Health Highlights: Oct. 13, 2007

A Merck spokeswoman said Isentress will cost about $27 a day, similar to other HIV/AIDS medications, and the drug should be on pharmacy shelves within about 2 weeks. Side effects include diarrhea, nausea, headache and itching.


U.S. and China Discuss Product Safety

U.S. officials met with Chinese representatives Friday in an effort to develop a plan to ensure the safety of Chinese foods, drugs and other products exported to the United States, the Associated Press reported.

While he wouldn't disclose any details about measures that China agreed to take to improve the safety of its exports, U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Andrew C. von Eschenbach did say that Chinese officials will travel to the United States later this month to finalize details of a "memorandum of agreement" between the two nations.

"They are as concerned about confidence in the quality and safety of food and drugs as we are in the United States," von Eschenbach said, the AP reported.

China has faced intense international criticism due to a large number of serious health and safety problems involving products it exports. On Thursday, the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee reported that China's food supply chain does not meet international standards.


Sen. Kennedy Has Surgery for Artery Blockage

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, 75, underwent an hour-long operation Friday for a partial blockage in his neck's left carotid artery. The left and right carotid arteries carry blood to the head and blockages can cause a stroke.

A statement from Kennedy's office said the procedure was completed without any complications and Kennedy is expected to be released from Massachusetts General Hospital in several days, the Associated Press reported.

This kind of surgery, called a carotid endarterectomy, is performed on more than 180,000 people in the United States each year.

Kennedy's blockage was discovered during a routine examination of an old back injury he suffered in a 1964 plane crash, the AP reported.

"As part of a routine evaluation of Senator Kennedy's back and spine, MRI studies picked up an unrelated, asymptomatic blockage in the senator's left carotid artery," said the statement from Kennedy's office.


Report Raises Concerns About Lead in Lipsticks

Tests of 33 top-brand lipsticks sold in the United States showed that more than half had detectable levels of lead and 11 exceeded 0.1 parts per million, the federal lead limit for candy, says a report released Thursday by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

"The cosmetics industry definitely has a lead problem," Stacy Malkan, a spokesperson for the coalition of environmental and public health groups advocating toxin-free products, told the Houston Chronicle.

L'Oreal, CoverGirl, Christian Dior and Maybelline were among the brands found to have high lead levels. For example, L'Oreal Colour Riche True Red had a lead content of 0.65 parts per million, L'Oreal Colour Riche Classic Wine had 0.58 parts per million and CoverGirl's Incredifull Lipcolor Maximum Red had 0.56 parts per million.

The lipstick samples were randomly collected in four cities -- Boston, Hartford, Conn., San Francisco, Minneapolis -- and tested by Bodycote Testing Group in Santa Fe Springs, Calif., the Chronicle reported.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it's aware of past concerns about lead in lipstick and has no plans to take action in response to the report.


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