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Health Highlights: Sept. 24, 2010

Glass Flakes Trigger Recall of Amgen Anemia Drugs Recalled Baby Formula Poses Little Risk, Manufacturer Says Clean Out Medicine Cabinet This Weekend: DEA Medicare Beneficiaries in 'Donut Hole' Get 50% Drug Discount in 2011 Many HIV-Positive Men Unaware They're Infected: Study

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

Glass Flakes Trigger Recall of Amgen Anemia Drugs

Certain lots of the anemia drugs Epogen and Procrit have been recalled because they may contain glass flakes, says California-based biotechnology company Amgen.

The flakes result from interaction of the drugs with glass vials, according to the company, the Associated Press reported.

In most cases, the flakes are barely visible and there have been no complaints or reports about problems that can be directly linked to the glass flakes, Amgen said.

The Web sites for the drugs contain information about the lot numbers and expiration dates of the recalled products, the AP reported.

Epogen is used to treat anemia in kidney failure patients who are on dialysis, and Procrit treats anemia in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy and in some patients with HIV.


Recalled Baby Formula Poses Little Risk, Manufacturer Says

The maker of Similac says it's unlikely any recalled containers of the baby formula are tainted by insects, and doctors say the risk of serious harm is low even if babies do consume bug-tainted formula.

Abbott Nutrition announced the voluntary recall of five million cans and plastic containers of Similac powdered formula after common warehouse beetles were found near a production line at its Sturgis, Mich., plant late last week, the Associated Press reported.

Production was immediately halted and tests conducted on containers of formula from that production line showed that "99.8 percent of product was not contaminated," according to company spokeswoman Kelly Morrison.

One doctor told the AP that there's "no reason for parents to panic."

Even if a baby consumes bug-tainted formula, symptoms might include a mild upset stomach that should last only a few days, said Dr. Joseph Gigante, an associate professor of pediatrics at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital in Nashville.

For more information about the recall, Abbott asks consumers to phone (800) 986-8850.


Clean Out Medicine Cabinet This Weekend: DEA

Americans are being encouraged to gather expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs from their medicine cabinets this Saturday and take them to one of the more than 4,000 drop-off sites around the country.

The national "Take-Back" campaign is part of the effort to reduce the growing problem of teen abuse of prescription drugs, the Associated Press reported.

"We have an epidemic," said acting Drug Enforcement Agency Administrator Michele Leonhart. The DEA is working on the "Take-Back" with the Partnership for a Drug-Free America and thousands of state and local agencies.

"Our research shows that the No. 1 source of medicines that kids abuse is their own home medicine cabinet or a family member or friend's home," Steve Pasierb, president of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, told the AP.


Medicare Beneficiaries in 'Donut Hole' Get Drug Discount in 2011

A 50 percent discount on brand name prescription drugs will be given next year to Medicare beneficiaries who are in the Medicare Part D "donut hole" coverage gap, the U.S. government announced Thursday.

This year, Medicare beneficiaries who hit the donut hole received $250 rebate checks as part of the new health care law. So far, more than 1.2 million beneficiaries have received rebate checks and millions more are scheduled to receive a check, according to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

This year, the donut hole begins when a Medicare beneficiary's prescription drug costs reach $2,830. While in the gap, they have to pay 100 percent of the cost of their prescription drugs and must spend $3,610 out of their own pockets before they qualify for catastrophic coverage.

Under the new health care law, the donut hole will be closed by 2020, according to the White House.


Many HIV-Positive Men Unaware They're Infected: Study

Nearly 20 percent of gay and bisexual men in U.S. cities are infected with HIV, and 44 percent of those men don't know they have the virus that causes AIDS, says a federal government study released Thursday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers tested and interviewed 8,153 gay and bisexual men in 21 cities and found that the overall rate of HIV infection was 19 percent. Black men were most likely to be infected (28 percent), followed by Hispanics (18 percent) and whites (16 percent).

Young men and those of color were least likely to know they were infected with HIV. The study found that 63 percent of infected men under age 30 were unaware. Among infected men of all ages, 59 percent of blacks, 46 percent of Hispanics, and 26 percent of whites were unaware they were infected.

Only 45 percent of men unaware of their infection reported having an HIV test within the last year.

The study appears in this week's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, published by the CDC.

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