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Health Highlights: March 24, 2008

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

Another U.S. Company Recalls Heparin

Another company has announced a U.S.-wide recall of the blood thinner heparin. B. Braun Medical Inc. said it's recalling 23 lots of heparin as a precautionary measure, but added that no adverse events have been reported in connection with its product, the Associated Press reported.

Contaminated heparin distributed by a different company, Baxter International Inc., has been associated with 19 deaths and hundreds of allergic reactions. The heparin was contaminated with a chemical called oversulfated chondroitin sulfate, which does not occur naturally.

Braun decided to issue the recall after one of its suppliers, Scientific Protein Laboratories in Wisconsin, warned that a Chinese-sourced ingredient it supplied to Braun contained oversulfated chondroitin sulfate.

Scientific Protein Laboratories is also a suppler to Baxter International Inc., which has recalled nearly all of its heparin distributed in the United States. There have been similar heparin recalls in Germany and Japan, the AP reported.

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Recall of Neuromodulation Implantable Infusion Pumps

A U.S. Food and Drug Administration notice of a Class I recall of Medtronic's Neuromodulation Implantable Infusion Pumps has been issued to healthcare providers. Medtronic has received reports of inflammatory mass formations at or near the tip of catheters that infuse opioids, baclofen, or chemotherapy drugs into patients in order to treat pain, spasticity or cancer.

Medtronic has updated the labeling for the devices to include current patient management and treatment recommendations, the FDA said.

In late January, 2008, the company sent a letter to doctors who implant the devices and/or provide care to patients with the implanted device. In the letter, Medtronic described the problem, patient risks and management, recommendations and next steps.

Company representatives will document their contact with each doctor regarding the recall, and doctors will be asked to sign and return a reply card, the FDA said.

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Live Chickens Banned in Jakarta

Beginning in 2010, the trade of live chickens in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta will be banned as part of the effort to control the spread of bird flu, the Associated Press reported.

Livestock official Edy Setiarto said poultry will have to be killed at government-licensed slaughterhouses outside Jakarta before being brought to market in the city. Currently, most people prefer to buy live chickens, which are then slaughtered.

About 70 percent of Indonesia's bird flu cases occur in Jakarta and the surrounding area, Setiarto said. Last year, the government told city residents they could no longer keep chickens in backyards, but the rule has been largely ignored, the AP reported.

Indonesia has been hardest hit by the H5N1 bird flu virus. Of the 236 people worldwide killed by the virus since it first appeared in poultry in 2003, 105 of the victims have been in Indonesia.

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Court Ruling Upholds Integrity of Journals' Peer Review Process: Editorial

A recent court ruling that protected confidential information held by the Journal of the American Medical Association and the journal Archives of Internal Medicine allows the journals' peer review process to work without outside interference, according to an editorial published online Monday by JAMA editor-in-chief Dr. Catherine D. DeAngelis and JAMA editorial counsel Joseph P. Thornton.

Last year, attorneys for Pfizer, Inc. issued subpoenas to obtain confidential information from the journals about studies published on the COX-2 inhibitor pain relief drugs celecoxib and valdecoxib.

According to the editorial, "the subpoenas sought all documents regarding the decision to accept or reject manuscripts, copies of rejected manuscripts, the identities of peer reviewers and the manuscripts they reviewed, and the comments by and among peer reviewers and editor regarding manuscripts, revisions, and publications decisions."

The journals argued that the sanctity of the peer review process should not be violated and, in a ruling issued March 14, the court agreed with the journals.

"The subpoenas attempted to invade the peer review process, and we are delighted that Magistrate Judge Keys said so when he ruled they could not be enforced against us," the journal editorial said.

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Hyperactive Girls Have More Problems Later in Life: Study

Young girls who are hyperactive are more likely than other girls to have major problems when they're older, such as teen pregnancy, abusive relationships, and poor job prospects, says a study by Canadian and British researchers.

The researchers assessed more than 800 girls yearly between the ages of 6 and 12 for hyperactive behavior -- such as restlessness, fidgeting, jumping up and down -- and signs of physical aggression. When the girls were in their early 20s, those with both hyperactivity and aggression were more likely to report early pregnancy, welfare dependence and physical and psychological aggression toward partners, BBC News reported.

The study was published in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry.

The researchers noted that most research on the lasting impact of childhood hyperactivity has focused on boys, BBC News reported.

"Hyperactivity is less common in girls than in boys but there are girls with this behavior which can lead to serious problems in later life," said study leader Dr. Nathalie Fontaine, a researcher at University College London.

She and her colleagues said hyperactive young girls should be targeted early in life to help them do better in school.

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More Than 200 Suspected Salmonella Cases in Alamosa, Colo.

As of Sunday, there were 68 confirmed and 148 suspected salmonella cases in the southern Colorado town of Alamosa in an outbreak believed to be linked to municipal tap water. Nine people have been hospitalized during the outbreak, but only one person was believed to still be in a hospital, said public information officer Jim Shires.

Beginning Tuesday morning, officials plan to start flushing the water system with a chlorine solution, the Associated Press reported. The flushing could take several days.

Residents were told last Wednesday to stop drinking and cooking with municipal water after bacterial contamination was detected in tap water samples. Bottled water is available and residents can fill large containers at water-distribution centers set up around the town.

On Friday, Gov. Bill Ritter declared a public health emergency, which made available $300,000 in aid and activated the Colorado National Guard to help distribute safe water, the AP.

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Man Brings Horse to Visit Hospital Patient

Did you hear the one about a man and his horse? Well, officials at a hospital in Hawaii did and certainly weren't laughing.

A man walked a horse through the lobby of the Wilcox Memorial Hospital, got on an elevator and made it to the third floor before being stopped by security guards, BBC News reported.

The man brought what he believed to be a sick relative's favorite horse to cheer up the patient. Hospital spokeswoman Lani Yukimura said there is a visitation policy for "cats and dogs, but not for horses," BBC News reported.

"We just hope people understand this is not a place for a horse," Yukimura said. "It's a very dangerous thing. Our greatest concern is patient care."

The horse did leave a few scuff marks but caused no damage or injuries, BBC News reported.

Posted: March 2008


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