Public/Global Health

Public/Global Health

Administration declares Mideast flu a potential public health emergency

The Obama administration on Tuesday designated a respiratory disease now found in the Middle East as a potential threat to public health and national security.

The move gives officials the authority to fast-track the approval of treatments and tests for Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), which causes flu-like symptoms and has killed 30 people since April of last year. Because this is a new strain of coronavirus there are no federally approved ways to test for it.


SARS-like coronavirus spreads to Italy

A strain of coronavirus rarely seen in humans has spread from Jordan to Italy, causing the country's first case of the deadly bug, health officials said.

The coronavirus has been compared to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and often leads to serious respiratory illness, if not pneumonia or kidney failure.

A SARS outbreak in late 2003 killed 775 people around the world. 


Study calls for crackdown on 'reckless' drug compounders

Last year's deadly meningitis outbreak will repeat itself unless the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is empowered to regulate high-volume drug compounders, a new study warned.

U.S. PIRG, the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups, found dozens of safety violations cited by the FDA in a decade of warning letters to compounding pharmacies.

The compounders frequently produced unapproved drugs, operated under unsanitary conditions and used unapproved, potentially unsafe ingredients. 


GOP questions stimulant use in dietary supplements

The House Energy and Commerce Committee is launching an inquiry into a potentially dangerous stimulant used in dietary supplements sold by General Nutrition Centers (GNC).

Top lawmakers on the committee sent a series of letters Wednesday to federal regulators, GNC and USPlabs, maker of a dietary supplement known as Jack3d.

The powder is marketed as a workout enhancer and contains dimethylamylamine, a synthetic drug linked to several deaths. 


Dems push regulators on arsenic in fruit juice

Reps. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) are calling for a speedy release of federal guidelines to reduce the amount of arsenic in fruit juice.

The two lawmakers pushed the White House budget office to release industry guidance on arsenic now under consideration from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

"It is inexcusable that these guidelines are stalled while consumers continue to be exposed to potentially dangerous levels of arsenic," Pallone and DeLauro wrote. 


Bill would enhance FDA's antibiotics reporting

A new bipartisan Senate bill seeks to combat drug-resistant disease by requiring federal health officials to enhance reporting of antibiotic use in agriculture.

The measure would require the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to report antibiotic sales data "publicly, comprehensively and predictably," according to the Pew Charitable Trusts.

"This bill is critical to helping us understand how antibiotic overuse on industrial farms is affecting human health," says Laura Rogers, director of Pew’s campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming.


Bill sets ambitious deadline for ending breast cancer

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) is bringing back a bill to fight breast cancer with a new commission to identify prevention and treatment strategies for the disease.

The measure, "Accelerating the End of Breast Cancer Act," is designed to help end breast cancer by 2020, Whitehouse said.

"Breast cancer continues to affect too many of our mothers, wives, sisters, and friends," the Rhode Island Democrat said in a statement. "This bill … will help drive our efforts to put an end to this tragic disease." 


Adult suicide on the rise, CDC finds

Federal health officials are calling for new attention on suicide in middle age after finding that more U.S. adults are taking their own lives.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported Thursday that the rate of middle-aged suicide has risen "substantially" in the last decade and now surpasses the rate of car crash deaths.

The agency speculated that the recent economic downturn and the wider availability of opioid prescription drugs may be responsible for the trend.


Pediatricians to push for gun control on Capitol Hill

Gun violence will be back on the agenda Tuesday as members of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) climb Capitol Hill to push for more robust gun control measures.

About 110 pediatricians from 40 states will meet with congressional staff during the fly-in, according to the AAP.

The group will advocate for stronger background checks, an assault weapons ban, and federal research on gun violence prevention.