Health Highlights: April 11, 2008

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

Nine States Chosen for Health Care Quality Improvement

Nine states have been selected to take part in the State Quality Improvement Institute, a program to help states devise and implement action plans to improve performance in a number of health care quality indicators. The institute is a collaboration of the Commonwealth Fund and AcademyHealth.

"Our State Scorecard on Health System Performance found that we could save thousands of lives and billions of dollars if all states could achieve the level of the top performers on key indicators of health outcomes, quality, access, efficiency, and equity," Karen Davis, Commonwealth Fund president, said in a prepared statement.

WHAT TO KNOW
    • Nine States Chosen for Health Care Quality Improvement
    • Recalled Dietary Supplements May Pose Serious Health Hazard
    • Michaels Recalls 310,000 Writing Pens
    • Scientists Say EPA's New Smog Standard Fails to Protect Public
    • Drug, Device Makers Pledge Disclosure About Promotional Spending
    • Plan to Move U.S. Foot-and-Mouth Lab Causes Concern

"The State Quality Institute will allow states to learn best practices to improve health care quality, and is an important step toward achieving a high performing health care system in the U.S.," she said.

Each state will appoint a team to take part in an interactive process for developing policy and program strategies. The nine states selected for participation are: Colorado, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.

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Recalled Dietary Supplements May Pose Serious Health Hazard

Twelve dietary supplements containing ephedra, aristolochic acid or human placenta that may pose a serious health hazard to consumers are being recalled by Herbal Science International, Inc.

The recalled products are: Wu Yao Shun Qi San; Qing Bi Tang (nasal cleanser); Zhong Fong Huo Luo Wan (stroke revito formula); Xiao Qing Long Tang (Little Green Dragon); Ding Chuan Tang; Xiao Xu Ming Tang; Feng Shi Zhi Tong Wan (joint relief); Guo Min Bi Yan Wan; Fang Feng Tong Sheng San; Tou Tong San (headache formula); Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang (Du Huo joint relief); and Seng Jong Tzu Tong Tan.

Ephedrine alkaloids can have potentially dangerous effects on the heart, while aristolochic acid is potent carcinogen and can cause serious kidney damage. Human placenta can transmit disease, and dietary supplements that contain it are not allowed to be sold in the United States, the Food and Drug Administration said.

All 12 products were distributed in white plastic bottles of 100 capsules and sold nationwide in herbal stores, by acupuncturists and on the Internet. Consumers who bought these products should immediately stop using them and return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.

People who have taken these products and have had adverse reactions should consult a doctor, the FDA said.

For more information, call Herbal Science International, Inc. at 626-333-9998.

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Michaels Recalls 310,000 Seasonal Writing Pens

About 310,000 Flower Writers, Christmas Writers, Easter Writers and Spooky Writers Seasonal Writing Pens with high levels of lead are being recalled by Michaels Stores Inc., of Irving, Texas.

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