Health Highlights: Sept. 16, 201109/16/11
Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Bachmann's Cervical Cancer Vaccine Claim Challenged
If Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann can back
up her statement that the human papillomavirus vaccine causes
mental retardation, a respected Philadelphia bioethicist said he
will give $10,000 to charity.
Bachmann brought up the HPV vaccine, which protect girls and
women from a sexually transmitted disease that causes cervical
cancer, during the Republican presidential debate on Monday. On
television the next day, she said the vaccine was linked to
Medical experts disputed her remarks, and on Thursday Arthur
Caplan of the University of Pennsylvania called on Bachmann to
support her claim or to pay up, the
Associated Press reported.
If the Minnesota Congresswoman can produce a legitimate vaccine
victim within a week, Caplan said he will make the donation to any
charity of her choice. If she cannot prove her claim, he suggested
she make a $10,000 donation to a pro-vaccine organization, the
Caplan told the news agency he had not heard back from Bachmann,
who received a similar, $1,000 challenge from a University of
Minnesota bioethicist, Steven Miles.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends
girls receive all three doses of the vaccine at age 11 or 12.
Two Deaths Linked to Tainted Cantaloupes
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said at
least two deaths in western states have been caused by contaminated
cantaloupe grown in Colorado, and that additional testing may
reveal more deaths from the Listeria outbreak.
The deaths were reported in Colorado and New Mexico, and health
experts believe the source of the outbreak is the Jensen Farms'
melon farm in Colorado's Rocky Ford region. The outbreak has also
sickened 22 people and spread to seven states, including Indiana,
Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas and West Virginia, the CDC said.
A spokeswoman for Jensen Farms told the
Associated Press that one of its Rocky Ford cantaloupes
tested positive for the Listeria bacteria, and that additional
tests will determine if it's the same strain identified in the
Stores reportedly selling the Jensen cantaloupes include
Wal-Mart and Safeway Inc. Safeway announced a recall of Jensen's
jumbo cantaloupes sold between Aug. 30 and Sept. 6 in Colorado,
Wyoming, Nebraska, New Mexico and South Dakota, the
Birth Control Pills Recalled Due to Packaging Problem
Because of a packaging error that could cause the incorrect use
of birth control pills, Qualitest Pharmaceuticals is voluntarily
recalling eight of its contraceptive products,
Dow Jones reported.
Qualitest, a subsidiary of Endo Pharmaceuticals Holdings, Inc.,
announced the recall of Emoquette, Orsythia, Previfem and
Tri-Previfem contraceptives plus two Gildess products and two
The company is looking into the error, which reversed weekly
pill orientation in the blister pack and could lead women to take
the pill regimen incorrectly, putting them at risk of unintended
pregnancy. Also, the expiration date and lot number on the
defective packages were no longer visible,
Dow Jones said.
Pharmacies were asked to notify consumers who have purchased the
affected contraceptives, and consumers with the pill packs were
advised to start using a nonhormonal contraceptive right away and
consult their pharmacist or doctor.
Journalists Oppose Removal of Malpractice Database
The removal from the Internet of a public database on medical
malpractice and disciplinary actions has drawn fire from three U.S.
Because of a complaint from a Kansas neurosurgeon, an agency of
the Department of Health and Human Services recently removed the
"public use file" from the National Practitioner Data Bank, which
provides important information, with doctors' names deleted, on
disciplinary procedures and malpractice awards,
The New York Times reported.
Reporters across the country have used the public use file to
write stories that have exposed serious lapses in the oversight of
doctors that have put patients at risk, said Charles Ornstein,
president of the Association of Health Care Journalists, the
Times reported. "Their stories have led to new legislation,
additional levels of transparency in various states, and kept
medical boards focused on issues of patient safety."
The health reporters' group, along with the Society of
Professional Journalists and another national association,
Investigative Reporters and Editors, jointly sent the agency a
letter objecting to the move.
Agency spokesman Martin A. Kramer told
The Times that the doctor's complaint raised concerns that a
Kansas City reporter might have gotten into the full data bank,
rather than just the public use section, although the reporter said
he had only accessed the public site.
He said he hopes the public use file will be available to the
public within six months, possibly changed to further safeguard
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