VEPACHEDU EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATION
American Food Industry
The United States is a tempting scapegoat for the global obesity epidemic. Its worst behaviors and foods, even its language for them "Supersize me! Want fries with that?" have permeated the world's diet and lexicon. America has glamorized consumption and the world eagerly bought into that according to the International Obesity Task Force. Food has replaced cigarettes as the cool must-have American accessory. This Americanization of the global culinary landscape no doubt contributed to the fattening of the world. In the global give and take, it seems only fair that the blame for bloating the world go to the nation that gave it rivers of Coke, mountains of Big Macs and an endless fitness-quashing entertainment feed from Hollywood. America has been a contributing cause in what is a very complex disease. But many obesity experts say it's hard to know where to place the blame. Even the growth in portion size, though certainly popularized by America, may have European roots. The bigger-is-better mentality was allegedly exported to the United States from Central Europe, where it is associated with hospitality. However, the power of the American food industry to influence government policy of the United States, which has been imposed worldwide, is the real culprit, reports AP.
A Cocktail Made in India
The successful cocktail that the World Health Organization has been recommending in poor countries since 2002, is also the same combination that Indian suppliers of generic drugs have been putting in three-in-one pills since 2001. A study published in the April 29 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, looked for an ideal regimen for new patients that avoided protease inhibitors. The failed cocktail is the only one made as a three-in-one pill by any Western pharmaceutical company, GlaxoSmithKline as a three-in-one pill under the name Trizivir. AIDS experts said that the three-in-one pills offered by generic drug makers from India were better for new patients than any of those sold or planned by Western drug companies. Most three-in-one pills now made by Indian generics makers contain two nucleoside drugs AZT and lamivudine and one non-nucleoside nevirapine. The N.I.H. guidelines prefer non-nucleoside efavirenz because it causes fewer rashes, but accept nevirapine as a substitute. Nevirapine is in the same class as efavirenz and a recent study in Lancet found them to be equivalent.
Carpeting Saves Hips
Fractured hips are a serious health problem for the elderly. Well over a million such fractures occur around the world each year. A report that appears in the current issue of Age and Ageing, suggests that falls on carpeted wooden floors were 80 percent less likely to fracture the hip of an elderly person than falls on all other surfaces.
Morning after Pill
The Canadian government announced plans to make the morning after birth control pill more widely available without a prescription to give timely access to emergency contraceptives for women and help prevent unwanted pregnancies. The move comes weeks after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration decided to keep the pill on its list of prescription drugs.
A new experimental stent that releases everolimus appears safe and effective for preventing arteries from re-closing in coronary heart disease patients, reported in the May 4th rapid access issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association. The small study compared standard stents, metal mesh tubes used to keep vessels open after balloon angioplasty, with a new stent coated with the drug everolimus in a biodegradable polymer. Everolimus is an immunosuppressant and an antiproliferation agent similar to sirolimus, one of two drugs used for coating stents that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved last year. Everolimus has shown promise at preventing heart and kidney rejection after transplantation. It acts by inhibiting cell reproduction and reducing cell growth. In another study using drug sirolimus in the same journal, drug-eluting stents significantly reduced the risk of recurring blockages in arteries of diabetic patients compared to bare metal stents. The drug sirolimus works by inhibiting cell proliferation and scar formation inside the stent.
Cholesterol Drug Without Prescription in Britain
Simvastatin belongs to a class of drugs called statins, considered a powerful weapon against the buildup of fat deposits that clogs arteries, leading to heart attacks and strokes. Health officials said a low-dose version of simvastatin, marketed as Zocor by Merck and Co will be available without a prescription at pharmacies across the UK starting later this year, in a bid to prevent heart attacks and strokes. No date was announced. Britain will be the first country to permit nonprescription sales of a cholesterol-busting drug. Over-the-counter version of simvastatin will be produced by Johnson & Johnson.MSD, a British joint venture of Johnson & Johnson and Merck's U.K. subsidiary Merck, Sharpe and Dohme Ltd.
BMS Pulls Off Serzone
BMS pulls Serzone, the controversial antidepressant, off the U.S. market next month. The end to U.S. sales comes after Serzone was pulled off the market in many other countries, and as maker Bristol-Myers Squibb was under mounting pressure from lawsuits. Serzone has been linked to dozens of cases of liver failure and injury, including at least 20 deaths.
FDA Approves Bone Marrow Medication
The bone marrow produces blood cells. Myelodysplastic syndrome, or MDS is a precancerous condition in which DNA damage inside bone marrow stem cells blocks their function and results in not enough normal blood cells being produced. Common treatments include transfusions of blood or platelets and antibiotics to fight infection. A new drug, called Vidaza, the first drug to treat a bone marrow disease that can lead to leukemia, is thought to bring some patients into remission by correcting the DNA damage so proper blood-cell production can resume. FDA has approved sale of Vidaza, made by Pharmion Corp. of Boulder, Colorado.
FDA Approves Zemplar(R)
Abbott Laboratories announced on May 27 that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Zemplar(R) (paricalcitol injection) for use in children and adolescent hemodialysis patients, ages 5 to 19, with secondary hyperparathyroidism (SHPT). Zemplar initially was introduced in 1998 and currently is used to treat SHPT in the majority of adult dialysis patients in the United States. Patients with kidney failure are unable to produce the active form of vitamin D. As a result, many dialysis patients have vitamin D deficiency and develop SHPT, a disorder that causes bone disease and can affect many organs and tissues, including the bones, red blood cells, heart, nerves and muscles. Approximately 1,400 American children between the ages of 5 and 19 undergo hemodialysis.
FDA Approves Gonal-f(R) RFF Pen
Serono, Inc., the US affiliate of Serono, Switzerland, announced on May 27 that the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a prefilled device that delivers a new liquid formulation of the most prescribed gonadotropin in the world: Gonal-f(R) RFF Pen (follitropin alfa injection). Gonal-f(R) RFF Pen is the first and only prefilled and ready-to-use multi-dose FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) in the US. It will be available in three sizes that deliver either 300 IU, 450 IU or 900 IU of liquid Gonal-f(R) filled-by-mass, which can be administered in multiple doses. Developed to make infertility treatment easier, it provides patients with a new way to administer Gonal-f(R) by simply dialing the correct dose without the need to mix medication or load cartridges. It was designed specifically for the treatment of infertility to allow patients to easily and accurately deliver a precise daily dose of medication.
Taxotere for Men
The American Cancer Society estimates that some 230,900 American men will be diagnosed and 29,900 will die with prostate cancer this year. The Food and Drug Administration ruled that Taxotere could help men with advanced prostate cancer live a little longer. Taxotere made by Aventis Pharmaceuticals of Bridgewater, N.J. known chemically as docetaxel, is a drug that women have long used to battle breast cancer. It is also used against lung cancer. The drug, used together with the steroid prednisone, becomes the first treatment that FDA deems potentially life lengthening for men whose advanced prostate cancer doesn't respond to hormone therapy.
Insulin for Cancer
It is long known that obesity, inactivity and starchy diets increase the risk of diabetes. The same risk factors contribute to colon cancer also. Evidence increasingly points to excess insulin. Insulin regulates more than just blood sugar. It also controls growth, including the disorderly cell division that can lead to tumors. Obesity, which damages virtually every system of the body, could lead to cancer in a number of ways. But experts agree that an association between obesity, insulin and colon cancer, if proven, could have major significance.
Demand for a Ban on Hydrogenated Oils
Partially hydrogenated vegetable oils are a common source of artery-clogging trans fat. Manufacturers use such oils to give their products longer shelf lives and maintain flavor. The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer advocacy group petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to ban the use of partially hydrogenated vegetable oils as processed food ingredients.
Threat to the Sunscreen Industry
Hippopotamus is famous for its luxurious mud-pack skin treatments in the hot sun. New research shows that the hippopotamus produces a sunscreen every time it sweats. Wipe a hippo's face, and you get something akin to sweat. Sure, it's not produced by sweat glands like human sweat. But nevertheless, it serves the same purpose. Like sweat, it helps control a hippo's body temperature. When the stuff is fresh, it is colorless like sweat. But in hippos, the mucus gradually turns red, then brown. The pigments are in the ultraviolet range, indicating that they "may act as sunscreens". The red pigment also acts as an antibiotic, protecting the hippo's skin from infections. These pigments become unstable and turn into solid, brown gunk within a few hours. When the secret factor in the hippo's mucus that keeps the stuff from changing is found, hippo sweat may pose threat to the sunscreen industry. The study appears in Nature.
Bezafibrate, a drug used mainly to treat high triglycerides, may also prevent or slow the onset of type 2 diabetes in coronary artery disease patients, according to research published in rapid access issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association. The drug was associated with about a 30 percent reduction in diabetes onset in patients with coronary artery disease.
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