Saturday, June 27, 2009

Health Headlines - June 27

Nestle Refused to Give Cookie Dough Records to FDA: Report

Nestle USA refused several times to provide federal government inspectors with pest-control records, complaint logs and other information related to the Virginia plant where recalled cookie dough was made, according to a published report.

The refusals were noted in inspection reports from the factory, the Associated Press reported. A Food and Drug Administration spokesperson said Nestle USA wasn't obligated to allow inspectors access to the records, which date back to 2004.

Last week, the company voluntarily recalled all Toll House refrigerated cookie dough products made at the Virginia plant. The recall came after the FDA said it believed people eating the dough raw may have been exposed to E. coli bacteria.

So far, there have been 69 reported cases of illness in 29 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the AP said.


New York State Will Buy Women's Eggs for Stem Cell Research

New York's decision to become the first state to allow taxpayer-funded scientists to pay women for eggs to be used in embryonic stem cell research is being greeted with both praise and criticism.

Women who donate eggs will receive up to $10,000 for the time, discomfort and expenses associated with the procedure, the Washington Post reported. The new policy conflicts with guidelines issued by scientific organizations, including the National Academy of Sciences, the newspaper said.

Supporters of the decision say it will help advance stem cell research.

"This is a really great, appropriate policy," Susan Solomon, co-founder of the New York Stem Cell Foundation, a private, nonprofit research organization, told the Post. "This could help us to pursue some critical experiments that we hope will lead to treatments for devastating diseases."

But critics fear New York's policy will result in the exploitation of vulnerable women.

"In a field that's already the object of a great deal of controversy, the question is, are we at the point where we really need to go that route in order to do the science?" Jonathan D. Moreno, a professor of bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, told the Post. "I'm not convinced."


European Regulator Wants Painkiller Off Market

The painkiller dextropropoxyphene should be withdrawn from the European market because patients using the 50-year-old drug have been dying from overdoses, says the European Medicines Agency (EMEA).

The drug is still on the market in the United States, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is considering whether to withdraw it, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Dextropropoxyphene, which is called propoxyphene in the United States, is an opioid widely used to treat mild to moderate pain. It was first introduced in the United States in 1957 under the brand name Darvon and is marketed today by a wide number of generic drug makers. Opponents of the drug have tried for years to get it taken off the market, the newspaper said.

According to the EMEA, a "significant" number of Europeans have died from accidental or intentional overdoses of the drug, but it didn't provide an actual number, the Journal reported.


E. coli Scare Spurs Big Beef Recall

Fears of contamination with the e. coli bacteria has prompted JBS Swift Co., of Greeley, Colo., to recall about 41,000 pounds of beef products, the Associated Press reported Thursday.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the products were processed on April 21-22 and sent to distributors and retailers in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin.

The recalled beef is packed in boxes marked "EST. 969" with packaging date codes of 042109 or 042209. They have case codes of 21852, 21853, 31852, 31853, 33852, 33853, 41853, 79852, 79853 or 90853.

Consumers who have questions regarding the recall should call JBS Swift at (800) 555-7675.

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