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Health Highlights: March 19, 2013

Doctors Urge FDA to Take Action on Energy Drinks Bioethics Panel Gives Cautious OK to Testing Anthrax Vaccine in Kids ProtiDiet High Protein Bars Recalled New Law Would Force NYC Stores to Keep Cigarettes Out of View Medical Products Recalled Due to Mold

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

Doctors Urge FDA to Take Action on Energy Drinks

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration should take action to protect children and teens from the possible risks of consuming large amounts of caffeine contained in energy drinks, says a group of 18 doctors, public health experts and researchers.

In their letter to the FDA, the group said energy drink makers have failed to prove that the ingredients used in their products are safe. Because of this, the group said the FDA should limit caffeine content in the beverages and force makers to include caffeine content on product labels, The New York Times reported.

"There is evidence in the published scientific literature that the caffeine levels in energy drinks pose serious potential health risks," the group's letter said.

The letter also noted that energy drink manufacturers aggressively market their products to teens and urge them to consume the drinks quickly, The Times reported.

Energy drink makers insist their products are safe.


Bioethics Panel Gives Cautious OK to Testing Anthrax Vaccine in Kids

Children should be allowed to take part in clinical trials for vaccines and other treatments to protect against bioterrorism attacks only if there is "minimal risk" that is no worse than a checkup at a doctor's office, according to a report by the President's Bioethics Commission.

"Research involving children is ethically distinct from research on adults," said commission chairwoman Amy Gutmann, USA Today reported.

She noted that, morally and legally, children cannot give consent to volunteer for medical experiments. However, biodefense officials say that without testing these treatments on children, doctors won't know if they are giving safe or effective doses of them to youngsters in the event of a bioterrorism attack, such as one involving anthrax.

The federal government has large stockpiles of treatments for biological, chemical, radiation or nuclear attacks, but "a high percentage of them haven't been tested at all for how they should be given to children," said Steven Krug, chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics' disaster preparedness advisory council, USA Today reported.

Among its recommendations, the commission said children should only be included in clinical trials of bioterrorism treatments if previous studies have shown a lack of serious side effects in animals and adults.

In addition, testing should first be done on older teens ages 16-17, who more closely resemble adults, before testing is conducted on younger children. The commission also said money should be set aside to compensate children and teens who suffer side effects from the clinical trials, USA Today reported.


ProtiDiet High Protein Bars Recalled

Certain batches of ProtiDiet High Protein Chocolate Dream Bars have been recalled due to possible salmonella contamination, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says.

The recalled bars were sold via the Internet and distributed in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia.

They were sold in 210 gram (7.4 oz.) packages, 7 bars per package, bearing UPC 6 21498 42238 1, lot code CR 18 13B, and Best Before date of 2015-08, the FDA said.

Consumers with these products should throw them out or return them to the place of purchase. To date, there have been no reports of illnesses associated with the bars, made by Pro-Amino International, Inc., Quebec, Canada.


New Law Would Force NYC Stores to Keep Cigarettes Out of View

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is proposing a law that would require stores to keep cigarettes out of public sight and increase penalties for illegal sales and smuggling of cigarettes.

At a news conference Monday, Bloomberg said the proposal would make New York the first city in the nation to keep tobacco products out of sight, The New York Times reported.

Just last week, a judge blocked Bloomberg's proposed ban on large-sized sugary beverages, but the city is appealing the ruling.

The proposed cigarette law will go to city council for its consideration. That was not done with the sugary drink ban, which went through only the city's board of health. The new proposal could meet heavy opposition from small stores where cigarettes account for a large percentage of sales, The Times reported.


Medical Products Recalled Due to Mold

Potential mold contamination has led to a recall of all medical products compounded at Med Prep Consulting, Inc. in New Jersey.

The recall was announced by Med Prep after a Connecticut hospital notified the company that mold had been found in one of its products, according to a U.S. Food and Drug Administration news release.

The affected products are used by hospitals and health care professionals at doctor's practices or clinics. None of the products are sold directly to patients at retail stores or to home care patients.

The products packaged in plastic infusion bags, plastic infusion devices, plastic syringes and glass vials were shipped directly to regional hospital pharmacies in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Delaware. Products packaged in plastic syringes only were distributed nationwide to doctor's practices and clinics, the FDA said.

All facilities that received the recalled Med Prep products have been notified and instructed to remove and return the product to the company.

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