Terra Sigillata

Archives for May, 2007

Mother’s Day reflections

My Mom did all the great ‘Mom’ things and was also instrumental in my career choice. After I started grade school, she started feeling out a career in nursing by working as a secretary in the emergency room department of a local hospital. She decided to go to nursing school when I was between 9…

Via my colleague, PharmCanuck, comes news of an in-depth radio program on dichloroacetate (DCA) that aired this past Tuesday on CBC’s, “The Current.” As a reminder to readers who aren’t already bored senseless of my discussion of this chemical, DCA is a small molecule freely-available in the public domain that was shown to slow the…

Mannatech missteps in WSJ

The practices of Mannatech distributors were the focus of a detailed article in this morning’s Wall Street Journal by Suzanne Sataline. The Issue: Some consumers are using Mannatech nutritional supplements to seek relief from serious medical problems. The Background: The company’s free-lance salespeople sometimes suggest product uses that go well beyond recommendations on their labels.…

Via the Knight Science Journalism Tracker at MIT, I was directed to one of the best-written articles on melamine contamination of pet food and animal feed. David Brown at the Washington Post is the guilty party whose article appeared Monday. Brown does a terrific job of explaining how the modestly toxic substance, melamine, can cause…

More on unsafe food additives

Between melamine and diethylene glycol, most of my attention this past week has been on unsafe food and drug additives in products imported into the US and other countries. Nicholas Zamiska has an article in today’s Wall Street Journal detailing this widespread problem: China, India, and Mexico are the countries that lead the number of…

As noted in my Sunday post on the New York Times article on diethylene glycol (DEG) contamination of glycerin used for cough syrup, the US FDA has warned pharmaceutical manufacturers, compounding pharmacies, and repackers to test glycerine stocks for the toxic glycol. Frequent commenter, Joe, noted that the sad part of the DEG deaths was…

Who is most Abel?

My namesake and North American father of pharmacology, John Jacob Abel, was a celebrity in absentia at the recent Experimental Biology meeting of the American Society of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET). In Nature, Jill Adams reported on an effort to mark the 100th anniversary of the society next year by having members determine their…

I wrote back in December about poisoning deaths in Panama due to a cough syrup substitution with diethylene glycol, a cheap industrial solvent that is toxic to the kidneys and nervous system when ingested. This same solvent was the cause of over a hundred deaths in the US in 1937, leading to passage of the…

In a fitting end to what became simple math week here at Terra Sig, an article by Tara Parker-Pope in the Wall Street Journal addresses the issue of supersized alcohol portions. A subscription is required so I’ll quote heavily. Considerable data has accumulated to suggest that there are health benefits from one alcoholic drink per…

The other day I noted news of the Texas compounding pharmacy mistake that led to three deaths when an injectable colchicine preparation was found to be ten times more concentrated than labeled. Several readers commented on the reasons for the mistake, but I may have found another. The source illustrating my pet peeve is the…