A new television commercial for the painkiller Celebrex was launched last week, two years after ads for the drug were pulled off the air at the request of U.S. regulators because the drug was linked to increased heart attack and stroke risk.
But at least one group is demanding that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration order the manufacturer, Pfizer, to pull the new ad as well.
New York-based Pfizer Inc. spent more than a year discussing the content of the new commercial with the FDA, according to Bloomberg News. The company decided to launch a new ad campaign after internal research showed that 40 percent of U.S. consumers thought Celebrex was no longer on the market.
The 2 1/2 minute ad begins with a warning that Celebrex and competing drugs such as naproxen and ibuprofen all may cause heart attack, stroke and death. The ad then lists the benefits of Celebrex, including the claim that the drug causes less indigestion, abdominal pain and nausea than naproxen and ibuprofen, Bloomberg reported.
The nonprofit advocacy group Public Citizen on Monday sent a letter to the FDA demanding that the agency order Pfizer to immediately stop airing the ad.
"The overall purpose of the ad is to make it appear, contrary to scientific evidence, that the cardiovascular dangers of Celebrex are not greater than those of any of the other NSAID painkillers. Further, it asserts that certain gastrointestinal problems are, if anything, less frequent with Celebrex than with two popular over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers," wrote Dr. Sidney Wolfe, director of Public Citizen's Health Research Group.
"The ad violates FDA law and regulations because it contains several false or misleading statements that will lead many viewers to underestimate the cardiovascular and gastrointestinal risks of Celebrex and use it in preference to equally effective, safer alternatives such as OTC naproxen," Wolfe wrote.
Alcohol Consumption in Russia Triples Since 1990
Average annual alcohol consumption in Russia nearly tripled between 1990 and 2006, from 5.4 liters to 15 liters per person, according to the country's consumer protection agency.
The agency, called Rospotrebnadzor, noted that the 2006 average was far higher than the 2005 average of 9.7 liters per person, Agence France Presse reported. In 2005, about 2.3 million of Russia's 142 million people were considered alcoholics.
In total, 12 billion liters of alcohol were sold in Russia in 2006. Of that, 75 percent was beer, 16 percent vodka and other hard liquor, 8t percent wine, and 1 percent cognac.
The agency said that while alcohol-related deaths actually declined to 28,386 in 2006 from 40,877 in 2005, alcohol was still a factor in 12 percent of all deaths in Russia last year, AFP reported.
Home-brewed alcohol killed 1,074 people in 2006, and 5 percent of alcohol sold in 2006 didn't meet sanitary standards, up from 2.6 percent in 2005.
Fat Impairs Cancer-Fighting Effects of Vitamin C: Study
The cancer-fighting effects of vitamin C may be nullified when fat is present in the stomach, suggests a study by researchers at the University of Glasgow in Scotland.
In laboratory experiments, the scientists found that vitamin C (ascorbic acid) clears away potential cancer-causing compounds that are created when food and saliva mix with stomach acid, BBC News reported.
However, when fat is present in the stomach, vitamin C is no longer able to prevent the formation of such hazardous compounds. The findings show how diet may be associated with certain stomach cancers, the researchers said.
"These results show that the presence of lipid can markedly alter the protective effects of antioxidants, and how a diet rich in fat can directly influence gastric biochemistry," said study lead author Emilie Combet.
The study was presented at the annual meeting of the Society of Experimental Biology.
Bridget Aisbitt, a nutrition scientist for the British Nutrition Foundation, told BBC News that this was interesting research but no one factor can cause cancer, which is a complex disease the develops over many years due to a number of genetic and environmental factors.
She said the study does help "underline the importance of a healthy balanced diet where meals high in fat should not be frequent and five portions of fruit and vegetables -- our main source of vitamin C -- are eaten each day."
PTSD Patients Less Sensitive to Pain: Study
People with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) appear to be less sensitive to pain than those without the condition, says a Dutch study in the journal Archives of General Pyshiatry.
The study included 24 military veterans -- half with PTSD and half without -- who were given hot objects to hold while their brain activity was monitored using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), BBC News reported.
Compared to those without PTSD, the veterans with PTSD said the objects felt less hot and reported significantly less pain. The fMRI scans showed that those with PTSD had much less activity in parts of the brain that process pain while they were holding the hot objects.
The researchers did not offer any explanations for the differences in pain regulation between the veterans with PTSD and those without the condition, BBC News reported. Some previous studies have suggested that PTSD patients may have differences in the structure of certain parts of the brain.
People with PTSD suffer flashbacks, panic attacks, anxiety and depression following a traumatic event.
Baby Turtles Pose Serious Health Risk: FDA
In response to the recent death of 4-week-old infant in Florida, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a reminder that baby turtles can pose a serious health risk to infants, small children and adults with impaired immune systems.
Baby turtles can carry salmonella, a group of bacteria that can cause severe illness and death, the FDA said. Salmonella can be found on the outer skin and shell surfaces of the turtles and can infect people who do not properly wash their hands after handling the animals.
The FDA said that parents and others who care for children need to remember that:
Salmonella infection can be caused by contact with turtles in petting zoos, parks, day-care facilities and other locations.
It's important to wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling or touching turtles and their housing.
The sale of turtles with a shell less than 4 inches long is illegal. Exceptions include sales of turtles intended for export only, or for bona fide scientific, educational, or exhibition purposes.
Each year in the United States, there are an estimated 74,000 cases of turtle-associated salmonellosis in humans, the FDA said. Gastrointestinal symptoms caused by salmonella bacteria usually begin 12 to 36 hours after exposure and generally last for two to seven days.
Asian Herb May Help Fight Urinary Infections
An Asian herb often identified as a weight loss aid may be beneficial in reducing urinary tract infections even after antibiotic treatment, a Duke University study has found.
One of the problems with treating urinary tract infections is that colonies of E. coli bacteria can "hide" in cells lining the bladder even after antibiotics have killed 90 percent of them, a Duke University Medical Center news release says. But the use of forskolin, an extract from the Indian coleus plant, flushes out hiding colonies of bacteria, and then antibiotics can finish them off.
The research was conducted on laboratory mice, and "... there are small numbers of bacteria that survive antibiotic treatment because they sneak into the lining of the bladder, waiting for the opportunity, after antibiotic treatment, to come out and start multiplying again," Duke microbiologist Soman Abraham, who led the research, said in the news release.
"This herb has been used in Asia for centuries for a wide variety of ailments," Abraham said. "However, one of its constant uses has been for treating painful urination."
Forskolin is a popular supplement for weight loss and body building and is available in most stores selling herbal products. Abraham said that a person with a urinary tract infection who wants to try forskolin should first consult a physician.