Wednesday Briefing

Missing data from early trials on experimental medicines can harm patients, a study says.  Scientists writing in the British Medical Journal found that much drug trial evidence goes unreported, and that in other cases pharmaceutical firms provide inadequate data. The widespread problem “distorts the scientific record,” the authors concluded. Reuters

Federal regulators restrict the use of a class of antibiotics in livestock. The restriction, considered a modest step, is a response to concerns that giving livestock the medicines, known as cephalosporins, is contributing to the growing threat of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections in people. But regulators appear to be backing away from a broader proposal to ban farmers from putting penicillin and tetracyclines in animal feed. The New York Times, Wired

Farmers and food companies lobby the Obama administration to ease upcoming dioxin standards. The federal guidance, expected to come out this month, would urge consumers to limit their consumption of the chemicals, which are associated with cancer and immune system and hormone problems. People are exposed to dioxins mainly through meat, dairy products and fish. The Wall Street Journal, FoodProductionDaily.com

Drug maker responds to cancer concerns raised over an experimental weight loss drug. Arena Pharmaceuticals submitted new data to the Food and Drug Administration in its bid to win approval for lorcaserin, one of three obesity treatments so far rejected by the agency for safety reasons. Cancerous tumors were found in rats given lorcaserin in a two-year study, but the company said the growths were associated with a hormone that has not been linked to tumors in people. Reuters

President Obama signs the pipeline safety bill into law. The bill was spurred by the September 2010 gas line explosion that killed eight people in a San Bruno, Calif., neighborhood. It raises fines and calls for hiring more inspectors, but does not include a federal agency’s recommendation to require automatic shut-off valves on existing pipelines in heavily populated areas. Los Angeles Times

France’s nuclear safety watchdog orders an estimated $13 billion in renovations to protect the nation’s 58 reactors against natural disasters. The safety assessment was prompted by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan last year. Frances gets about 75 percent of its power from nuclear energy. Reuters, The Wall Street Journal

Consumer groups sue the Food and Drug Administration over nanotechnology. The consumer advocates are trying to push the federal agency to require labeling, and extra scrutiny, of ingredients in foods and other products developed with the tiny particle technology. FoodNavigator-USA.com

Infant formula is declared safe following the death of two babies and the illnesses of two others. Federal authorities found no evidence of the rare cronobacter bacteria in Enfamil Newborn powder, which officials investigated after a Missouri infant who reportedly was fed the formula died last month. Chains stores have begun restocking the formula that was under investigation.  USA Today, The Wall Street Journal

Hospice accused of defrauding Medicare. The U.S. Justice Department joined a whistleblower lawsuit against Arkansas-based AseraCare, which operates 65 hospice centers in 19 states. Authorities, who have launched a crackdown on suspected fraud in the industry, said the chain cheated the government out of millions of dollars by enrolling elderly patients who weren’t terminally ill. Bloomberg

Compiled by Stuart Silverstein

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