Tylenol recalled by Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson said on Wednesday that it was recalling 9 million more bottles of its Tylenol painkiller because they did not adequately warn customers about the presence of trace amounts of alcohol used in the product flavorings.
The latest in a seemingly incessant string of J&J recalls involves three Tylenol Cold Multi-Symptom liquid products. More than 200 million packages of Tylenol and other consumer brands have been recalled over the past year due to quality control problems. “There is less than 1 percent alcohol in the flavoring, and this information is on the back of the bottles,” company spokeswoman Bonnie Jacobs said.

“But the information does not appear on the front of the bottles,” she added, an omission that sparked the recall of the affected lots from wholesalers and retail outlets.
The company said no side effects had been seen with the products and that customers who already had the formulations can continue to take them.

Source: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40357881/ns/health-health_care/?GT1=43001

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Lung Cancer Month

November is National Lung Cancer Month.  According to Lung Cancer Alliance, the vast majority of Lung Cancer cases fall into one of two different categories:

Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer is the most common type of Lung Cancer, making up nearly 85% of all cases. This type of Lung Cancer grows and spreads more slowly than small cell lung cancer. Non-small cell lung cancer is divided into three different subcategories. Squamous cell carcinoma originates in the thin, flat cells that line the passages of the respiratory tract. Adenocarcinoma begins in the cells that form the lining of the lungs. Large cell carcinomas make up a group of cancers that look large and abnormal under a microscope.

Small Cell Lung Cancer makes up nearly 20% of all Lung Cancer cases. It is associated with cancer cells smaller in size than most other cancer cells. These cells may be small, but they can rapidly reproduce to form large tumors. Their size and quick rate of reproduction allows them to spread to the lymph nodes and to other organs of the body. This type of Lung Cancer is almost always caused by smoking or second hand smoke.

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FDA Reveals New Cigarette Warning Labels

The Federal Food and Drug Administration has revealed possible cigarette warning labels.  The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act require that cigarette packages and advertisements have larger and more visible graphic health warnings.  There are nine proposed color graphics that will be on the upper half of cigarette packages.

I think the new graphics may deter nonsmokers from starting to smoke.  It will have little effect on current smokers.  The graphics are not that graphic and don’t show the real damage smoking can do.  I think the best fear campaign is the anti-methamphetamine faces of meth use campaign.  These images are graphic and show how meth use takes a toll on the body.


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‘Lion King’ Star Dies from Leukemia

Shannon Tavarez, the 11-year-old who played Young Nala in Broadway’s “Lion King,” died Monday Nov. 1.

Shannon lost her six-month battle against leukemia.  Doctors had a difficult time finding matching bone marrow to transplant because she was part African-American and part Hispanic.

Tavarez received a cord-blood transplant in August because a bone marrow match was not found.

According to DKMS Americas, of the 7 million Americans listed as potential donors, only 12 percent are minorities.

Shannon was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia and had to put her performance on hold to begin chemotherapy.  Her friends from school organized a drive at Minskoff Theater in Times Square in hopes of finding a bone marrow match.

More than 10,000 people from around the country, including 50 Cent, Rihanna and Alicia Keys, volunteered to be bone marrow donors in her name.  A match was never found.

Shannon Tavarez death resonated with me.  She seemed like a very brave and positive person in the face of adversity.  She was positive in all of her interviews despite the unlikelihood of finding a match.  According to the National Bone Marrow Program, only 7 percent, or about 550,000, are African-American. Only 3 percent are Hispanic and 2 percent Asian.

These numbers need to change.  To help change these statistics I registered to be a donor through the National Marrow Donor Program.  By registering I hope to influence others to do so.  I want to help someone live by being a match.


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Cold Cap May Help With Hair Loss During Chemotherapy

Photo Courtesy – ABC News — When Shirley Billigmeier was diagnosed with breast cancer this spring, she was grateful for a good prognosis and set about preparing for the life disruptionthat comes with undergoing a lumpectomy, radiation and chemotherapy.

“I just had a feeling that I was just going to be sick this whole time,” said Billigmeier. “And my concern was that it was just gonna absolutely take me out of my life for a while.”

When her doctor told her that total hair loss was an inevitable side effect of the chemotherapy, she braced herself and bought a wig, but then a friend told her about another breast cancer patient who managed to preserve her hair using a little-known approach that involves keeping the scalp very cold during chemotherapy treatments.

Billigmeier tracked down the makers of Penguin Cold Caps, designed to help chemotherapy patients keep their hair.

“[He] gives me a list of probably 10 women,” said Billigmeier. “I start calling and start having some great conversations with lots of women across the United States. And the women I was talking to, they kept their hair.”

Her Minneapolis oncologist, Dr. Paul Zander, was skeptical at first. He knew that early experiments in the United States in the 1980s hadn’t been very promising. Still, he gave her the okay to try it. So, each day she received chemotherapy, Billigmeier put on a freshly chilled cap chilled to minus-22 degrees Fahrenheit every 30 minutes for seven hours.

But would it work? After her sixth and final treatment, Billigmeier’s locks were intact.

“My hair is all there,” she said. “It definitely works.”

No one knows how it works. One theory is the caps may decrease blood flow to the scalp, causing the blood vessels in the scalp to shrink. This, in turn, blocks the harsh chemicals in the chemotherapy from reaching the hair follicles. But the fact is no one knows exactly why some women keep their hair after using the caps.

Some doctors are worried by the lack of data on cold caps and fear the treatment may even do more harm than good, for some patients. Still, cold caps are experiencing a groundswell of support from a growing number of women receiving chemotherapy who say it works — and spread the news.

While early trials with scalp cooling showed it often was ineffective, an analysis of 53 studies showed that since 1995 research suggests the scalp cooling preserves hair in about 70 percent of patients.

But a number of doctors told ABC News they don’t support the approach because of another concern.

“I don’t know how well this was substantiated, but there has been concern that by blocking chemotherapy from reaching the area of the hair follicles there would be an increase in metastases of the scalp,” said Dr. Mary Daly, an oncologist at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia.

Since there are no substantial longitudinal studies measuring such a risk, many doctors strongly discourage using the caps.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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New Licensing of AIDS Drug May Start Patent Pool

The National Institution of Health became the first entity to license its patent on a new AIDS drug to an entity affiliated with the World Health Organization.

This move has given official American backing to the controversial idea of a “patent pool.”  Even though N.I.H. has the rights to the patent on the drug, darunavir, it does not mean generic-drug makers will be able to make it cheaply for poor countries.

This move does put increase pressure on drug makers to follow suit and allow licensing to patents.

Many companies have been reluctant because they may fear loosing profits and control over the drugs quality.  Bad drug manufacturing by a company that buys licensing could damage a company’s reputation because they are still affiliated with the drug.

“We ask that companies step up and collaborate so we can quickly see more affordable, easy-to-use pills getting into people’s mouths,” said Nelson Otwoma, head of Kenya’s Network of People Living with H.I.V./AIDS and a Unitaid board member.

The companies are smart in thinking of possible problems that could result from releasing the patents to generic drugs.  The drug companies would have to make a continuous effort to make sure the drugs remain a quality product if they did decide to allow licensing to patents.

Source: New York Times-National Institutes of Health Licensing Its Patent on a New Drug for AIDS-by: Donald G. McNeil Jr.

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New Allegations Against Tour de France Winner

Three-time Tour de France winner, Alberto Contador, has tested positive for a banned drug.  Contador failed his first test at the Tour de France last summer.  The latest test was given by the International Cycling Union.

This test detects a chemical called plasticizer that is found in plastic IV bags.  This positive could be the use of blood transfusions to increase endurance.  The World Anti-Doping Agency bans blood transfusions and intravenous infusions, except in medical emergencies.

A test performed from the Tour de France showed high levels of a chemical that signifies doping.

Contador released a statement saying he tested positive for clenbuterol, a weight-loss and muscle building drug.  Contador said he tested positive for clenbuterol from his consumption of tainted beef from Spain.

Contador denied allegations of doping and said he knew nothing about the latest test.

The problem with these allegations is the test to detect plasticizers from IV bags.  The test has been around for more than a year in anti-doping, but it has not been validated for use.  This means an athlete could easily question its validity.  Another problem is the lack of official confirmation.  The information concerning results has come from an anonymous source with knowledge of the test results.

Contador’s press agent, Jacinto Vidarte, said his client has done nothing illegal and denies receiving any transfusions.

Contador’s endorsement deals with Sidi could be negatively affected by the allegations of doping.  If Contador looses favor with the publics Sidi appeals to, he could loose his contract.

Source: A Second Failed Test Puts Heat on Contador-New York Times-by:Juliet Macur

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