Health Highlights: Dec. 7, 2012
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
3 More Compounding Pharmacies Ordered Closed in Massachusetts
Three compounding pharmacies in Massachusetts have been ordered to halt operations following unannounced inspections by state regulators. The inspections came in the wake of a deadly meningitis outbreak linked to another compounding pharmacy in the state, the New England Compounding Center.
OncoMed Pharmaceutical Services stopped production at its Waltham facility after an inspection revealed issues with the storage of chemotherapy drugs. Pallimed Solutions was told to cease production of sildenafil citrate (sold as Viagra) after inspectors found that it had been prepared with improper components. The Whittier Pharmacist was told to halt sterile compounding after unspecified violations were identified, CBS News/The Associated Press reported.
As of Dec. 3, 363 cases of fungal meningitis and more than 150 spinal infections have been linked to contaminated steroid injections made by the New England Compounding Center, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Thirty-six people have died.
The outbreak has raised questions about the regulation of compounding pharmacies, which mix medications. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg has asked lawmakers to give the FDA more authority and funding to oversee compounding pharmacies, which are regulated by states, CBS News/AP reported.
Nurse in Kate Middleton Radio Prank Reportedly Commits Suicide
News reports suggest that the nurse at a London Hospital who was tricked into providing two Australian radio hosts with information about the Duchess of Cambridge's pregnancy condition has committed suicide.
At about 9:35 a.m. Friday, officers responded to reports of a woman found unconscious at an address in central London, Scotland Yard said. She was pronounced dead at the scene, and the death is being treated as unexplained but not suspicious, CBS News reported.
King Edward VII hospital confirmed the nurse's death.
Earlier this week, the two radio hosts called the hospital and pretended to be Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles asking about the Duchess of Cambridge, the former Kate Middleton, who was being treated for severe morning sickness.
New Rules Would Ease Veterans' Access to Brain Injury Benefits
Proposed new rules that will make it easier for thousands of American veterans to receive health care and compensation for certain conditions linked to traumatic brain injury were announced by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Under the revised regulations, veterans with Parkinsonism, unprovoked seizures, certain dementias, depression and hormone deficiency diseases linked to the hypothalamus, pituitary or adrenal glands would be eligible for the expanded benefits, The New York Times reported.
The changes could lead to tens of thousands of veterans filing claims with the Veterans Benefits Administration.
The regulations will be published Monday in the Federal Register and there will be a 60-day public comment period, the Times reported.
Drug Makers Fight Calif. Drug Take-Back Law
U.S. drug companies are fighting a local law in California that makes them responsible for funding and running a program where consumers can bring in unused medicines for proper disposal.
The law in Alameda County, Calif. -- which includes Oakland and Berkeley -- was enacted in July and is the first such law in the country. Drug companies have until July 1, 2013 to submit their plans for complying with the law, The New York Times reported.
The drug industry planned to file a lawsuit in United States District Court in Oakland on Friday in an effort to have the law overturned. The lawsuit is being filed by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, which represents brand-name and generic drug makers, and biotechnology companies.
The law was enacted due growing concerns that unused medicines are a potential threat to public health and the environment. Most drug take-back programs are run by local or other government agencies. But there are increasing calls to make drug makers pay for such programs, the Times reported.