Saturday, 28 January 2006 00:00

Health Highlights: Jan. 28, 2006

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

Company Recalls 500,000 Baby Teethers

At least a half million liquid-filled baby teethers distributed in the United States and Canada were recalled on Friday because of a possible bacterial contamination that could cause serious illness, the Associated Press reported.

The liquid in six types of teethers could be contaminated with the Pseudomonas aeruginosa or the Pseudomonas putida bacteria, according to The First Years Inc., of Massachusetts. If the teether is punctured and the liquid ingested, the bacteria can cause serious illness in children, although no illnesses have been reported.

"FDA would like to caution consumers that Pseudomonas aeriginosa is a bacteria that can cause serious illness, particularly in people with compromised immune systems and in infants who are still developing their immunity, as well as children who are born with immune deficiencies," FDA spokeswoman Julie Zawisza said.

Three of the products are adorned with popular cartoon characters. The Disney Days of Hunny Soft Cool Ring Teether, bearing style number Y1447, and the Disney Soft Cool Ring Teether, bearing style number Y1470 or Y1490, feature Winnie-the-Pooh characters. The Sesame Beginnings Chill and Chew Teether, style number Y3095, features Sesame Street characters.

The other teethers recalled are The First Years Cool Animal Teether (style number Y1473) and The First Years Floating Friends Teether (style number Y1474), which feature fish and other animal graphics.

Major retailers, including grocery, drug and specialty stores, sold the product nationwide and in Canada from July 2005 through January 2006.

-----

New Angina Drug to Hit Market in March

A drug that eases the agonizing pain that can grip angina sufferers when their hearts don't get enough oxygen was given the government's blessing on Friday, the Associated Press reported.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved ranolazine for use in angina patients, agency spokeswoman Laura Alvey said. The drug is approved for patients who take calcium channel blockers, beta blockers or nitroglycerin, according to CV Therapeutics Inc. The California company hopes to begin marketing the drug as Ranexa in March.

More than 6 million Americans have angina; Ranexa allows the heart to pump more efficiently without the need for more oxygen, the company told the wire service.

Current drugs for angina either increase the supply of oxygen-bearing blood or reduce the heart's demand for oxygen. Ranexa relaxes contracted heart muscle, Dr. Louis Lange, chairman and chief executive officer of CV Therapeutics, told the AP. That returns blood flow to normal levels, relieving the pain that accompanies it, Lange added.

The drug will be available as an extended-release tablet.

The European Medicines Agency in October demanded further trials of Ranexa before it would consider approving the drug.

-----

Medical Device Maker Didn't Report Safety Problems: FDA

Medical device maker Boston Scientific has repeatedly failed to disclose serious safety issues with its products and quality-control concerns at its factories, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned Thursday.

The FDA said that problems plagued every Boston Scientific plant and every device made by the company. However, the FDA didn't order any product recalls and put no restrictions on the sale of the company's medical devices, The New York Times reported.

The FDA warning came a day after Boston Scientific won a takeover bid for Guidant, another medical device company that has had major problems with some of its defibrilla