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Health Highlights: Jan. 12, 2012

HHS Challenges Health Insurance Premium Increases in 5 States Fungicide in OJ Spotted First by Coca-Cola, Company Says Red Wine Researcher Accused of Scientific Fraud Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Chicken Livers Is Over: CDC J&J; Unit Warned Over Faulty Insulin Pump: FDA

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

HHS Challenges Health Insurance Premium Increases in 5 States

Trustmark Life Insurance Company health insurance premium increases in five states are "unreasonable," the U.S. government says.

"It's time for Trustmark to immediately rescind the rates, issue refunds to consumers or publicly explain their refusal to do so," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a news release issued Thursday.

After an independent expert review, the Department of Health and Human Services concluded that the company unreasonable hiked health insurance premium by 13 percent in Alabama, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wyoming.

The "excessive rate hikes" would affect nearly 10,000 people in those states, according to HHS.

Under the new health care law, insurance companies are required to disclose rate increases over 10 percent and justify those increases.


Fungicide in OJ Spotted First by Coca-Cola, Company Says

Coca-Cola Co. says it discovered the fungicide carbendazim in some orange juice products and alerted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The company tested its own and competitors' products but did not say which ones contained the fungicide, which is not approved for use in the U.S. Coca-Cola's orange juice products include Minute Maid and Simply Orange, while Pepsico Inc. has the Tropicana brand, the Associated Press reported.

The fungicide is used in Brazil, the biggest producer of oranges in the world. Most orange juice products contain a blend of juice from different sources, including Brazil.

The low levels of carbendazim found in the orange juice products aren't a safety risk, according to the FDA. But the agency said it will increase testing to make sure the contamination isn't a problem, the AP reported.


Red Wine Researcher Accused of Scientific Fraud

An American researcher whose work reported on health benefits associated with red wine has been accused of scientific fraud involving 26 articles published in 11 journals.

The University of Connecticut's charge against one of its researchers, Dipak K. Das, comes after an investigation that began in January 2009, The New York Times reported.

A special review board was formed after the university received an anonymous allegation about research irregularities in Das's lab. The board produced a 60,000-page report that says Das's published research articles contained 145 instances of fabrication and falsification of data.

The review board's report has been sent to the federal Office of Research Integrity, which investigates fraud by researchers who receive government grants, The Times reported.


Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Chicken Livers Is Over: CDC

A multi-state outbreak of Salmonella Heidelberg infections linked to kosher broiled chicken livers from Schreiber Processing Corporation of Maspeth, N.Y. appears to be over, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A total of 190 illnesses were reported in six states -- 109 in New York, 62 in New Jersey, 10 in Pennsylvania, 6 in Maryland, 2 in Ohio and 1 in Minnesota.

The chicken livers were recalled from grocery stores but people may still have them in their homes, the CDC said.

The agency advised consumers to check their homes for the recalled chicken livers. No one should eat them and restaurant and food service operators should not serve them.


J&J Unit Warned Over Faulty Insulin Pump: FDA

A unit of Johnson & Johnson could face fines and other penalties for selling faulty insulin pumps and failing or delaying to disclose serious injuries suffered by patients who used the devices, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says.

An FDA warning letter sent to J&J's Animas Corp. and posted on the agency's website says the West Chester Pa. company never reported one case of serious patient injury caused by a defective insulin pump and delayed reporting two other cases, the Associated Press reported.

All three patients were hospitalized with dangerously high blood sugar, respiratory failure and coma, and a potentially deadly complication called diabetic ketoacidosis, which occurs when there's a lack of insulin to break down sugar.

The FDA ordered Animas to immediately provide a plan to correct its failure to report within the required 30 days cases where a device may have caused or contributed to serious injury or death, the AP reported.

If the company does not immediately correct the violations, it could face fines, injunction, seizure, and lose contract awards from federal agencies, the FDA said.

Animas' spokeswoman told the AP that the company is "dedicated to quickly resolving the FDA's outstanding concerns."


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