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Updated on June 14, 2022
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Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of HealthDay:
Pfizer Painkiller Tied to Some Heart Problems
Pfizer, Inc., told doctors on Friday to be on the lookout for heart problems in certain patients taking its arthritis drug Bextra, which is in the same class of medications as one that was recently taken off the market.
The drug giant said it has found that patients on Bextra had a slightly higher chance of suffering from cardiovascular events if they had undergone a coronary artery bypass graft, a risky surgery.
"An increase in cardiovascular events was observed in patients receiving Bextra alone or in combination with parecoxib," an intravenous solution, the company announced in a statement.
The company also announced that Bextra is associated with a rare skin reaction.
Two weeks ago, Merck & Co. announced the withdrawal of Vioxx, which like Bextra belongs to a class of painkillers called cox-2 inhibitors. Vioxx was removed from the shelves after studies found it was associated with a higher risk of heart trouble.
Experts said the withdrawal cast suspicion on the heart safety of all cox-2 inhibitors.
Crashes Killed Fewer Teens in 2003
A new U.S. government report finds that 4 percent fewer young drivers died on the nation's roads in 2003 than in 2002, but that too many were killed as a result of inexperience and impaired driving.
The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) said that, in 2003, 3,657 drivers between the ages of 15 and 20 were killed, compared with 3,827 in 2002. Another 308,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes, compared with 324,000 in the previous year.
Nearly 31 percent of teen drivers killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2003 had been drinking, and 74 percent of this group was not wearing their safety belts, according to the NHTSA report.
"Although crash statistics are at record low levels, we must work every day to remind everyone about the deadly mix of inexperienced teen drivers and alcohol," Dr. Jeffrey Runge, the NHTSA administrator, said in a statement. "We know parents hold the keys to prevention, and the first step is simply talking to your teen about buckling up, slowing down, and never driving impaired."
Barry Bonds Said to Use Illegal Steroids in 2003
San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds reportedly used undetectable steroids during the 2003 season, the first in which Major League Baseball banned the substance, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Saturday.
The newspaper said it had obtained a transcript of a recorded conversation by Bonds's longtime friend and weight trainer, Gary Anderson, who is under indictment in a Bay Area steroid scandal.
According to the Chronicle, Anderson claimed that he would get at least a week's advance notice that Bonds, who won the Most Valuable Player award that year, would have to submit to a steroid test under the league's new ban.
"The whole thing is, everything that I've been doing at this point, it's all undetectable," Anderson said on the recording of the drug he was providing Bonds. "See the stuff I have, we created it, and you can't buy it anywhere else, can't get it anywhere else, but you can take it the day of [the test], pee, and it comes up perfect," according to the Chronicle account.
Woman Dies After Waiting in Flu Vaccine Line
A 79-year-old Orinda, Calif., woman collapsed and died after waiting more than four hours to obtain a flu shot at a local Safeway supermarket, the Contra Costa Times reported Friday.
Witnesses said there weren't sufficient places to sit or shade themselves from the hot sun, according to the newspaper report. Marie Franklin, an award-winning artist, finally left the line Wednesday seeking shade. Her husband, Robert, told the newspaper that she had become pale and weak, and collapsed as she walked toward the shade, striking her head. She died from her injuries Thursday.
Also Thursday in nearby Concord, Calif., two women ages 76 and 83 collapsed outside a Costco store from possible heat exhaustion, the Times said. The newspaper did not elaborate on their conditions.
Long lines to obtain flu shots are being reported across the country in the wake of a sudden shortage caused by last week's British government shutdown of a major U.S. supplier. Federal officials are advising that healthy people forgo their shots this season in favor of those most at risk of flu -- the elderly, young children, and people with chronic health problems.
UN: Indoor Pollution Kills 1.6 Million Annually
About 1.6 million people worldwide die each year from the effects of indoor pollution, two United Nations agencies reported Friday.
"While the millions of deaths from well-known communicable diseases often make headlines, indoor air pollution remains a silent and unreported killer," according to a statement from the World Health Organization and the U.N. Development Program.
The agencies said people in nearly half of the world continue to cook with wood, coal and other solid fuels in conditions that lack proper ventilation, according to an Associated Press account of the report. The resulting smoke and fumes contain a toxic cocktail of particles and chemicals, the report said. And people who don't die from the direct effects of the smoke often die from respiratory disease, the agencies added.
A typical wood-fired cooking stove creates noxious fumes and smoke that are up to 500 times greater than international safety standards permit, the report said.
Care Bear Lunch Kits Recalled for Choking Risk
Sky High International LLC is recalling 13,000 Care Bears Lunch Kits whose water bottles include parts that pose a choking hazard to young children, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported.
The firm has received two reports of the drinking spouts detaching, although there are no reports of injuries.
The kits, made in China, were sold at Kohl's Department Stores nationwide from July through September 2004 for about $13. Consumers are advised to stop using the product immediately, and to contact the manufacturer at 1-800-868-7870 for information about obtaining a refund.
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