Health Highlights: Aug. 25, 2010

Traffic Crashes Cost $99 Billion Annually: Report Millions Of Seniors May Have To Change Medicare Drug Plans: Analysis Mr. Magic Male Enhancer Capsules Pose Health Risk: FDA FDA Issues Proposed Guidelines For Restaurant Nutrition Labeling FDA Not Backing Vaccine That Protects Hens in UK from Salmonella: Report 'Tootsie Tanner' Radiation Can Harm Skin, Eyes: FDA

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

Traffic Crashes Cost $99 Billion Annually: Report

The annual cost of medical care and lost productivity associated with injuries from motor vehicle crashes in the United States is more than $99 billion, which works out to nearly $500 for each licensed driver, says a federal government study.

The yearly cost of direct medical care associated with traffic crashes is $17 billion, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analysis of 2005 data.

They found that the annual costs of fatal and non-fatal crash-related injuries is $70 billion for people in cars and light trucks, $12 billion for motorcyclists, $10 billion for pedestrians, and $5 billion for bicyclists.

"Every 10 seconds, someone in the United States is treated in an emergency department for crash-related injuries, and nearly 40,000 people die from these injuries each year. This study highlights the magnitude of the problem of crash-related injuries from a cost perspective, and the numbers are staggering," Dr. Grant Baldwin, director of CDC's Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, said in a CDC news release.


Millions Of Seniors May Have To Change Medicare Drug Plans: Analysis

Millions of American seniors may be forced to switch their Medicare drug plans next year due to a plan designed to make it simpler for people to select drug coverage, according to an analysis by private research firm Avalere Health.

The company estimates that prescription drug plans for more than three million Medicare beneficiaries will be eliminated under Medicare's efforts to reduce duplicative coverage and offer seniors better choices, the Associated Press reported.

Those beneficiaries wouldn't lose coverage but could see changes in their premiums and copayments, according to Avalere.

Medicare officials were quick to dismiss the company's analysis.

"Anybody who is producing this kind of analysis is simply guessing," Jonathan Blum, deputy administrator for Medicare, told the AP.


Mr. Magic Male Enhancer Capsules Pose Health Risk: FDA

A product called Mr. Magic Male Enhancer from Don Wands has been recalled because it contains an undeclared drug ingredient that could pose a health risk to men who take the capsules, says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The agency said lab tests show that Mr. Magic contains hydroxythiohomosildenafil and sulfoaildenafil, an analogue of Sildenafil, which is an FDA-approved drug used as treatment for male Erectile Dysfunction (ED). These ingredients mean that Mr. Magic is an unapproved drug.

The analogue in Mr. Magic may interact with nitrates in some prescription drugs (such as nitroglycerin) and cause blood pressure to drop to dangerous levels, the FDA warned. People with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or heart disease often take nitrates.

The recall includes lot numbers 9041401, 251209 and 8121904.


FDA Issues Proposed Guidelines For Restaurant Nutrition Labeling

Proposed guidelines to help restaurants comply with new federal food labeling requirements were released Tuesday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The new regulations are part of the new health-care legislation and apply to food chains and vending machines, the Wall Street Journal reported.

They'll be required to post the amount of calories in standard items on their menus and menus boards. In addition, consumers who request it must be provided with additional nutritional information, such as levels of sodium, saturated fat, cholesterol, sugars, fiber, total carbohydrates and total protein.

The FDA said it understands that companies require time to comply with the new regulations and said it will not enforce the rules for a period of time that's yet to be determined, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The agency is seeking the public's opinion on an appropriate length of time for that grace period.


FDA Not Backing Vaccine That Protects Hens in UK from Salmonella: Report

In the midst of a massive recall of eggs due to salmonella, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is being criticized for not making it mandatory for American farmers to vaccinate their hens against the bacteria.

New egg safety rules that took effect last month do not include vaccinating hens against salmonella, a measure that would add less than a penny to the cost of a dozen eggs. The FDA said there wasn't enough evidence to show that such a vaccination program would prevent people from getting sick, The New York Times reported.

But critics point to Britain, where the practice of farmers vaccinating their hens against salmonella began more than a decade ago. Last year, England and Wales had 581 reported cases of the most common type of salmonella (Salmonella Enteritidis PT4), a drop of 96 percent from 1997.

"We have pretty much eliminated salmonella as a human problem in the U.K.," Amanda Cryer, director of the British Egg Information Service, an industry group, told The Times.

The current egg recall is one of the largest ever and involves nearly 550 million eggs from two Iowa producers. Nationwide, thousands of cases of salmonella in humans have been traced to eggs contaminated with the bacteria.

The vaccine reduces the number of hens that get infected with salmonella and also makes it less likely that an infected hen will pass the bacteria into her eggs.

Vaccines "are the only thing Im aware of that really controls the problem from the inside out, at the source," Ronald Plylar, the former president of a company that developed an early salmonella vaccine, told The Times.

There's a strong belief within the American egg industry that the current outbreak and recall will force nearly all U.S. egg producers to begin vaccinating their hens in order to reassure consumers.


'Tootsie Tanner' Radiation Can Harm Skin, Eyes: FDA

People using the Tootsie Tanner portable foot tanning device are at risk for an overdose of ultraviolet (UV) radiation that may cause immediate and delayed serious skin and eye injuries, warns the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The label on the device says it can be used for 30 minutes and the timer control permits 30-minute exposures. However, FDA testing indicates a maximum exposure of 20 minutes.

In addition, the product fails to display prominent warnings about the need for protective eyewear, the agency said.

The FDA sent a warning letters to Texas-based manufacturer IPCH but since learned that the company is no longer in business. This means that there will be no refunds available for the estimated 3,000 devices sold and the devices will not be replaced or updated with the correct labeling.

Individuals and businesses who own these devices should stop using them, remove the lamps and safely discard all components according to local environmental standards, the FDA recommended.

To date, the FDA has not received any reports of injuries associated with the Tootsie Tanner device.


Consumer News