, with a date code of 7289G1 and a best-if-used-by date of April 2009.
In addition to Pennsylvania, the fish also was distributed in: Alabama, Delaware, California, Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.
For more information, contact Gorton's at 800-896-9479.
FDA: Inhaler Capsules Mistakenly Being Swallowed
Some consumers prescribed respiratory inhalers that include capsules full of medicine are mistakenly swallowing the capsules instead of inhaling the contents, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned.
The Spiriva HandiHaler and the Foradil Aerolizer are prescribed to people with asthma and other chronic respiratory diseases, the Associated Press reported. The FDA said it has received several reports of people swallowing the capsules, which will do nothing to assist breathing. The only proper way to use the capsules is to inhale the contents with the inhalers.
The FDA "indicated that not many of the patients who swallowed the capsules reported side effects," the AP reported.
The Spiriva product is produced and co-marketed by Boehringer Ingelheim and Pfizer; the Foradil inhaler is made by Novartis and marketed in the United States by Schering-Plough.
Wyeth's New Antidepressant Gets FDA OK
Drug maker Wyeth has received U.S. government approval to replace its successful antidepressant Effexor XR (venlafaxine hydrochloride), which is facing patent expiration within the next two years with a different drug that the company says has some added advantages.
The New York Times reports that Wyeth received approval Feb. 29 from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to market Pristiq (desvenlafaxine succinate). Effexor XR's patent expires in 2010.
Wyeth maintains that Pristiq has some new features, the Times reports. First, patients will be able to begin treatment at the therapeutic dose level of 50 milligrams (mg). Usually, a patient starting out on an antidepressant has to take a lower dose for a few weeks before working up to the therapeutic dose.
Second, the drug doesn't have to be broken down by the liver, as its predecessor does, the newspaper reports. This eliminates problems of drug interactions, the Times quotes a Wyeth spokesperson as saying.
Effexor XR's 2007 sales were $3.8 billion, the newspaper said.
Walker's Four Bean Salad Recalled
Potential contamination with Clostridium botulinum bacteria has prompted a recall of 16-oz., 5-lb., and 10-lb. containers of Four Bean Salad made by Walker's Food Products Company of North Kansas City, Mo., the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday.
This kind of bacteria can cause botulism, a serious and potentially fatal kind of food poisoning. Symptoms include general weakness, dizziness, double vision, trouble speaking or swallowing, difficulty breathing, muscle weakness, abdominal distension and constipation. Anyone with such symptoms should seek immediate medical help, the FDA said.
No illnesses have been reported in connection with the recalled Four Bean Salad, which was sent to distributors in Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa for sale to retail stores and restaurants. The 16-oz. containers were packaged under the Kay's Gourmet brand name, while the 5-lb. and 10-lb. containers were packaged under the Walker's Food Products Co. brand name.
The recall includes salad with expiration dates 12/23/07 through 04/5/08. The expiration dates are stamped on the bottom of the round clear plastic containers.
Anyone who bought the recalled salad should return it to the place of purchase for a full refund. For more information, call Walker's Food Products at 1-800-725-2372.
Scientists Identify Gene That Blocks HIV
American and Canadian researchers have identified a human gene called TRIM22 that can block HIV infection by preventing certain forms of the virus from replicating, CBC News reported.
In laboratory tests, the scientists found that cells in which TRIM22 was switched off couldn't defend themselves against HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
"This means that TRIM22 is an essential part of our body's ability to fight off HIV," Dr. Stephen Barr, a researcher in the department of medical microbiology and immunology at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, said in a prepared statement.
The study was published in the Public Library of Science journal Pathogens. Previous research had found that other genes in the TRIM family could prevent certain forms of HIV viruses from replicating, CBC News reported.
Barr and his colleagues are now investigating how TRIM22 can be switched on in people who can't defend themselves against HIV.
"We hope that our research will lead to the design of new drugs and/or vaccines that can halt the person-to-person transmission of HIV and the spread of the virus in the body, thereby blocking the onset of AIDS," said Barr, who added that this type of achievement could take decades.
Alcohol Doesn't Erase Bad Memories
Alcohol doesn't help drown a person's sorrows, it actually makes bad memories linger, say researchers at the University of Tokyo in Japan.
After conducting tests on rats, the researchers concluded that ethanol -- an intoxicating agent in alcohol -- locks memories in place, Agence France-Presse reported.
The rats in the study were shocked in their cages and then injected with either ethanol or saline. Afterwards, the rats would immediately curl up in fear when put in their cages. This fear response lasted longer (an average of two weeks) in the rats that were injected with ethanol. The findings were published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.
"If we apply this study to humans, the memories they are trying to get rid of will remain strongly, even if they drink alcohol to try to forget an event they dislike and be in a merry mood for the moment," the study authors wrote. "The following day, they won't remember the merriness they felt."
Team leader and pharmacology professor Norio Matsuki said it's best to "overwrite" a negative memory with positive memory at an early stage and avoid drinking alcohol, AFP reported.
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