FDA

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When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first vaccine to protect against cancers caused by certain strains of the human papillomavirus, or HPV, public health advocates cheered its life-saving potential. Unfortunately, the new vaccine quickly became embroiled in a debate over whether immunizing young girls against HPV, a sexually transmitted disease, would lead to risky sexual behavior.

Last week, the US Food and Drug Administration published a final rule that updates requirements for what prescription-drug information must disclose about potential effects for pregnant and breastfeeding women and their babies. And last month, the agency released Drug Trials Snapshots, which is part of a pilot project to help consumers learn more about the clinical trials upon which new drugs’ approvals are based.

That people who work nights have their sleep cycles thrown out of balance has serious consequences but urging a potentially habit-forming, psychoactive drug on an economically stressed, overworked workforce, would seem to be a symptom, at the minimum, of a pharmaceutical industry gone awry. Shouldn’t we instead be figuring out how to reduce the occupational health risks of work schedules?

The Washington Post provides in-depth coverage on issues facing veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan; an unprecedented release of Medicare data gives reporters a lot to work with; and journalists consider how West Virginia’s reliance on a few industries has influenced the state’s response to contaminated water and drug addiction.

When President Obama signed the Food Safety Modernization Act into law in 2011, it was described as the most sweeping reform of the nation’s food safety laws in nearly a century. Public health advocates hailed the law for shifting regulatory authority from reaction to prevention. What received less attention was a first-of-its-kind provision that protects workers who expose food safety lawbreakers.

While the Senate is pressing the EPA to prevent future chemical disasters, legislation has been introduced in Congress that would, if enacted, make it harder for the public to obtain information about chemical hazards, either in industrial storage tanks or consumer products. While state and local governments – and many manufacturers – are responding to growing public is demand for safer chemicals and more information about chemicals used in products – industry trade associations are promoting legislation that appears to counter that progress.

In a first-of-its-kind study, a researcher has estimated that the health-related economic savings of removing bisphenol A from our food supply is a whopping $1.74 billion annually. And that’s a conservative estimate.

Flavoring chemicals may taste yummy but still damaging lungs of workers making food

A recently published study demonstrates (again) the serious risk to workers’ health when exposed to common food-flavoring agents. The risk has been known for more than a decade. It’s just another example of our ineffective systems for protecting workers, consumers and the environment from chemical hazards.

A former State health commissioner explains his tactic for averting cuts in public health funding.

Between 1940 and 1971, a synthetic form of estrogen called diethylstilbestrol (DES) was prescribed to pregnant women to prevent miscarriage and premature labor. This practice changed abruptly, though, after the New England Journal of Medicine published a dramatic new finding from a study of young women diagnosed with a rare cancer in two Boston hospitals.