Health Highlights: Oct. 24, 2011

Government Studies Suggest Chantix Doesn't Raise Risk of Psychiatric Problems Fresh & Easy Bagged Spinach Recalled Target Recalls Children's Frog Masks GPS-Equipped Shoes for Dementia Patients Bath Salt Chemicals Banned by DEA

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

Government Studies Suggest Chantix Doesn't Raise Risk of Psychiatric Problems

After spending several years investigating reports that taking Chantix might raise the risk of depression and suicidal thoughts, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Monday that two federally funded studies found no increase in psychiatric hospitalizations among those using the smoking-cessation drug.

Federal health officials stressed, however, that these findings are not definitive since they only involved hospitalizations and many mental health issues may have been missed, the Associated Press reported.

The FDA said it is continuing to look at the safety of Chantix, and patients should talk with their doctors if they experience side effects with the drug. Pfizer Inc., the maker of Chantix, is conducting its own large-scale study of possible behavioral side effects with Chantix, but the results won't be available until 2017, the AP reported.

In the United States alone, almost 9 million people have been prescribed Chantix since it was approved in May 2006. It already carries a boxed warning that lists possible side effects including hostility, agitation, depression and suicidal thoughts and behavior.


Fresh & Easy Bagged Spinach Recalled

Possible listeria contamination has prompted the recall of f&e brand bagged Washed Spinach sold at Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market stores in Arizona, California and Nevada.

The recalled products have the "enjoy by" data of October 16, the Associated Press reported.

Only one bag tested positive for listeria and no illnesses have been reported, according to Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market Inc. of El Segundo, Calif.

Consumers who want more information can call 800-648-8622, the AP reported.


Target Recalls Children's Frog Masks

About 3,400 children's frog masks being recalled by Target Corp. carry a potential risk of suffocation because they lack proper ventilation when secured across a child's face.

No injuries have been reported in connection with the plush masks, which were sold from August through September for about $1, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Associated Press reported.

Consumers are advised to return the masks to any Target store for a full refund. The UPC code on the recalled masks is 06626491474.

For more information, call Target at (800) 440-0680 or go to the company's website.


GPS-Equipped Shoes for Dementia Patients

Shoes that contain built-in GPS devices that can help locate dementia patients who wander away and become lost will appear on the U.S. market this month, according to manufacturer GTX Corp.

The company said the first shipment of 3,000 pairs of shoes has been sent to footwear firm Aetrex Worldwide, Agence France-Presse reported.

The GPS-equipped shoes, which will sell for about $300 a pair, could help save lives, according to Andrew Carle, a George Mason University professor who was an consultant on the project.

"It's especially important for people in the earliest stages of Alzheimer's who are at the highest risk," he told AFP. "They might be living in their home but they're confused. They go for a walk and they can get lost for days."


Bath Salt Chemicals Banned by DEA

Three synthetic stimulants used to make recreational drugs called "bath salts" have been banned by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

The emergency action announced Friday places mephedrone, methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) and methylone under the DEA's most restrictive category for at least a year while the agency determines whether they should be permanently banned, The New York Times reported.

"These chemicals pose a direct and significant threat, regardless of how they are marketed, and we will aggressively pursue those who attempt their manufacture and sale," DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart said in a news release.

Bath salts, which mimic the effects of cocaine, LSD and methamphetamine, are sold at head shops and on websites, The Times reported.


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