martes, 23 de octubre de 2012

Monster Energy cited in FDA death reports

Shares of Monster Beverage plunged Monday after the company's energy drinks were cited in five deaths reported to the Food and Drug Administration.

Corona, Calif.-based Monster Beverage's (MNST) stock ended the day down 14% on the Nasdaq.

The FDA has received "adverse incident reports" of five deaths involving Monster energy drinks, although the administration has not established a direct link in any case, according to FDA spokeswoman Shelly Burgess.

"We're still looking into it," she told CNNMoney.

The reports, first disclosed by the New York Times, were requested under a Freedom of Information Act filed by the mother of a 14-year-old Maryland girl who died in December from heart problems after drinking Monster Energy on two consecutive days.

The Maryland girl, Anais Fournier, drank two Monster Energy beverages that contained a combined 480 milligrams of caffeine, equivalent to 14 12-oz. cans of Coca-Cola, according to the lawsuit filed by Wendy Crossland and Richard Fournier in California Superior Court on Oct. 17.

In a statement issued last Friday, Monster Beverage said it was "saddened" by the death, but pledged to "vigorously defend" itself in court.

"Monster does not believe that its beverages are in any way responsible for the death of Ms. Fournier," the company said. "Monster is unaware of any fatality anywhere that has been caused by its drinks."

A lawyer representing Fournier's parents, Kevin Goldberg of Goldberg, Finnegan & Mester, LLC, did not comment beyond the lawsuit.



Investigan si la bebida energética Monster se relaciona con la muerte de cinco personas

( – Las acciones de Monster Beverage se hundieron el lunes después de que las bebidas energéticas de la compañía fueron citadas en la muerte de cinco personas reportadas a la Administración de Fármacos y Alimentos de EE.UU. (FDA).

Las acciones de la compañía basada en Corona, California terminaron el día en un 14% en el Nasdaq.

La FDA recibió "informes de incidentes adversos" de cinco muertes relacionadas con las bebidas energéticas Monster, aunque la administración no ha establecido un vínculo directo, en ningún caso, según la portavoz de la FDA, Shelly Burgess.

"Todavía estamos investigando", dijo a CNNMoney.

Los informes, revelados por primera vez en The New York Times se solicitaron bajo la Ley de Libertad de Información presentada por la madre de una niña de 14 años de Maryland, quien murió en diciembre de problemas del corazón después de beber "Monster Energy" por dos días consecutivos.

La chica de Maryland, Anais Fournier bebió dos bebidas energéticas Monster que contenían un total combinado de 480 miligramos de cafeína, equivalente a 14 latas de 12 onzas de Coca-Cola, de acuerdo con la demanda presentada por Wendy Crossland y Richard Fournier en la Corte Superior de California el 17 de octubre.

En un comunicado emitido el viernes pasado, Monster Beverage dijo que estaba "entristecido" por la muerte, pero se comprometió a "defenderse vigorosamente" a sí misma en la corte.

"Monster no cree que sus bebidas son en modo alguno responsables de la muerte de la señorita Fournier", dijo la compañía. "Monster no tiene conocimiento de ninguna víctima mortal en ningún lugar que haya sido causada por sus bebidas".

Un abogado que representa a los padres de Fournier, Kevin Goldberg, de Goldberg, Finnegan & Mester, LLC, no hizo ningún comentario más allá de la demanda.


jueves, 18 de octubre de 2012

Santa gives up smoking in new 'Night Before Christmas'

As a role model, Santa’s got some health issues. He’s overweight, and he zooms around the world in terrible weather and drops down soot-filled chimneys. But worst of all in the mind of anti-smoking crusader Pamela McColl is that “stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth.”

“I just really don’t think Santa should be smoking in the 21stcentury,” McColl said by telephone. And she did something about it – published a version of the beloved poem “A Visit From St. Nicholas” with the smoking references – including illustrations – excised.

It’s tough to find anyone who would advocate for children to smoke, but that’s not to say the new version of the poem is getting unanimous support. Critics doubt Santa’s pipe will get youngsters to light up, and they say it's not OK to muck with the original poem.

“My fear is not that kids will read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas' and take up smoking. My fear is that kids will take their cues from models I revere nowhere near as much as I revere literature,” said David Kipen, owner of Libros Schmibros bookstore in Los Angeles and a longtime literature advocate.

McColl, a Canadian publisher, said she came across a smoking Santa while browsing in a library. It was, she said, a eureka moment.

“I grew up in the '60s, in the ‘Mad Men’ series,” said McColl, herself a former smoker. And when she looked at her childhood edition of the Christmas Eve story, she found Santa smoking on half of the pages.

“A lot of people my age have lost someone to smoking,” McColl said. “And I thought, ‘Oh my. This is a great project.’”

“… And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath,” reads the poem, first published in 1823 and attributed to Clement C. Moore – and called by virtually everyone “Twas the Night Before Christmas.”

So with illustrators Elena Almazova and Vitaly Shvarov, McColl put out the new version (published by Grafton and Scratch, in Spanish, English and French), with a note from Santa on the back flap that says his fur is fake and he has “decided to leave all of that old tired business of smoking well behind us.”

The reaction, McColl said, has been mixed: support from children’s advocates and pediatricians but strong criticism from librarians and those who oppose censorship.

“It bespeaks such a wholesale misunderstanding of what literature is or does,” Kipen said. “Given a choice of kids smoking or not smoking, I would come out on the side of kids not smoking. But I don’t think the means justify the ends.”

He added, "Smoking killed my dad, so it’s not like I'm an apologist for the devil weed."
McColl said she’s not out to eliminate the other versions of the tale.

“I didn’t run into any opposition until someone said he’s a historical figure. He’s not historical to the people I’m worried about. To children, he’s real. He’s coming down the chimney and he’s smoking in the middle of the living room,” she said.

As for Santa’s “chubby and plump” stature, McColl said she’ll leave that to others.

“He doesn’t eat in the story. That’s not my issue," she said. "That’s Jamie Oliver and other people’s issue.”



Fungal meningitis outbreak claims 20 lives

The number of deaths linked to a rare fungal meningitis outbreak rose to 20 on Thursday as health officials announced new evidence tying the illnesses to tainted steroid medication.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration, scientists have confirmed the presence of a fungus known as Exserohilum rostratum in unopened vials of preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate that were packaged by New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass.

The vials belonged to one of three lots of medicine that NECC had produced. The company has since been shut down.

"The laboratory confirmation further links steroid injections from these lots from NECC to the multi-state outbreak of fungal meningitis and joint infections," the FDA announced in a news release. "Testing on the other two implicated lots of methylprednisolone acetate and other NECC injectables continues."

CDC and state health departments estimate that approximately 14,000 patients were exposed to the tainted medication. The injections were primarily given as epidural injections to older patients.

The outbreak has focused intense scrutiny on the pharmaceutical compounding industry, which is not regulated by federal authorities. Instead, oversight falls to individual states.

In an article published online Thursday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, Dr. John R. Perfect wrote that physicians and healthcare providers should be prepared to observe patients for a period of months following injection with the tainted medication, as the illness can be extremely slow to develop.

Perfect was among a group of physicians who treated patients who became ill after being injected with the same compounded drug in 2002.

"We learned, or thought we learned, several important lessons," Perfect wrote of that earlier outbreak. "Compounding of preservative-free corticosteroids requires meticulous sterility to ensure lack of fungal contamination; in the absence of that level of sterility and in an environment of highly concentrated steroids, fungi grow aggressively."




Key facts

  • Tuberculosis (TB) is second only to HIV/AIDS as the greatest killer worldwide due to a single infectious agent.
  • In 2011, 8.7 million people fell ill with TB and 1.4 million died from TB.
  • Over 95% of TB deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, and it is among the top three causes of death for women aged 15 to 44.
  • In 2010, there were about 10 million orphan children as a result of TB deaths among parents.
  • TB is a leading killer of people living with HIV causing one quarter of all deaths.
  • Multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) is present in virtually all countries surveyed.
  • The estimated number of people falling ill with tuberculosis each year is declining, although very slowly, which means that the world is on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goal to reverse the spread of TB by 2015.
  • The TB death rate dropped 41% between 1990 and 2011.

Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that most often affect the lungs. Tuberculosis is curable and preventable.
TB is spread from person to person through the air. When people with lung TB cough, sneeze or spit, they propel the TB germs into the air. A person needs to inhale only a few of these germs to become infected.
About one-third of the world's population has latent TB, which means people have been infected by TB bacteria but are not (yet) ill with disease and cannot transmit the disease.
People infected with TB bacteria have a lifetime risk of falling ill with TB of 10%. However persons with compromised immune systems, such as people living with HIV, malnutrition or diabetes, or people who use tobacco, have a much higher risk of falling ill.
When a person develops active TB (disease), the symptoms (cough, fever, night sweats, weight loss etc.) may be mild for many months. This can lead to delays in seeking care, and results in transmission of the bacteria to others. People ill with TB can infect up to 10-15 other people through close contact over the course of a year. Without proper treatment up to two thirds of people ill with TB will die.

Who is most at risk?

Tuberculosis mostly affects young adults, in their most productive years. However, all age groups are at risk. Over 95% of cases and deaths are in developing countries.
People who are co-infected with HIV and TB are 21 to 34 times more likely to become sick with TB (see TB and HIV section). Risk of active TB is also greater in persons suffering from other conditions that impair the immune system.
About half a million children (0-14 years) fell ill with TB, and 64 000 children died from the disease in 2011. Tobacco use greatly increases the risk of TB disease and death. More than 20% of TB cases worldwide are attributable to smoking.

Global impact of TB

TB occurs in every part of the world. In 2011, the largest number of new TB cases occurred in Asia, accounting for 60% of new cases globally. However, Sub-Saharan Africa carried the greatest proportion of new cases per population with over 260 cases per 100 000 population in 2011.
In 2011, about 80% of reported TB cases occurred in 22 countries. Some countries are experiencing a major decline in cases, while cases are dropping very slowly in others. Brazil and China for example, are among the 22 countries that showed a sustained decline in TB cases over the past 20 years. In the last decade, the TB prevalence in Cambodia fell by almost 45%.

Symptoms and diagnosis

Common symptoms of active lung TB are cough with sputum and blood at times, chest pains, weakness, weight loss, fever and night sweats.
Many countries still rely on a long-used method called sputum smear microscopy to diagnose TB. Trained laboratory technicians look at sputum samples under a microscope to see if TB bacteria are present. With three such tests, diagnosis can be made within a day, but this test does not detect numerous cases of less infectious forms of TB.
Diagnosing MDR-TB (see Multidrug-resistant TB section below) and HIV-associated TB can be more complex. A new two-hour test that has proven highly effective in diagnosing TB and the presence of drug resistance is now being rolled-out in many countries.
Tuberculosis is particularly difficult to diagnose in children.


TB is a treatable and curable disease. Active, drug-sensitive TB disease is treated with a standard six-month course of four antimicrobial drugs that are provided with information, supervision and support to the patient by a health worker or trained volunteer. Without such supervision and support, treatment adherence can be difficult and the disease can spread. The vast majority of TB cases can be cured when medicines are provided and taken properly.
Since 1995, over 51 million people have been successfully treated and an estimated 20 million lives saved through use of DOTS and the Stop TB Strategy recommended by WHO and described below.

TB and HIV

At least one-third of the 34 million people living with HIV worldwide are infected with TB bacteria, although not yet ill with active TB. People living with HIV and infected with TB are 21 to 34 times more likely to develop active TB disease than people without HIV.
HIV and TB form a lethal combination, each speeding the other's progress. Someone who is infected with HIV and TB is much more likely to become sick with active TB. In 2011 about 430 000 people died of HIV-associated TB. Almost 25% of deaths among people with HIV are due to TB. In 2011 there were an estimated 1.1 million new cases of HIV-positive new TB cases, 79% of whom were living in Africa.
As noted below, WHO recommends a 12-component approach to integrated TB-HIV services, including actions for prevention and treatment of infection and disease, to reduce deaths. Through the implementation of this approach, an estimated 1.3 million lives were saved globally between 2005 and 2011.

Multidrug-resistant TB

Standard anti-TB drugs have been used for decades, and resistance to the medicines is growing. Disease strains that are resistant to a single anti-TB drug have been documented in every country surveyed.
Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is a form of TB caused by bacteria that do not respond to, at least, isoniazid and rifampicin, the two most powerful, first-line (or standard) anti-TB drugs.
The primary cause of MDR-TB is inappropriate treatment. Inappropriate or incorrect use of anti-TB drugs, or use of poor quality medicines, can all cause drug resistance.
Disease caused by resistant bacteria fails to respond to conventional, first-line treatment. MDR-TB is treatable and curable by using second-line drugs. However second-line treatment options are limited and recommended medicines are not always available. The extensive chemotherapy required (up to two years of treatment) is more costly and can produce severe adverse drug reactions in patients.
In some cases more severe drug resistance can develop. Extensively drug-resistant TB, XDR-TB, is a form of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis that responds to even fewer available medicines, including the most effective second-line anti-TB drugs.
There were about 310 000 cases of MDR-TB among notified TB patients with pulmonary TB in the world in 2011. Almost 60% of these cases were in India, China and the Russian Federation. It is estimated that about 9% of MDR-TB cases had XDR-TB.

WHO response

WHO's pursues six core functions in addressing TB.
  • Provide global leadership on matters critical to TB.
  • Develop evidence-based policies, strategies and standards for TB prevention, care and control, and monitor their implementation.
  • Provide technical support to Member States, catalyze change, and build sustainable capacity.
  • Monitor the global TB situation, and measure progress in TB care, control, and financing.
  • Shape the TB research agenda and stimulate the production, translation and dissemination of valuable knowledge.
  • Facilitate and engage in partnerships for TB action.
The WHO’s Stop TB Strategy, which is recommended for implementation by all countries and partners, aims to dramatically reduce TB by public and private actions at national and local levels such as:
  • pursue high-quality DOTS expansion and enhancement. DOTS is a five-point package to:
    • secure political commitment, with adequate and sustained financing
    • ensure early case detection, and diagnosis through quality-assured bacteriology
    • provide standardized treatment with supervision and patient support
    • ensure effective drug supply and management and
    • monitor and evaluate performance and impact;
  • address TB-HIV, MDR-TB, and the needs of poor and vulnerable populations;
  • contribute to health system strengthening based on primary health care;
  • engage all care providers;
  • empower people with TB, and communities through partnership;
  • enable and promote research.


They discover the closest exoplanet similar to Earth

A group of European astronomers has discovered a planet similar to Earth mass orbiting a star in the Alpha Centauri system, moreover, is the closest of its kind ever discovered. To achieve this finding the researchers used the HARPS instrument installed at the La Silla Observatory of the European Southern Observatory (ESO).

"Our observations lasted more than four years, using the HARPS instrument, and have revealed a tiny signal, but real, that shows a planet orbiting Alpha Centauri B every 3.2 days," said Xavier Dumusque Geneva Observatory, Switzerland, and Center for Astrophysics, University of Porto, Portugal, and author of the paper. To which noted that "it is an extraordinary discovery and has led our technology to its limits". But what is special about this discovery?

Alpha Centauri is the closest star system to our planet, which is about 4.3 light years away. Moreover this triple star system consisting of two stars orbiting sunlike near each other, is one of the brightest in the southern sky. This proximity to our planet is basic to the importance of the find, because the planet is similar to Earth's closest ever found.

However, despite the similarity with Earth harbors life difficult. In the words of Stephane Udry, co-author and belonging to the Geneva Observatory, "this is the first planet with a mass similar to Earth found around a sun-like star orbits very close to its star and should do too hot to support life as we know it. " Furthermore, by the same investigator "may be part of a system that has more planets. Others HARPS results and new discoveries of Kepler, clearly show that the majority of low-mass planets are found in this type of systems ".

And since it was discovered the first exoplanet orbiting a Sun-like star in 1995, the findings have not stopped succeed. More than 800 exoplanets have been confirmed, but most are larger than Earth and are more like Jupiter. As explained Dumusque Xavier himself, "This represents a major step towards the detection of a twin planet to Earth in the immediate vicinity of the Sun We live in exciting times".



Descubren el exoplaneta más cercano similar a la Tierra

Un grupo de astrónomos europeos acaba de descubrir un planeta de masa similar a la Tierra orbitando alrededor de una estrella en el sistema Alfa Centauri que, además, es el más cercano de estas características jamás descubierto. Para conseguir este hallazgo los investigadores utilizaron el instrumento HARPS instalado en el Observatorio La Silla del European Southern Observatory (ESO).

"Nuestras observaciones se prolongaron durante más de cuatro años, utilizando el instrumento HARPS, y han revelado una señal diminuta, pero real, que muestra un planeta orbitando Alfa Centauri B cada 3,2 días", ha explicado Xavier Dumusque del Observatorio de Ginebra, Suiza, y Centro de Astrofísica de la Universidad de Oporto, Portugal y autor principal del artículo. A lo que ha apuntado que "¡es un descubrimiento extraordinario y ha llevado nuestra tecnología hasta sus límites!". Pero, ¿qué tiene de especial este descubrimiento?
Alpha Centauri es el sistema estelar más cercano a nuestro planeta, situado a unos 4,3 años luz de distancia. Además este sistema estelar triple compuesto por dos estrellas similares al sol orbitando la una cerca de la otra, es uno de los más brillantes en los cielos australes. Esta cercanía a nuestro planeta es básica en la importancia del hallazgo, pues se trata del planeta de características similares a las de la Tierra más cercano jamás encontrado.
Sin embargo, a pesar del parecido con la Tierra, difícilmente alberga vida. En palabras de Stephane Udry, coautor del artículo y perteneciente al Observatorio de Ginebra, "este es el primer planeta con una masa similar a la de la Tierra encontrado alrededor de una estrella de tipo Sol. Orbita muy cerca de su estrella y debe hacer demasiado calor para albergar vida tal y como la conocemos". Además, según el mismo investigador "es posible que forme parte de un sistema en el que haya más planetas. Otros resultados de HARPS y nuevos descubrimientos de Kepler, muestran claramente que la mayor parte de los planetas de baja masa se encuentran en este tipo de sistemas".
Y es que desde que se descubriese el primer exoplaneta orbitando alrededor de una estrella tipo Sol en 1995, los hallazgos no han parado de sucederse. Más de 800 exoplanetas han sido confirmados, pero la mayoría son más grandes que la Tierra y se parecen más a Júpiter. Como explica el propio Xavier Dumusque, "Este resultado representa un gran paso adelante hacia la detección de un planeta gemelo a la Tierra en las inmediatas vecindades del Sol. ¡Vivimos tiempos emocionantes!".