March 13, 2012
By Mike Barrett
“Thanks, FDA – for helping big pharma ruin more people’s lives. You are doing a great a job.” –KTRN
The same organization which deems walnuts to be illegal drugs is in the process of deciding whether or not to make some prescription medications more readily available to the public. The Food and Drug Administration may potentially move medicines for chronic conditions from prescription to non-prescription, or over the counter, while drugs for infection will receive a speedier approval process. This includes diabetes-linked statin drugs.
Despite prescription drugs contributing to at least 3 million deaths in the last 27 years while vitamins have killed none, the FDA is eager to get drugs in patients’ hands even faster. The House Energy and Commerce health subcommittee will assist the FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg and the Agency’s director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research by helping to accelerate approval processes. Drugs for high blood pressure, cholesterol, migraines, and asthma may all be re-classified by the FDA so that individuals can attain them without a prescription. Interestingly, cholesterol drugs, known as statins, have been linked to over 300 different adverse affects while asthma drugs have been shown to lead to more deaths than asthma itself.
The FDA is also very interested in allowing antibiotic makers to conduct tests for the drugs using smaller groups of patients. What’s more, lawmakers are proposing that the approval process for antibiotics also be hastened, while providing incentives to drug makers to develop new antibiotics – seemingly or allegedly to bypass bacterial resistance from the current antibiotic market. Unfortunately, even new antibiotics will only continue to perpetuate diseases scientists fear will be impossible to treat while contributing to numerous health conditions like mental illness by destroying gut health.
February 20, 2012
By Jeremy Laurence
Britain is facing a “massive” rise in antibiotic-resistant blood poisoning caused by the bacterium E.coli – bringing closer the spectre of diseases that are impossible to treat.
Experts say the growth of antibiotic resistance now poses as great a threat to global health as the emergence of new diseases such as Aids and pandemic flu.
Professor Peter Hawkey, a clinical microbiologist and chair of the Government’s antibiotic-resistance working group, said that antibiotic resistance had become medicine’s equivalent of climate change.
The “slow but insidious growth” of resistant organisms was threatening to turn common infections into untreatable diseases, he said. Already, an estimated 25,000 people die each year in the European Union from antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections.
“It is a worldwide issue – there are no boundaries,” he said. “We have very good policies on the use of antibiotics in man and in animals in the UK. But we are not alone. We have to think globally.” Between 2005 and 2009 the incidence of E.coli “bacteraemias” [the presence of bacteria in the blood] rose by 30 per cent, from 18,000 to over 25,000 cases. Those resistant to antibiotics have risen from 1 per cent at the beginning of the century to 10 per cent.
“Only one in 20 of infections with [resistant] E.coli is a bacteraemia, so the above data are only the tip of an iceberg of infected individuals,” says a report produced by Professor Hawkey’s group, commissioned by the Department of Health and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Dame Sally Davies, the Government’s chief medical officer, has pledged £500,000 to fund research into the threat. Drug companies have lost interest in developing new antibiotics because it is increasingly difficult to find new agents and it is not commercially viable – antibiotics are taken for a few days, compared with, say, a heart drug which may be taken for life.
“There are only so many antibiotics available and as we lose them it becomes more and more difficult to replace them,” Professor Hawkey said.
The rapid rise in E.coli blood poisoning is thought to be linked with the ageing of the population. E.coli is a common cause of urinary-tract infections but may also cause wound infections following surgery or injury. These are regarded as minor conditions, but if they became untreatable they would be life-threatening.
July 11, 2011
Scientists have found a “superbug” strain of gonorrhea in Japan that is resistant to all recommended antibiotics and say it could transform a once easily treatable infection into a global public health threat.
The new strain of the sexually transmitted disease — called H041 — cannot be killed by any currently recommended treatments for gonorrhea, leaving doctors with no other option than to try medicines so far untested against the disease.
Magnus Unemo of the Swedish Reference Laboratory for Pathogenic Neisseria, who discovered the strain with colleagues from Japan in samples from Kyoto, described it as both “alarming” and “predictable.”
“Since antibiotics became the standard treatment for gonorrhea in the 1940s, this bacterium has shown a remarkable capacity to develop resistance mechanisms to all drugs introduced to control it,” he said.
In a telephone interview Unemo, who will present details of the finding at a conference of the International Society for Sexually Transmitted Disease Research (ISSTDR) in Quebec, Canada on Monday, said the fact that the strain had been found first in Japan also followed an alarming pattern.
June 22nd, 2011
Pillows at home and in hospitals have been overlooked as breeding grounds for infectious germs—including superbugs—according to a study cited by The London Times on Wednesday.
The study revealed that after two years of use, more than than one third of a pillow’s weight is made up of living and dead dust mites, dust mite feces, dead skin and bacteria.
The findings, from UK public healthcare provider Barts and the London NHS Trust, emerged after a probe into standard-issue hospital pillows found that they were potential vehicles for infections such as methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Clostridium difficile (C. diff).
“People put a clean pillow case on and it looks and smells nice and fresh, but you are wrapping up something really nasty underneath,” said lead researcher, Dr. Art Tucker, principal clinical scientist at St. Barts Hospital. said Dr. Art Tucker, lead researcher and principal clinical scientist at St. Barts Hospital.
The study, presented at the Healthcare Associated Infections 2011 conference in London on Tuesday, compared the state of standard hospital pillows with a medical pillow developed by the company Gabriel Scientific during several months on different wards at the hospital.
The high-tech pillows, sold under the brand name SleepAngel, are made from a membrane that is normally used as a filter in a heart stent to keep out bacteria, and sealed by melting the edges together rather than sewn.
After two months the medical pillows tested negative for all bacteria under investigation, while the standard pillows tested positive for a range of micro-organisms.
The study stopped short of demonstrating that there was an increased risk of actual transmission of infections between hospital patients. Other scientists suggested that pillows were so widely used that they could not constitute a major health risk.
June 13th, 2011
By: The Associated Press
An 8-year-old girl who contracted rabies — likely from a feral cat — is a rare survivor of the infection without having received the life-saving vaccine, hospital officials said Sunday.
Precious Reynolds of Willow Creek, Calif., was treated by pediatricians at the University of California Davis Children’s Hospital in coordination with federal and California health officials, the hospital said in a statement.
The hospital said she’s the third person in the United States known to have recovered from the virus without having antiviral inoculations immediately after becoming infected. The Associated Press was unable to independently confirm the number, and a message left with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention late Sunday night was not immediately returned.
She contracted the disease in April but it was not clear exactly when, which was why she did not receive the usual series of shots that follow animal bites and keep humans from developing symptoms, the statement said.
Health officials believe she got it from a feral cat she encountered near her elementary school in rural Humboldt County in northern California, but an infected animal could not be found.
Tests in early May revealed she had the disease after Precious’s grandmother took her to the doctor because of flu-like symptoms that grew so serious her grandmother said they began to resemble polio.
Nurses at the hospital thought her chances were slim when she arrived at the pediatric intensive care unit.
“None of us thought she would leave the PICU,” Krystle Realyvasquez, a nurse who cared for Precious, said in the statement. “When she did it was unbelievable.”
The first such survivor — Jeanna Giese of Wisconsin — contracted the infection when she was bitten by a bat in 2004 when she was 14. Giese graduated from college last month.
The hospital said doctors followed the protocol first established with Giese. Precious was placed in a drug-induced coma as she received anti-viral medications.
She spent two weeks in intensive care undergoing the treatments, and immediately showed that her immune system was strong. She was then moved to the hospital’s general pediatric unit, where she remained Sunday.
“From the very beginning, Precious had a very rapid, robust immune response to her infection, which is a significant contributor to why she survived,” Dr. Jean Wiedeman, leader of the pediatric team, said in the statement. “She is truly a fighter.”
May 25th, 2011
By: Elizabeth Walling
Home treatment for a urinary tract infection (UTI) is often enough to resolve the problem if the right methods are used consistently. In fact, using natural methods to treat a urinary tract infection at the first sign of symptoms may help prevent a more serious infection from setting in.
Symptoms of a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
Common symptoms of a urinary tract infection include:
- urge to urinate more often
- decreased quantity of urine passed
- pain during and after urination ( usually a burning or stinging sensation)
Symptoms of a serious urinary tract infection include nausea, fever, vomiting and constant pain in the abdominal region. If you experience these serious symptoms, please consult a health professional.
Natural Home Remedies for a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
Cranberry. Perhaps the most well known UTI remedy, cranberries have long been prized for their ability to clear a urinary tract infection. One 2002 study showed that cranberry juice or cranberry tablets relieved UTI symptoms better than a placebo. Pure cranberry juice is recommended, as juice blends may not contain a high enough concentrate of cranberry to be effective.
Blueberry. Although not as well known as cranberries for treating a UTI, blueberries have also been shown to be an effective remedy for a urinary tract infection. You can eat fresh organic blueberries, make a smoothie from frozen berries or even blend pure blueberry juice with pure cranberry juice to harness the healing power of both of these berries.
Pineapple. Rich in vitamin C and bromelain, pineapple can help you fight off infection while also reducing inflammation. Bromelain has been shown to help resolve urinary tract infections, while vitamin C is a known immunity booster.
Uva Ursi. This herb is known for its ability to cleanse the kidneys and urinary system. It has antiseptic properties that can help reduce pathogenic bacteria causing the infection. A tincture or tea made with uva ursi is recommended at least once per day during a UTI.
Water. It`s the standard remedy for almost any illness, but drinking plenty of fluids is extremely important in the case of urinary tract infections. It allows the body to flush bacteria out of the urinary tract. You may be tempted to drink less since urination can be painful with a UTI, but if you keep up your fluid intake you will mostly likely notice a reduction in pain more quickly than if you did not.
March 3rd, 2011
By: Catherine Donaldson-Evans
The parents of a Texas toddler who died suddenly from meningitis are blaming the tragedy on contaminated alcohol wipes.
Sandra and Shanoop Kothari are suing the company that makes the now-recalled pads, saying they were tainted with deadly bacteria that infected their 2-year-old son Harrison while he was in the hospital, their lawyer told AOL Health.
Tests revealed the little boy died from acute bacterial meningitis brought on by a strain normally associated with food poisoning called Bacillus cereus. It doesn’t usually factor in to hospital infections.
“The loss is devastating,” the Kotharis’ Houston attorney Jim M. Perdue Jr. told AOL Health. “The family is shocked that a company can put out a product that is supposed to sterilize but can actually contaminate.”
Bacterial meningitis is a serious, life-threatening infection of the tissue covering the brain and spinal cord. It typically affects children, teens, young adults, the elderly and others with compromised immune systems. If it isn’t treated quickly, it can cause brain damage and death.
Harrison had just undergone surgery to remove a benign cyst near his spinal cord and brain when the infection suddenly overtook him. Until then, the Kotharis say, their son had been recovering normally. And doctors were just as mystified as his family.
“They had no explanation as to how he contracted it,” Harrison’s mother Sandra Kothari, 37, told MSNBC in the family’s sole media interview. “They know it’s rare in the hospital.”
After a week in the hospital last fall, the child was about to go home when he fell terribly ill.
“This child was healthy and on his way to being discharged,” said Perdue. “His recovery had gone very well, and he was infection-free.”
That all changed when the bacterial infection spread suddenly the day before he was released. The toddler deteriorated quickly, and within six hours of the meningitis developing, he was brain-dead, Perdue said. He was taken off life support the next morning, on December 1, 2010.
“He suffered two massive seizures at about midnight on the night before he was supposed to be released,” Perdue told AOL Health. “It happened very fast.”
The family was devastated, and didn’t understand what took their son’s life. But a month later, the Food and Drug Administration announced a widespread recall of all alcohol prep wipes made by the Triad Group because they were contaminated with Bacillus cereus. The Kotharis realized those were the very swabs that had been used on their little boy.
“These wipes were used in his care every single day, multiple times a day,” his father Shanoop Kothari, 38, told MSNBC. “We’re confident that that’s the cause. There was no other explanation that made any sort of sense. He contracted a very rare bacteria. These swatches were tainted with that bacteria.”
Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, which performed Harrison’s procedure and treated him afterwards, confirmed that the alcohol pads they used on the boy had been manufactured by Triad.
The Kotharis’ sued the Wisconsin company on Sunday for gross negligence and are seeking undisclosed damages in their son’s death, Perdue said. Triad has yet to respond to the claim, he told AOL Health.
“The recall … was very quiet. It did a very insufficient job of informing users,” he said. “This product is in school nurses’ offices, home medicine cabinets — not just on hospital shelves. It’s everywhere.”
The Triad Group has declined media requests for comment about the recall or the lawsuit.
FDA spokesman Christopher Kelly said the family-owned company “did everything correctly” in alerting the government agency about the voluntary mass recall, according to MSNBC. He declined to comment further or say whether other infections have resulted from the contamination.
The notice Triad issued on January 5 said they were recalling all lots of alcohol wipes, swabs, swabsticks and pads “out of an abundance of caution,” MSNBC.com reported. The company said they’d gotten one report of a mild skin infection from Bacillus cereus, but warned that using the tainted wipes “could lead to life-threatening infections, especially in at-risk populations, including immune-suppressed and surgical patients.”
The bulletin made no mention of how the products may have been contaminated in the first place. The pads are used in many hospitals and sold at chains including Walgreens and CVS.
March 3rd, 2011
By: Catherine Donaldson-Evans
Federal safety inspectors knew of contamination problems at a medical supplies plant long before millions of its tainted alcohol wipes were recalled and a 2-year-old Texas boy died from a rare infection blamed on the swabs, according to MSNBC.com.
Now others who used the products made by the Triad Group are coming forward to say that they too, may have been sickened, the website reported.
Government documents obtained by MSNBC.com show that officials from the Food and Drug Administration had flagged the Triad plant for issues with sterilization as early as July 2009.
“Procedures designed to prevent microbiological contamination of drug products purporting to be sterile are not followed,” FDA plant inspectors wrote. But MSNBC found no evidence that the agency did anything about the lapse or tried to enforce compliance with proper safety practices.
The Wisconsin-based Triad Group makes the alcohol wipes used on little Harrison Kothari while he was in the hospital in November to have a tumor near his spine removed. The toddler was recovering normally and was about to go home when he became gravely ill with what was later diagnosed as acute bacterial meningitis.
The infection was caused by a strain called Bacillus cereus that is normally associated with foodborne illness and can be heat- and disinfectant-resistant. The alcohol pads at the Houston hospital where Harrison was treated were found to be contaminated with that bacteria.
Within hours of contracting meningitis — and on the morning he was to go home — the child was brain-dead.
Since MSNBC reported on Harrison’s Dec. 1 death and the subsequent lawsuit his family filed against Triad last week for gross negligence, dozens of others have contacted the Kotharis’ lawyers. At last count, more than 50 people had come forward with concerns that they, too, might have been infected by the tainted pads, the website said.
Among them: a Tennessee man who is suing Triad for $30 million. Donovan Joseph Postich, 55, claims that his Bacillus cereus infection from the alcohol wipes forced him to have heart surgery and left him permanently disabled, according to MSNBC.com.
“That was the most scared I’ve been in my life,” Postich told the website. “They told me about the tainted pads and you just kind of put two and two together.”
None of the new reports of infections and injuries have been confirmed, said Jim M. Perdue Jr., who is representing the Kothari family.
“We’re seeing a wide spectrum of complaints,” Perdue told MSNBC.com. Reports of everything from mild skin infections to serious illness and even another claim of a death have flooded in and are being investigated, he said.
Triad recalled all lots of its alcohol prep wipes, pads and swabs on Jan. 5 over fears they’d been tainted with Bacillus cereus. The family-owned company warned that using the contaminated products “could lead to life-threatening infections, especially in at-risk populations, including immune-suppressed and surgical patients.”
March 1st, 2011
By: Catherine Donaldson-Evans
When your child has a fever, it’s natural to panic. And panicking parents often try to treat the problem with drugs.
Not so fast, says a new study published in the journal Pediatrics. Reaching for the fever meds is actually the last thing a mom or dad should do — unless their little girl or boy is really suffering.
“There’s a myth out there that if you have a fever, you could have brain damage or seizures. That causes parents to be very anxious,” research co-author Janice Sullivan told Time.com. “Sometimes children with a fever of 103 will sit and play and act completely normal.”
Sullivan, a professor of pediatric critical care and clinical pharmacology at the University of Louisville, says fever generally doesn’t hurt children. It can actually help them because it sends a message to the body to produce more white blood cells, which ward off infection.
What that means is that a fever might actually cut the length of time a child is sick by stopping bacterial infections and viruses from multiplying, according to Sullivan.
The message? Don’t load your kids up on Tylenol, Advil or other fever-reducing medicine just because their body temperature is up a bit. Doctors wouldn’t, unless the fever is 101 degrees or higher, the research shows.
Sullivan and her team found that parents are quick to treat kids’ fevers with medicine, with a quarter of them saying they use it for fevers of under 100 degrees and 85 percent reporting they’d roused their children from sleep to give them medicine to bring their temperatures down.
The researchers said exceptions should be made for babies under 3 months old who have a fever that’s higher than 100.4 degrees and those 3 to 6 months old with a temperature over 101 degrees. They said immediate medical care is necessary in those cases.
But for the little ones older than 6 months, fevers shouldn’t send off alarm bells unless they’re higher than 103 degrees, the study said. If they’re accompanied by other serious symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting, a trip to the pediatrician may be in order.
The report warns that though it may be more effective to alternate between acetaminophen and ibuprofen, the safety concerns over mixing the two probably outweigh the possible benefits.
There is “evidence that combining these two products is more effective than the use of a single agent alone; however, there are concerns that combined treatment may be more complicated and contribute to the unsafe use of these drugs,” the authors wrote.
Moms and dads who do decide to treat the temp with fever-busting medicine should give the correct dose, which is by the child’s weight, not age, Sullivan said. Her analysis found that half of parents give the wrong amount of medicine to their kids.
February 16th, 2011
By: Catherine Donaldson Evans
When CBS Los Angeles reporter Serene Branson suddenly fumbled her words and appeared to lose the ability to speak during her live Grammy’s coverage Sunday night, many chalked it up to an embarrassing gaffe.
But many now believe that Branson suffered a mild stroke or other neurological problem during the post-awards show telecast.
The station’s website initially said that Branson was checked by paramedics after the episode and her vital signs were normal, so she was sent home with a colleague. Monday evening, however, the station reported on air that Branson had gone to see a doctor for testing. She was said to be resting at home.
Watch a video on the incident from the “Today” show. Article continues below.
A number of experts believe Branson should have immediately gone to the hospital following the episode, even though her vital signs were normal.
“She could have recovered and had perfectly normal function, normal vital signs and gone home. Not the right thing to do,” NBC chief medical editor Dr. Nancy Snyderman told the “Today” show on Tuesday. “This could be a harbinger of more things to come.”
Her symptoms point to what could be a serious neurological problem.
“Stroke is the number one possibility,” Dr. John Krakauer told CBS News. Krakauer, an associate professor of neurology and neuroscience at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, said that about 50,000 people under the age of 50 have a stroke every year.
Krakauer, Snyderman and others believe Branson could have experienced a miniature temporary stroke called a transient ischemic attack, or TIA.
“This is in real time what I would call a transient ischemic attack or a mild stroke,” said Snyderman. “Something has happened to the circuitry of her brain such that she cannot speak.”
Dr. Keith Black, the head of the department of neurosurgery at Cedar-Sinai Medical Center, said a TIA is caused by a blockage of blood flow to the brain.
“This is what we’d call a classic neurological event,” he told “Today.” “She was obviously aware that she was having difficulty.”
A stroke of any kind can also cause sudden vision loss, dizziness, difficulty walking, numbness in the face and loss of feeling on one side of the body, according to the American Heart Association. Distorted speech is a tell-tale warning sign.
“Well, a very heavy du-burtation tonight,” Branson said incomprehensibly during the Grammy Awards, grinning. The slurring worsened quickly, and her chatter deteriorated into gibberish.
Drugs and alcohol can be ruled out, explained Snyderman, partly because of Branson’s “stellar history” and partly because the video of the event paints another picture.
“The right side of her face gets a little weak, and if you watch her eyes, you can see she senses something is wrong,” she told “Today.”
Branson may also have had a small seizure caused by a brain tumor, infection, blood clot or other health problem, according to experts.
No matter what happened, the TV reporter will have to be closely monitored by doctors, since neurological occurrences like a TIA can raise the risk of a full-blown stroke later.
“She’s going to have a long-term relationship with a neurologist,” explained Snyderman. “This is not something where doctors will say, ‘Oh, okay, fine. You’re okay.’”
The Los Angeles CBS station said Branson appreciates the concern shown by the public and hopes to return to work soon.