Health Highlights: June 16, 2010

By on June 16, 2010

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

‘Female Viagra’ Pill Has Little Effect on Libido: FDA

A new pill created to increase a woman’s sex drive didn’t have much impact on libido but did appear to slightly boost sexual satisfaction, according to two studies reviewed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The drug, called flibanserin, is related to the antidepressant family and affects serotonin and a number of other brain chemicals. Drug maker Boehringer Ingelheim is seeking FDA approval of the drug, the Associated Press reported.

On Friday, an FDA advisory panel of outside experts will meet to discuss the safety and effectiveness of flibanserin, including side effects such as depression, dizziness and fainting, and whether the drug should be approved by the FDA.

Many previous attempts to develop a so-called “female Viagra” were abandoned after showing little promise, the AP reported.

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Men Less Likely To Seek Routine Health Care: Study

Only 57 percent of American men see a doctor, nurse practitioner or physician assistant for routine health care, compared with 74 percent of women, says a federal government report.

The latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality looked at a 2007 survey that asked respondents if they’d made an appointment for routine care within the previous 12 months.

Among the other findings:

  • White men (63 percent) were more likely to make routine care appointments than black men (43.5 percent) or Hispanic men (35.5 percent).
  • People ages 18 to 64 with private insurance were nearly twice as likely to make an appointment than uninsured people (69 percent vs. 36 percent).
  • Respondents who said they were in excellent health were much more likely (76 percent) to make an appointment than those who said their health was fair or poor (52 percent).
  • Seventy-five percent of those with higher incomes made an appointment, compared with 54 percent of those with low incomes.

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Oil Spill Health Concerns Could Last Years: Experts

The massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill could cause health concerns for years and it’s unclear how long the oil and dispersants will remain toxic, according to experts who appeared Tuesday before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

“The impacts of this disaster must be considered in the framework in not weeks or months, but years,” Lisa Kaplowitz, a deputy assistant secretary of health and human services involved in preparedness and response, told the committee, CNN reported.

She added that there is a lack of long-term research on the toxicity of oil in the environment.

The health impact of exposure to spilled oil and dispersants “has not been well-studied,” Aubrey Miller, of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, told the committee. He added that there is “a clear need for additional health monitoring and research to underpin” ways to respond to health concerns, CNN reported.

Also at the hearing, Food and Drug Administration Deputy Commissioner Mike Taylor said the agency is “confident” that Gulf of Mexico seafood currently available to consumers is safe to eat.

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FDA Web Site Offers Safety Reports on New Drugs

Safety reports on recently approved drugs and biologics will be offered online by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“These summaries will provide clear and useful information in a timely manner that can be used by providers and patients to make informed decisions about an individuals health,” Dr. Robert Ball, director of the Office of Biostatistics and Epidemiology in the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said in an agency news release.

The Web site will include summaries of FDA safety analyses on recently approved products, along with information about what measures the agency is taking to deal with any identified safety issues.

Initial reports on the site will provide information about drugs and biologics approved by the FDA since September 2007, including drugs used to treat infections, depression, and high blood pressure.

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McNeil Expands Odor-Related Recall of Medicines

A recall of certain medicines due to odor problems has been expanded by Johnson & Johnson’s McNeil Consumer Healthcare unit.

On Jan. 15, the company recalled a number of over-the-counter medicines due to consumer complaints about a moldy smell that caused nausea and sickness in some people, the Associated Press reported.

The expanded recall covers four lots of Benadryl Allergy Ultratablets and one lot of Extra Strength Tylenol that were distributed in the United States, Puerto Rico, Bermuda and Tobago.

The odor is from a chemical treatment on wooden pallets used to store and transport packaging materials for medications, the AP reported.

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FDA Warns Against Too Much Vitamin D For Infants

Some liquid vitamin D supplement products for infants are sold with droppers than could cause parents to give too much vitamin D to their babies, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned Tuesday.

Excessive vitamin D can harm infants and may cause problems such as nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, excessive thirst, constipation, frequent urination, abdominal pain, muscle weakness, sore joints and muscles, fatigue, as well as more serious issues such as kidney damage.

The recommended daily dose of vitamin D for breast-fed and partially breast-fed infants is 400 international units (IU), says the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The FDA told companies that make vitamin D supplements that droppers accompanying the products should be clearly and accurately marked for 400 IU and droppers in products intended for infants should hold no more than 400 IU.

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