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VA To Add Illnesses to Agent Orange List

The Department of Veterans Affairs wants to add three new illnesses to the list of Agent Orange-related health problems for which veterans can seek compensation. The U.S. military sprayed more than 19 million gallons of herbicides, most commonly Agent Orange, during its military campaign in South Vietnam. Exposure to Agent Orange has been linked to…

Court Rules California Can Enforce Laws on ‘Downer’ Cows

California has the right to prohibit the slaughter and inhumane treatment of “downer” cows for consumption, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday. The decision overturned a preliminary injunction granted by a district court in favor of the National Meat Association, which had argued that federal law on handling animals trumps state law. The…

More Miners Eligible for Black Lung Benefits Under Health Reform Law

Coal miners may have an easier time claiming federal benefits for black lung disease under a provision in the recently passed health care bill. The legislation allows long-time miners with serious lung impairment to qualify for compensation from a joint federal-private fund, even without medical evidence that their disease was contracted on the job. An…

Drug Maker Hired Private Eye to Investigate FDA Officials

A generic drug company paid a private investigation firm more than $100,000 to gather information about two high-ranking Food and Drug Administration officials, Politico reports. The company, Amphastar Pharmaceuticals Inc., was waiting for an FDA decision on whether to approve its version of a drug for blood clots. The company hired New York-based Kroll to…

Iowa Law Would Loosen Gun Restrictions, Follow National Trend

Iowa sheriffs would be mostly stripped of authority to deny a gun carry permit under a bill passed by both houses of the state’s legislature. The bill, which must be signed by the governor, also says gun permits issued in other states would be valid in Iowa without review by the state’s public safety commissioner….

A Cautionary Tale of Toxins and Safety

Can we trust manufacturers of everyday products to make sure they’re safe? The New York Times columnist David Leonhardt questions whether industry self-policing is enough to ensure consumer safety and offers the cautionary tale of a denture cream that may have killed. Read Leonhardt’s column on toxins and safety here.

Interactive Map Visualizes California Water Pollution Problems

Water polluters in California are concentrated along the coast, mostly dumping sewage and industrial waste, and contaminating groundwater, according to an interactive map produced by a California environmental group. The map, developed by California Coastkeeper Alliance, is based on penalties issued by state and regional water boards for “serious” and “multiple chronic” violations of water…

Are Kids More Likely To Smoke Menthol Cigarettes?

The FDA gets into the business of regulating tobacco today. The regulation of tobacco is now a reality. Today marks the first public meeting of the Food and Drug Administration’s advisory panel set up to deal with complex scientific issues involving tobacco.

Cholesterol Pill to be Used in Prevention, Despite Skepticism

Drug maker AstraZeneca has secured approval to market its cholesterol-lowering drug to adults without cholesterol problems, despite some questions over the drug’s safety. From The New York Times: Among the risks raising new concerns, recently published evidence indicates that statins could raise a person’s risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 9 percent. “It’s a good thing…

The Troubling Link Between Big Pharma and the American Psychiatric Association

First the good news: The Physician Payment Sunshine Act is now law, signed by President Obama as part of the health care bill overhaul. Starting in 2012, drug and medical device companies must report all consulting, speaking and other payments to doctors and teaching hospitals in excess of $100 annually to the federal Department of Health and Human Services, which will post the payments on a public website. This is an important first step toward making transparent the pervasive financial ties between doctors who are studying or promoting specific drugs and medical devices and the companies that manufacture these products.