Common pain medication literally turns woman’s blood blue

New England Journal of Medicine(NEW YORK) — The term “blue blood” took on a new meaning for a 25-year-old woman who checked into a Rhode Island emergency room with complaints of fatigue and shortness of breath, as well as a more unusual symptom: her blood was turned navy blue.

The patient, whose account was documented in a New England Journal of Medicine case study, told doctors she had used an over-the-counter medication to treat a toothache.

“I’m weak and I’m blue,” she told the ER doctors.

Dr. Otis Warren, the ER doctor on duty at Miriam hospital that night, diagnosed the woman with “acquired methemoglobinemia,” a rare blood disorder in which the body isn’t getting enough oxygen. While the disorder can sometimes be genetic, in the case of the Rhode Island patient it was triggered by taking large amounts of a medication containing benzocaine, a common ingredient in topical pain relievers and cough drops.

In 2018, the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning about benzocaine, advising that children younger than 2 should not take products that contained it. The agency also cautioned adults that benzocaine could cause methemoglobinemia, which can be “life-threatening and result in death.”

There have been over 400 cases of benzocaine-related methemoglobinemia since 1971, according to the FDA.

After running tests, doctors found that the Rhode Island patient’s hemoglobin and blood oxygen levels were low, which can put patients at risk for heart failure, coma or death. Doctors subsequently administered an antidote called methylene blue, which improved her breathing and bluish skin tone. By the time she left the hospital, her symptoms had completely subsided.

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Antonio Brown, facing sexual assault allegations, cut by Patriots after 1 game

Sports News Antonio Brown, facing sexual assault allegations, cut by Patriots after 1 game

littleny/iStock(BOSTON) — Antonio Brown played just one game for the New England Patriots before the team released the star wide receiver, who’s facing multiple sexual assault allegations.

Brown seemed to confirm his release in a tweet, writing, “Thank you for the opportunity.”

He later tweeted, “The marathon continues.”

“The New England Patriots are releasing Antonio Brown. We appreciate the hard work of many people over the past 11 days, but we feel that it is best to move in a different direction at this time.,” the Patriots said in a statement Friday.

Brown was traded to Oakland from Pittsburgh in March and signed a three-year, $50 million extension, but after feuding with the NFL over his helmet type and with Raiders management, his contract was voided and he went on to sign with the Patriots.

He caught four passes for 56 yards and a score in a 43-0 blowout win over Miami on Sunday.

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Posted On 20 Sep 2019

President Trump issues executive order to improve flu vaccine

Pornpak Khunatorn/iStock(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump signed an executive order aimed at developing better flu vaccines to defend Americans against both seasonal influenza and the possibility of a future pandemic outbreak.

Seasonal flu “kills tens of thousands of Americans each year,” Alex Azar, secretary of Health and Human Services, said in a statement. A faster vaccine production process would help keep Americans safe from both types of flu outbreaks, Azar said.

Thursday’s executive action ordered the creation of a flu vaccine task force, with input from various federal agencies and headed up by Azar and the secretary of defense. For now, the executive order does not allocate any additional funding toward vaccine development or production.

Scientists develop each year’s flu vaccine months or even up to a year in advance, but vaccine efficacy can vary widely. In recent years, the flu vaccine has not been well-matched to that year’s virus. In 2018, for example, the flu vaccine was only 30% effective.

Regardless of efficacy in a given year, medical professionals still recommend getting the flu vaccine, which greatly reduces influenza hospitalizations overall.

“We’ve been struggling for about 10 years now,” Richard Webby, a faculty member in the infectious disease department at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, told ABC News.

When manufacturers produce each year’s stock of vaccines, they either grow the virus in animal cells or in fertilized chicken eggs. Part of the problem in recent years, the virus has mutated when introduced into the chicken eggs.

“We pick a strain that we think is going to be well-matched, but when that virus goes into eggs, it changes a bit,” explained Webby. But that doesn’t mean that we should give up on eggs, which have long been the mainstay for flu vaccine production, Webby said, nothing that instead, we should diversify our vaccine portfolio.

Dr. Peter Hotez, professor and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, told ABC News that while he appreciated the president highlighting “one of our greatest infectious disease threats,” he didn’t understand why flu vaccine development and innovation had been so sluggish.

It’s also not clear how Trump’s task force advances the flu vaccine efforts made by previous administrations, experts said. Past presidents had similarly prioritized and allocated funding for vaccines, including $91 million in 2013 to GlaxoSmithKline and the Texas A&M University System, to develop flu vaccine manufacturing facility.

Still, Hotez acknowledged barriers to rapid innovation. “The profit margin for flu vaccinations is not high,” he said. “It requires quite a lot of upfront investment to completely re-do an age-old manufacturing process.”

He also stressed the value in a national push to develop what he called the dream vaccine, a universal flu vaccine Americans could receive once and be protected in future years, instead of returning year after year for immunization against the latest virus.

“Why are we still tethered to 20th-century technology?”

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FDA to consider ads targeting youth in applications to sell e-cigarette products

sestovic/iStock(WASHINGTON) — The Food and Drug Administration has proposed a new rule that outlines the process for tobacco companies to apply to sell e-cigarettes and vape products, as the number of vaping-related illnesses tracked by the Centers for Disease Control continues to increase.

The FDA has warned e-cigarette companies that they are illegally marketing products by selling them without going through the agency’s “premarket review” process, where the FDA evaluates information about the product to determine if it is appropriate for public health to have the product on the market.

The rule is not the enforcement plan discussed by the president and other officials that they say would effectively ban flavored e-cig or vaping products, but the FDA will likely use these requirements to take products off the market that don’t have the proper approvals. An agency spokesperson said the FDA had authorized no e-cigarette or vaping products currently on the market under this requirement.

The FDA, which regulates tobacco products, has been looking at the rules around e-cigarettes and vaping products since officials began raising concerns about rapidly growing e-cigarette use among young people, but the newly proposed rule would apply to any new form of tobacco product.

“This proposed rule follows our announcement last week that we intend to finalize a compliance policy in the coming weeks that would prioritize enforcement to clear the market of unauthorized, non-tobacco-flavored e-cigarette products,” Acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless said in a statement. “These important regulatory actions are part of our ongoing oversight of e-cigarettes and other tobacco products that is critical to our public health mission and, especially, to protecting kids from the dangers of nicotine addiction and tobacco-related disease and death.”

The rule proposed Friday would add more detail to the requirement that tobacco companies submit information to the FDA about the health and safety of new tobacco products so the agency can decide if they should be sold and whether any additional restrictions are warranted.

The rule says the FDA will evaluate the marketing plans for specific electronic tobacco products to look at the potential for young people to access the product.

The FDA does have the authority to restrict companies marketing tobacco products to limit exposure of young people to the products, including blocking radio or television ads and requiring online and social media advertising to be targeted to adults.

In previous guidance to tobacco companies applying to sell e-cigarettes, the FDA only recommended they share marketing materials and demographics of the customer base. The FDA has required changes to marketing when it has approved new products in the past.

“FDA also recommends sharing your marketing plan to enable FDA to better understand the potential consumer demographic,” the agency says in guidance to companies released in June.

The new rule would add the marketing plan and information about how the company will avoid youth exposure to the product as part of the product application.

But the agency also said it did not plan to enforce requirements that all new e-cigarette or tobacco products have approval from the FDA to put those products on the market. That has recently shifted, and the FDA has warned companies that they can’t describe their product as safer than traditional cigarettes without their approval.

“FDA does not, at this time, intend to enforce these requirements for components and parts of deemed products that are sold or distributed solely for further manufacturing into finished tobacco products, and not sold separately to the consumer,” FDA said in the June document.

Lawmakers are expected to press officials from the FDA on the agency’s past approach to e-cigarettes, saying the lack of enforcement contributed to the current public health crisis. Members of a new bipartisan “End Youth Vaping” caucus said Thursday they plan to pursue legislative responses to the crisis like taxing e-cigarette products or raising the legal age to purchase tobacco if they aren’t satisfied with the administration’s response.

“The recent surge in the vaping related illnesses shows that we are desperate for more federal regulation of these dangerous products, Congress simply cannot afford to sit back and watch as these companies keep operating as if nobody is paying attention,” Rep. Diane DeGette, D-Colo., said Thursday.

“It’s frankly unfortunate that it takes so many people to get sick and even die across this country before we really pay the attention that we should. We need to get these products out of the hands of our kids, and we need to do it now.”

DeGette is the vice chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has a hearing on public health concerns around e-cigarettes next week. A House Oversight subcommittee also has a hearing scheduled on the outbreak of vaping-related illnesses.

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Video experiment tracking the lives of pre-teens shows confidence dips as kids age

Deborah Roberts sits down with several parents whose kids were featured in Samantha Skey’s new video series about pre-teens. (ABC News)(NEW YORK) — “I feel less confident than five years ago because now there’s a lot more pressure with what you wear, or even academically.”

“Five years ago I was steadily confident in what I was doing and now … it kind of changes but mostly depending on what I look like.”

These are just some of the words from teens echoed in a video project, Hatch Kids, that follows a group of 25 New York-based kids over the course of five years.

The project looks at how pre-teens between the ages of 9 and 14 change over time, ultimately eliciting conversations on parenthood, gender identity, self love and academic pressure.

“I want us to look at this particular age window, because I think it’s fundamental to long-term confidence,” said Samantha Skey, CEO of SHE Media, the digital media company that oversaw the Hatch Kids project.

“They’re going through puberty at the same time with perpetual feedback from social media,” she said. “I believe social media directly infringes upon confidence.”

In the opening of the video, a young child proudly says, “I am the awesome-ist.”

Another says, “If a boy says you can’t do it because you’re a girl, I’ll just be like, ‘I can do it if I want to and you’re not the boss of me.’”

Flash forward several years later, and the video shows several kids in their teens admitting they feel insecure or less confident.

Fourteen-year-old Jojo says in the video, “I focus a lot on what other people think of me and how other people view me instead of how I should be viewing myself.”

“This age, 14, is a very hard age,” said Skey. “It’s a hard age to feel ownership of your person hood, in terms of sort of integrating the different impulses and feelings you have.”

“It was a loss of innocence and it was a loss of confidence in a lot of cases,” she added.

Some parents of kids in the Hatch Kids project told Good Morning America they were surprised by how their kids felt after those five years.

“She seemed so confident,” said Felicia King, the mother of 14-year-old Gabrielle. “I was not fully expecting as big a dip.”

Skey too found that over the course of the five years, social media played a big role in how kids developed and saw themselves over time. King’s daughter Gabrielle is one example.

“I compare my posts to other people,” said Gabrielle. “Why don’t people like my posts? Is it because I’m not good enough? Whenever my picture doesn’t have a lot of likes or comments after the first hour, I just delete it.”

In 2017, Good Morning America set up a similar experiment in which a group of 15-to-17-year-old girls candidly discussed the stresses they face, especially as a result of how pervasive social media is in their lives.

The same year, the American Psychological Association (APA) released a report that found approximately 79 percent of parents said that their teens use social media. Additionally, 69 percent of the parents of teen girls reported that they worried about the influence of social media on their child’s health, compared to only 39 percent of parents of teen boys.

At least two parents of kids in SHE Media’s video project told GMA that knowing what they know now, they wish they had held off on giving their kid a phone and limited television time as well.

Skey plans to continue to explore the group of kids in the Hatch Kids project through their high school years.

The kids’ parents predict they’ll continue to experience life as a roller coaster, but want other parents to know that it’s going to be all right.

“I want parents to take away that the kids are gonna be OK,” said Peter McCabe, father of 14-year-old Jojo. “That everyone — all people go through stages, not just through adolescence but through the rest of your life.”

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