Health Highlights: July 22, 2014
Judge Says FDA Can't Use Panel's Report on Menthols Videotaping Ob/Gyn Costs Hopkins $190 Million
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Judge Says FDA Can't Use Panel's Report on Menthols
A 2011 expert advisory panel's report on menthol cigarettes can't be used by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration because some panel members have conflicts of interest, a federal judge ruled on Monday.
The FDA conducted an independent review of the impact on public health of menthol cigarettes since the 2011 report, but the judge's new ruling could undermine any future efforts by the agency to regulate the products, the Associated Press said.
In his decision, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon in Washington directed the FDA to reconstitute the expert committee and to ignore the prior report.
The decision is a win for tobacco companies: In 2011, Lorillard Inc. and Reynolds American Inc. sued the FDA, claiming panel members had bias and conflicts of interest, the AP said.
The companies said that some panel members had previously been paid expert witnesses in anti-tobacco lawsuits and had financial links to drug companies that manufacture smoking-cessation products.
The FDA countered those claims, calling the allegations against advisors on the panel "entirely speculative," the AP said.
The 2011 review conducted by the panel found that there was enough data to support the notion that menthol cigarettes boost smoking initiation among younger people, and that quitting smoking might be tougher for people who smoke menthols.
Videotaping Ob/Gyn Costs Hopkins $190 Million
Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore has settled a sexual misconduct case involving a secret-camera-wielding gynecologist and 8,000 unsuspecting female patients for $190 million, the Associated Press reported.
Lawyers said Dr. Nikita Levy, fired in February 2013, wore a camera disguised as a pen around his neck and secretly videotaped and photographed women in the examining room, according to the AP.
Another employee of the Baltimore hospital employee brought concerns about Levy's behavior to hospital authorities who insisted Levy surrender his camera. Ten days later, he killed himself. It was reported that about 1,200 videos and 140 images were stored on servers in his home.
"All of these women were brutalized by this," said the women's lead attorney, Jonathan Schochor, the AP reported. "Some of these women needed counseling, they were sleepless, they were dysfunctional in the workplace, they were dysfunctional at home, they were dysfunctional with their mates. This breach of trust, this betrayal - this is how they felt."
The women's faces weren't visible in the image, and investigators said they found no evidence that Levy had transmitted the images to others.