Health Highlights: Nov. 6, 2008

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

Contaminated Heparin Seized From Cincinnati Company

Eleven contaminated lots of the blood-thinning drug heparin were seized from Celsus Laboratories Inc. in Cincinnati, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Thursday.

The five lots of Heparin Sodium Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) and six lots of Heparin Lithium, which were manufactured from material imported from China, were contaminated with over-sulfated chondroitin sulfate (OSCS), a substance that mimics heparin's anticoagulant activity.

WHAT TO KNOW
    • Contaminated Heparin Seized From Cincinnati Company
    • N. Dakota Warns About Lead in Wild Game Meat
    • Pfizer Halts Testing on Anti-Obesity Drug
    • Functioning Human Brain Cells Created From Stem Cells

Heparin Sodium USP may be incorporated into finished drug products while Heparin Lithium is used in certain medical devices, including vacutainer blood collection tubes, some in-vitro diagnostic assays, and as a coating for capillary tubes. Celsus has distributed Heparin Sodium USP and Heparin Lithium to manufacturers in the United States and other countries, the FDA said.

The agency has notified Australian, Canadian, European Union, Japanese and other international authorities about shipments of contaminated heparin from Celsus.

Earlier this year, the FDA received reports of multiple illnesses and deaths linked to OSCS contamination in injectable drug products containing heparin. In response, the agency said, it improved inspection and import controls programs and has initiated 13 recalls of contaminated medical products containing heparin from several companies.

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N. Dakota Warns About Lead in Wild Game Meat

Pregnant women and children younger than 6 years old shouldn't eat meat from wild game killed with lead bullets, North Dakota health officials warned after the release Wednesday of a study that looked at lead levels in the blood of more than 700 state residents.

The study, conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state health department, found that people who ate wild game killed with lead bullets appeared to have higher lead levels than those who ate little or no such meat, the Associated Press reported.

The study is the first to link traces of lead in wild game meat with higher levels of lead in the blood of people who eat the meat. Dr. Stephen Pickard, a CDC epidemiologist, said the study found "the more recent the consumption of wild game harvested with lead bullets, the higher the level of lead in the blood."

While the elevated lead levels associated with wild game meat weren't considered dangerous, North Dakota officials decided to issue the caution because unborn babies and young children are considered most at risk from lead poisoning, which can cause learning problems, convulsions and, in severe cases, brain damage and death.

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Pfizer Halts Testing on Anti-Obesity Drug

Testing on a new anti-obesity drug has been halted by Pfizer Inc. because gaining U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval would be too slow, expensive and risky, Bloomberg news reported.

Pfizer said it's not willing to put money into new human tests likely to be required by the FDA. The experimental drug -- dubbed CP-945,598 -- was in the third of three stages required for approval.

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