Health Highlights: Nov. 17, 2007

FDA Orders Seizure of Eyelash EnhancerPrescription Weight Loss Drugs Work... Up to a Point New Meningitis Vaccine Shows PromiseDeath Prompts Recall of Children's Storage RacksUnidentified Disease in Angola Investigated by WHOMutant Cold Virus Has Killed 10: CDC

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

FDA Orders Seizure of Eyelash Enhancer

More than 12,500 tubes of a product marketed as an eyelash growth enhancer were seized Friday, after officials from the U.S, Food and Drug Administration determined it could dangerously increase pressure inside the eye.

The FDA announced that U.S. Marshals seized 12,682 applicator tubes of Age Intervention Eyelash, which the federal agency said contained an adulterated form of bimatoprost, which has been approved to treat elevated intraocular pressure. But, said the FDA in a news release, the Age Intervention Eyelash ingredients were unregulated and illegal.

Specific problems in using Age Intervention Eyelash, the FDA said, were the patients already taking a prescription dose of bimatoprost may be in danger of optic nerve damage if they used the eyelash enhancer, too; and using the unregulated cosmetic also could cause macular edema (swelling of the retina) and uveitis (inflammation in the eye).

The value of the seized material was about $2 million, the FDA said. Age Intervention Eyelash is sold and distributed by Jan Marini Skin Research, Inc., of San Jose, Calif.


Prescription Weight Loss Drugs Work... Up to a Point

Three diet drugs, one of which still hasn't been approved for use in the United States, will assist in weight loss, Canadian researchers report, but there can be serious side effects and the weight loss isn't all that great.

According to the Associated Press, the report, published in the latest issue of the British Medical Journal, found that people who took the prescription drugs Xenical, Meridia and Acomplia (Acomplia is not sold in the United States) registered lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels and reduced diabetes. For the 45 to 50-year-old study group, which had an average weight of 220 pounds, weight loss registered a little less than 11 pounds per person.

About 20 percent of those who took Meridia experienced side effects that included raised blood pressure and pulse rates, insomnia and nausea, the A.P. reported. Up to 30 percent of those who took Xenical had side effects that included unpleasant digestive and intestinal side effects.

About six percent of those who took Acomplia experienced mood disorders, a primary reason the drug didn't receive FDA approval, the wire service reported.


New Meningitis Vaccine Shows Promise

A vaccine designed to protect infants from four types of meningitis (A, C, W-135 and Y strains) produced promising results in a phase II study, according to data presented at the World Society for Pediatric Infectious Diseases Congress. Current vaccines against these strains don't work in children younger than age 2, BBC News reported.

This study found that Menveo, developed by Novartis, triggered good immune responses against all four strains in 175 infants who received either two doses of the vaccine at ages six and 12 months, or a single dose at 12 months.

The vaccine is currently being tested in larger trials and may be submitted for regulatory approval next year, BBC News reported.

This type of vaccine could prove important in parts of Africa that experience large outbreaks of meningitis A and meningitis W-135, said Professor Robert Read, an infectious diseases expert at the University of Sheffield in the U.K.

"The attack rate can be upwards of one per 1,000 so your chance of getting meningitis as a baby is incredibly high," he told BBC News. "That's where the vaccine has real potential."


Death Prompts Recall of Children's Storage Racks

The death of an 8-month-old boy has prompted a U.S. recall of about 36,000 Chinese-made storage racks that can tip over, entrap children and suffocate them, The Kansas City Star reported.

The boy was asphyxiated after he pulled on the rack and it fell on him. The top rail of the rack landed on the boy's neck. No other incidents have been reported to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission or the distributor of the racks, Texas-based Jetmax International Ltd., the newspaper said.

The recalled wooden storage racks have three levels and nine removable canvas totes. Wal-Mart Stores sold the racks under the brand name "Home Trend Kids 9 Canvas Bin Boy's and Girl's Organizers" from August 2004 through July 2005, The Kansas City Star reported. The racks were also sold through Ollie's stores from July 2006 through June 2007.

Consumers with these racks should immediately stop children from using them and contact Jetmax at 1-800-689-2168 to receive a free repair kit that makes the racks more stable, the CPSC said.


Unidentified Disease in Angola Investigated by WHO

A disease that's killed five people and sent more than 200 to hospital in Angola has not yet been identified by international experts with the World Health Organization, who've spent the last two weeks collecting blood samples from clinics where some of the patients have been treated, Agence France-Presse reported.

All the patients have reported dizziness, sleepiness, and difficulty walking and speaking. WHO experts have ruled out the possibility that a virus is to blame for the illness, which does not appear to be transmitted from one person to another.

WHO officials have told people not to panic and to report to hospital if they develop any symptoms of the disease, which first started appearing at the beginning of October.

"There are various hypotheses we're drawing on. Give us time to work," one WHO source told AFP. The news agency also reported that one of the WHO experts working on the case was quoted on a local radio station as saying: "I've never seen something like this."

The team investigating the outbreak includes specialists in clinical toxicology, epidemiology and environmental health.


Mutant Cold Virus Has Killed 10: CDC

A respiratory virus that's a variant of the bug that causes the common cold has killed 10 people and made at least 140 sick in the past 18 months, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report released Thursday.

The bug is among a family of viruses called adenovirus, which usually trigger non-lethal respiratory illnesses, the Associated Press reported. The more than 50 different types of adenovirus have been known to spawn respiratory ills ranging from pneumonia to bronchitis.

The new strain has caused at least 140 respiratory infections in New York, Oregon, Washington state, and Texas, the wire service said.

It was labeled "boot camp flu" when it made scores of military personnel sick at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio earlier this year. One 19-year-old trainee died from the virus, the AP reported.

Antiviral medications aren't very effective in treating adenoviruses, the wire service said, noting that infected people are normally prescribed bed rest, liquids, and aspirin.

The CDC said the earliest case of the lethal strain was identified in a New York City infant who died last year. The baby girl initially seemed healthy but quickly stopped eating and drinking. She died 12 days after birth, the wire service said.


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