Health Highlights: March 29, 2007

Most human cases of bird flu in the country have been caused by contact with sick birds. As part of the effort to halt human infections, Indonesian officials have outlawed the widespread practice of keeping chickens in backyards in Jakarta, AFP reported.

Since the end of 2003, the H5N1 bird flu virus has infected 284 people and killed 169 around the world. Most of the cases have occurred in Southeast Asia. The figures don't include the latest two cases in Indonesia, or the death of a Chinese teenager announced on Thursday.

Experts worry that the H5N1 virus may mutate into a form that's easily transmitted between humans and cause a global pandemic.

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FDA Launches Web Site Warning of Online Accutane Sales

People conducting Web searches to buy the acne drug Accutane (isotretinoin) online will now be confronted with a U.S. Food and Drug Administration site warning of the dangers of this type of online purchase, the agency announced Wednesday.

"Isotretinoin is a drug approved for the treatment of severe acne that does not respond to other forms of treatment," the FDA said in a statement. "If the drug is improperly used, it can cause severe side effects, including birth defects. Serious mental health problems have also been reported with isotretinoin use."

The new Web page should pop up whenever someone searches for Accutane, or any other generic form of isotretinoin, such as Amnesteem, Claravis or Sotret. The page -- http://www.fda.gov/buyonline/accutane -- warns against using the drug without a doctor's or pharmacist's supervision.

Because the use of isotretinoin is strongly linked to birth defects, the FDA and manufacturers have previously collaborated on the iPLEDGE program, aimed at ensuring that women who use the drug do not become pregnant, while curbing the use of isotretonoin in women who are pregnant.

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Bacteria Contamination Spurs Wrinkle Cream Recall

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday announced the recall of DermaFreeze365 commercial skin care lotions because of contamination with the Psuedomonas aeruginosa bacterium. The bacterium can cause a wide variety of serious illness, including eye infections and even blindness.

According the products' maker, Woodridge Labs. Inc., of Panorama City, Calif., the recalled products include DermaFreeze365 Instant Line Relaxing Formula (UPC Codes 6-05923-36501-6, 6-05923-36502-3 and 6-05923-10563-6) and DermaFreeze365 Neck & Chest (UPC Code 6-05923-36503-0).

"Because the DermaFreeze365 Instant Line Relaxing Formula may be applied to the area of the eye, there is a possibility that inadvertent introduction of the tainted product could result in serious eye infections and, in rare circumstances, blindness," the company said in a statement.

Contamination with P. aeruginosa was noticed during routine testing and affected products may appear discolored, the company said. "Consumers that have the product should discontinue use of the product and destroy it immediately, or return it to their place of purchase for further processing," Woodridge Labs said.

No cases of illness have yet been reported, but patients with any product-linked health concerns should contact their physician.

Further information on the recall can be obtained at 818-902-5537 or via email at recall@woodridgelab.com.

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Food Dominates TV Ads for Children

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