Health Highlights: March 4, 2015
Second Hospital Reports Superbug Infections Linked to Endoscopes FDA Orders Heart Risk Warning Labels on Testosterone Drugs McDonald's Reducing Antibiotics in Chicken and Growth Hormones in Milk Two More NFL Veterans Will Donate Brains for Concussion Research
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Second Hospital Reports Superbug Infections Linked to Endoscopes
Four patients at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles were sickened by a "superbug" that has been linked to a type of medical scope, the Los Angeles-based hospital said Wednesday.
Just two weeks ago, Ronald Regan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles announced that seven patients were infected with the superbug after undergoing endoscopic procedures. Two died.
The news from Cedars-Sinai came the same day as ABC News reported that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said the endoscopes linked to the superbug infections at UCLA had been redesigned by the maker and were sold without approval.
In total, 179 patients may have been exposed to the CRE superbug at UCLA, according to the hospital.
Those cases were traced to two duodenoscopes, which are inserted into the mouth to access patients' small intestine, pancreas and liver. The scopes had only been in use since June and were cleaned according to manufacturer guidelines, hospital officials said.
Both scopes were made by Olympus Corp. The FDA says Olympus changed the design of the scopes and sold them without seeking permission to do so, ABC News reported.
Companies must notify the FDA of design changes 90 days before marketing redesigned devices, the FDA website says.
The FDA did not clarify what changes were made to the scopes or whether they could have increased the chances the scopes would be more difficult to clean or more likely to harbor bacteria, ABC News reported.
Officials at Cedars-Sinai said the hospital stopped all procedures using the endoscopes in question after learning about the UCLA outbreak and began its own investigation. The superbug may have been transmitted through a duodenoscope made by Olympus Corp., hospital officials said.
One patient died, but hospital officials said the cause was an underlying medical condition and not the superbug infection.
Cedars Sinai said that, as a precaution, it sent home-test kits to 71 patients who had procedures there to diagnose pancreatic and bile-duct problems.
FDA Orders Heart Risk Warning Labels on Testosterone Drugs
Testosterone-boosting drugs taken by millions of American men have never been proven to be safe or effective for treating aging-related problems such as low sex drive and fatigue, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says.
On Tuesday, the agency also said the drugs can increase the risk of heart attack and told manufacturers they must add that caution to the warning labels on the products, the Associated Press reported.
A similar warning about testosterone drugs was issued last summer by Canadian health officials.
The agency also told drug companies must clarify that the drugs are only approved to treat low testosterone levels caused by injury or disease.
For years, testosterone pills, patches, gels and injections have been marketed as treatments for low testosterone levels, and sales of the drugs have risen to more than $2 billion.
"There's been a very successful advertising campaign to make men feel that whatever their problem is, the answer is to buy more testosterone," Dr. Sidney Wolfe, of the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, told the AP.
Last February, the group petitioned the FDA to have testosterone drugs carry a boxed warning -- the most serious type -- about heart risks, but the FDA said there was "insufficient evidence" for such a warning and rejected the petition.
The FDA launched a safety review of testosterone drugs in January 2014 after two federal studies linked them with higher rates of serious problems such as heart attack and stroke. However, other studies have suggested an association between testosterone replacement and longevity, the AP reported.
Men's testosterone levels naturally decrease after age 40, but there is disagreement on whether this actually causes problems such as lower bone density and less energy.
McDonald's Reducing Antibiotics in Chicken and Growth Hormones in Milk
McDonald's says it will start using chickens that are free of certain antibiotics and milk from cows that aren't given the artificial growth hormone rbST.
Chicken suppliers will not be allowed to use antibiotics important to human health, but will be able to use ionophores, a type of antibiotic that keeps chickens healthy and isn't used in people, the Associated Press reported.
The milk change will occur later this year and the chicken change will take place within the next two years, according to the company.
"Our customers want food that they feel great about eating -- all the way from the farm to the restaurant -- and these moves take a step toward better delivering on those expectations," Mike Andres, head of McDonald's U.S.A., said in a statement, the AP reported.
Two More NFL Veterans Will Donate Brains for Concussion Research
Two more former NFL players say they'll donate their brains to science after they die in order to help researchers learn more about concussions and how to prevent them.
Former Seahawks wide receiver Sidney Rice and Giants punter Steve Weatherford said they want scientists to see the effects of the concussions they suffered while playing football, NBC News reported.
Rice believes he suffered 8 to 10 concussions while in the NFL, but said his first one occurred when he was just 8 years old.
He said teams are taking head injuries more seriously, but it can be hard to convince players to take themselves out of a game after suffering a hit to the head, NBC News reported.
"It's just the way we're brought up. I guess it's the culture," Rice said. "You feel like you have to be out there on the field. It's the competition that's instilled in you. You love it, you want to be out there, but it's very important that you pay attention to what goes on when you get a concussion."