Health Highlights: March 17, 2011

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

Recalled Pogo Sticks Pose Fall Hazard

About 169,000 pogo sticks are being recalled in the United States because they pose fall and laceration hazards to users, says the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The bottom of the Chinese-made pogo sticks’ frame tube can break or come apart, and a pin holding the spring in place can break. There have been 123 reports of incidents involving the pogo sticks, including nine reports of injuries such as a chipped tooth, a knocked-out tooth, and stitches.

The recall includes the Rocket Stick Pogo, Pop Stick Pogo, Monster Stick Pogo and Twin Stick Pogo distributed by Bravo Sports of Santa Fe Springs, Calif. Only pogo sticks with manufacturing data codes between 04/01/2010 – 046HE and 10/31/2010 – 046HE are included in the recall, said the CPSC.

For more information, contact Bravo Sports at the company’s Web site.


OTC Asthma Inhaler Will be Gone by Year’s End: FDA

The only over-the-counter asthma inhaler sold in the United States will be pulled from the market at the end of year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Wednesday.

It’s not that Primatene Mist inhalers aren’t effective, it’s that they are bad for the environment, the Washington Post reported. The inhalers contain chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which deplete the ozone. The U.S. is a partner in an international agreement to phase out CFCs.

The FDA said the advance notice should give people time to seek alternative asthma treatments, but also warned that supplies of Primatene Mist could run out before the end of the year.

Prescription asthma medications may cost more than Primatene Mist, so the FDA offers advice for people who may find it hard to pay for their new asthma medications, the Post reported.


Radiation Fears Lead to Shortage of Potassium Iodide in U.S.

Fears that radiation from Japan’s damaged nuclear power plants could reach the United States have led to a shortage of potassium iodide in the U.S., according to companies that supply the product.

Potassium iodide protects against radiation poisoning of the thyroid gland. Virginia-based Anbex Inc. sold out of its supply of more than 10,000 14-tablet packages on Saturday, company president Alan Morris told the Wall Street Journal.

The company was getting about three orders a minute, compared with as few as three a week normally. “Those who don’t get it are crying. They’re terrified,” Morris said.

“It’s actually been insanity here,” Deborah Fleming, co-owner of Fleming Pharmaceuticals in St. Louis County, told the Wall Street Journal. She estimates the company is getting dozens of calls an hour, along with emails, from people seeking potassium iodide.

But government officials say there’s no cause for alarm. For example, no harmful levels of radiation have been detected in California and Washington state and no dangerous levels are expected to occur.

“Japan has an evacuation area of about 12 miles from the nuclear plants. Washington state is 5,000 to 6,000 miles away from Japan,” Tim Church, a spokesman for the Washington State Department of Health, told the Wall Street Journal.