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Health Highlights: Jan. 4, 2012

Unpublished Drug Study Findings Could Harm Patients: Journal Enfamil Infant Formula Back on Store Shelves Experts Rank Best Weight-Loss Diets U.S. Drug Shortages Reached Record High in 2011

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

Unpublished Drug Study Findings Could Harm Patients: Journal

A disturbing number of drug studies are being suppressed by researchers and this lack of public data could threaten patient safety, the BMJ journal warns.

The U.K. medical journal noted that one study found that the results of fewer than half of drug trials paid for by the U.S. National Institutes of Health were published in a scientific journal within 30 months of the completion of the trial, the Associated Press reported.

The NIH spends about $3.5 billion sponsoring more than 100,000 clinical trials worldwide.

Previous research has found that the results of between one quarter and one half of clinical trials are unpublished for various reasons, the AP reported.


Enfamil Infant Formula Back on Store Shelves

Three major U.S. retailers have started restocking 12.5-ounce cans of Enfamil powdered infant formula after federal officials last week said the product is safe and clear of bacteria linked to Cronobacter infections that occurred in four infants in Florida, Illinois, Missouri and Oklahoma.

Walgreen Co., Kroger Co. and Supervalu Inc. removed the formula from their stores nationwide in December after a 10-day-old Missouri baby who consumed the product died from a bacterial infection, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The precautionary move was made while the companies awaited test results from federal regulators.

On Friday, the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said factory-sealed containers of the formula showed no signs of contamination. The FDA said it is continuing to investigate the four infant infections, WSJ reported.


Experts Rank Best Weight-Loss Diets

Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, the Mediterranean Diet, Slim Fast and Volumetrics are the easiest diets to follow, according to the second annual Best Diets rankings released Wednesday by U.S. News & World Report.

For this year's rankings, 22 diet and nutrition experts reviewed and rated 25 diets on seven criteria, including their ability to help people achieve short- and long-term weight loss. There were seven categories.

The DASH diet came first in Best Diets Overall, Best Diets for Healthy Eating, and tied with the Biggest Loser Diet for first in Best Diabetes Diets.

Weight Watchers was first in Best Weight-Loss Diets, Best Commercial Diet Plans, and Easiest Diets to Follow.

The Ornish Diet came first in Best Heart-Health Diets.


U.S. Drug Shortages Reached Record High in 2011

The number of newly-reported prescription drug shortages in the United States last year hit a record high of 267, an increase of 56 over 2010, according to figures just released by the University of Utah Drug Information Service.

The total for 2011 is more than four times higher than the 58 drug shortages reported in 2004, ABC News said.

The increasing number of drugs in short supply is having a growing impact on patient care, particularly among hospitalized patients.

Shortages of vital medicines have disrupted chemotherapy for cancer patients, as well as surgery and care for patients with infections and pain, according to ABC News.


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