Health Highlights: June 19, 2008

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

FDA Sued Over Alleged Painkiller Risks

The painkiller propoxyphene, sold under the brand names Darvoset and Darvon, has too many health risks to be left on the market, a consumer advocacy group alleges in its lawsuit filed Thursday against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The drug, which also is sold generically, has been involved in the accidental deaths of more than 2,000 people who took it since 1981, Public Citizen said in its petition two years ago to ban the medication.

WHAT TO KNOW
    • FDA Sued Over Alleged Painkiller Risks
    • PETCO Warehouse Cited for Unsanitary Conditions
    • Drug Linked to Suicide Being Tested on Veterans With PTSD
    • Scientists Renew Old Muscles
    • Baby Bottle Makers Sued Over Bisphenol A Use
    • Large Increase in Suicides By Elderly Japanese
    • Rating System Being Introduced for U.S. Nursing Homes
    • Endangered Dogs Cloned By Disgraced Stem Cell Scientist

In its lawsuit, Public Citizen said the FDA broke the law when it failed to act on the petition within the required six months, the Associated Press reported.

The advocacy group has said that there are safer, more effective painkillers than propoxyphene, which the lawsuit says is addictive and can cause cardiac problems including a slowed heartbeat, the AP reported. It can also cause sedation and confusion among the elderly, according to Dr. Sydney Wolfe, Director of Public Citizen's Health Research Group.

None of the drug's manufacturer's immediately responded to the wire service's request for comment.

Some 22 million prescriptions for the drug are filled annually in the United States, the AP said.

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PETCO Warehouse Cited for Unsanitary Conditions

On the order of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, federal marshals on Thursday raided a PETCO warehouse in Joliet, Ill., that serves 16 states.

The agency cited unsanitary conditions at the facility, which provides pet food products and supplies to PETCO retail stores in Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin.

The agency said it had no reports of pet illness or evidence that any of the products were unsafe. "However, the seized products were in permeable packages and held under conditions that could affect the food's integrity and quality," according to an FDA statement.

The agency said it inspected the facility twice in April and May, finding "widespread and active rodent and bird infestation."

It advised consumers who had any products from PETCO in affected states to thoroughly wash their hands with hot water and soap, and to thoroughly wash surfaces that may have come in contact with the packages.

If pets become sick after eating affected products, consumers should call their veterinarian and report such instances to the agency's state consumer complaint coordinator. A list of phone numbers is available at http://www.fda.gov/opacom/backgrounders/complain.html.

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Drug Linked to Suicide Being Tested on Veterans With PTSD

Veterans groups and some members of Congress say they're outraged over revelations that Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are being recruited by the U.S. government for tests involving the anti-smoking drug Chantix, which has been linked to increased risk of suicide.

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