Health Highlights: May 9, 2012

Health Care Costs Top $240,000 for Retired Couples: Report Two Proposed Diagnoses Dropped From Psychiatric Diagnostic Manual Diamond Pet Foods Expands Recall Senate Committee Examines Painkiller Makers' Financial Ties Amped Is Newest Type of 'Bath Salts' Drug

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

Health Care Costs Top $240,000 for Retired Couples: Report

American couples retiring this year can expect their medical bills throughout retirement to cost about $240,000, which is about four percent more than the $230,000 needed by those who retired last year, says an annual projection released Wednesday by Fidelity Investments.

The new estimate is based on a 65-year-old couple retiring with Medicare coverage, and factors in the federal program's premiums, co-payments, deductibles and out-of-pocket prescription drug costs, the Associated Press reported.

The projection assumes the couple does not have insurance from their former employers and is based on a life expectancy of 85 for women and 82 for men. It doesn't include the costs of dental services or long-term care, such as the expense of living in a nursing home.

The most recent estimate could change significantly depending on the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling next month on whether to strike down part or all of the 2010 health care law. Depending on the ruling, Fidelity may update its estimate, the AP reported.


Two Proposed Diagnoses Dropped From Psychiatric Diagnostic Manual

Two controversial proposals that would have expanded the number of people diagnosed with psychotic or depressive disorders have been scrapped by an expert panel revising an influential psychiatric diagnostic manual.

The panel working to complete the fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders said the two proposed diagnoses were not supported by evidence, The New York Times reported.

The two rejected diagnoses were: attenuated psychosis syndrome, proposed to identify people at risk of developing psychosis; and mixed anxiety depressive disorder, a hybrid of anxiety and depression.

The panel also refined their proposed definition of depression so that the normal sadness a person experiences after the loss of loved one, marriage or job would not be mistaken for a mental health problem, The Times reported.

However, the panel did not back down from another widely criticized move to streamline the definition of autism. Critics say the new definition could greatly reduce the number of people diagnosed with autism, but panel members say evidence from a newly completed study shows that's not the case.

The changes to the diagnostic manual -- which plays a major role in research, treatment and insurance decisions -- are being debated this week at the psychiatric association's annual meeting, The Times reported.


Diamond Pet Foods Expands Recall

A recall of some Diamond Pet Foods dog food brands has been expanded after a salmonella outbreak linked to the products sickened 14 people in nine states.

On its official website for the recall, the company added dog food under the Country Value, Diamond, Premium Edge, Professional, 4Health, and Taste of the Wild brands with a 2 or 3 in the 9th position of the production code and an X in the 10th or 11th position, CBS News reported.

These recalled products have "best before" dates between Dec. 9, 2012 and April 7, 2013 and were distributed in a number of states as well as parts of Canada.

The company previously recalled Diamond Naturals (particularly the Lamb & Rice dry dog formula), Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul Adult Light Formula, and Diamond Puppy Formula, CBS News reported.

Some companies that co-manufacture with Diamond Pet Foods have also yanked their products from the market, including Natural Balance, Kirkland Signature/Kirkland Signature Nature's Domain, Apex Pet Foods, Canidae Pet Foods, and one type of Wellness Complete Health puppy food.


Senate Committee Examines Painkiller Makers' Financial Ties

The U.S. Senate Finance Committee has launched an investigation into the financial links between companies that make prescription painkillers and pain experts, patient advocacy groups and organizations that create guidelines on how doctors use the drugs.

Two senior senators on the committee say they opened the inquiry to determine if doctors and patients are receiving accurate and unbiased information about the risks of benefits of prescription painkillers, The New York Times reported.

"Overdoses on narcotic painkillers have become epidemic and it's becoming clear that patients aren't getting a full and clear picture of the risks posed by their medications," Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana, said in a statement.

"The problem of opioid abuse is bad and getting worse," Senator Charles E. Grassley added in a statement, The Times reported.


Amped Is Newest Type of 'Bath Salts' Drug

A new type of synthetic drug called Amped is being used by people in Virginia to get high, according to state officials.

It's likely that people in other parts of the United States are also using the drug, which is touted as a ladybug attractant and falls into the street category of "bath salts," according to ABC News.

There have been at least six reported cases of people ingesting the chemical compound in Eastern and Central Virginia, Virginia Poison Center Director Dr. Rutherfoord Rose said.

Bath salts -- which are often disguised as incense, plant foods and cleaners -- have amphetamine-like qualities and boost blood pressure and heart rate. Amped is the latest of these types of drugs to be sold on the Web and in convenience stores, ABC News reported.

"Despite laws that have outlawed certain chemicals within these drugs, chemists easily change a chemical or molecule within the compound to give it a similar or more potent property, and, because it is a different chemical entity, it is no longer illegal," Rose said.


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