Health Highlights: May 9, 201305/09/13
Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Wrigley Halts Sales of Caffeinated Gum
Wrigley Co. announced Wednesday that it will pull its new
caffeinated gum off the market while the U. S. Food and Drug
Administration investigates the safety of adding caffeine to food
Michael Taylor, FDA's deputy commissioner of foods, said in a
statement to the
Associated Pressthat Wrigley's decision "demonstrates real
leadership and commitment to the public health." Taylor added that
the company had talks with the agency before making the
"After discussions with the FDA, we have a greater appreciation for its concern about the proliferation of caffeine in the nation's food supply," Wrigley North America President Casey Keller said in a statement to the AP.
Keller told the wire service that production and sales of Alert
Energy Caffeine Gum, which has the equivalent of half a cup of
coffee in each stick, will be suspended until the FDA can craft a
way to regulate caffeine-added products. The agency had announced
it would investigate the issue just as the gum was introduced to
consumers last month.
Other food manufacturers have added caffeine to candy, nuts and
other snack foods in recent years, according to the
AP, and health organizations have questioned the safety of
marketing caffeine products to children, who do not metabolize the
stimulant the same way adults do.
U.S. Drug Spending Declines for First Time in Decades
A flood of cheaper generic versions of popular prescription
medicines is the main reason for the first drop in drug spending in
the U.S. in nearly six decades, says a report from a leading
pharmaceutical research group.
Consumer drug costs were $325.8 billion in 2012, a one percent
decrease from 2011, according to IMS Institute for Healthcare
Informatics. Adjusted for inflation and population growth, the
decline was 3.5 percent. Average spending per person in 2012 was
$898, which was $33 lower than in 2011, the
Los Angeles Timesreported.
Another factor that contributed to lower drug spending in 2012
was a weaker-than-normal cough, cold and flu season, according to
The researchers also found that while U.S. pharmacies filled
more prescriptions overall in 2012, there was a slight decline in
the number of prescriptions filled on a per-person basis, the
That could mean that some people didn't take prescribed drugs or
that consumers are getting more efficient health care, said IMS
research director Michael Kleinrock.
Cervical Cancer Vaccine Prices Cut for Poor Nations
The prices of two vaccines that protect against cervical cancer
are being cut to below $5 per dose for the world's poorest
countries, vaccine makers Merck and GlaxoSmithKline announced
The price cuts will eventually make it possible for millions of
girls and women in those countries to be protected against a major
cause of cancer death. Pap tests have made fatal cervical cancers
almost unknown in rich nations, but the disease kills an estimated
275,000 women a year in poor countries,
The New York Timesreported.
The announcement of the lower prices -- $4.50 per dose for
Merck's Gardasil vaccine and $4.60 for Glaxo's Cervarix -- is "a
great step forward for women and girls," said the World Health
The vaccines cost about $130 a dose in the United States and
each girl needs three doses,
The lower prices will initially apply to a few million doses for
demonstration projects in Kenya, Ghana, Laos, Madagascar and other
locations, but by 2020, 30 million girls in 40 countries should get
the vaccines at the reduced cost or lower, according to Dr. Seth
Berkley, chief executive officer of the GAVI Alliance.
The lower vaccine prices were negotiated through the alliance,
which was created in 1999 with a grant from the Bill and Melinda
Gates Foundation to deliver more vaccines to poor people worldwide,
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