Restrictions on Cold and Cough Medicines Are Cutting Children’s Emergency Room Visits, Study Says

U.S. researchers say medicine safety measures for toddlers and infants appear to be paying off. Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found significant decreases in emergency hospital visits by young children for suspected problems linked to cold and cough medicines since 2007. That year drug makers voluntarily withdrew products intended for children younger than 2. The companies also revised labels on other medicines to warn parents that they shouldn’t be given to children younger than 4. According to the study, children under 2 accounted for 4.1 percent of emergency visits for suspected drug-related effects before 2007, but only 2.4 percent afterward. Among 2- to 3-year-olds, the comparable figure was 9.5 percent before medicine labels were changed, but 6.5 percent afterward. The New York Times, HealthDay

Proposed U.S. rule could open up the generic drug industry to more potential legal liability. The Food and Drug Administration proposed allowing generic drug companies to change their drug labels after getting reports of bad reactions in patients. It would mean that generic companies—which sell about 84 percent of prescription drugs in the U.S.—would have the same ability to update their labels as brand-name drug makers. In rulings in 2011 and again this year, the U.S. Supreme Court shielded generic drug makers from consumer personal injury lawsuits because they can’t unilaterally change language on the label. Critics have argued that it makes little sense that consumers’ right to sue depends upon whether a person took a brand-name drug or the generic equivalent. The Wall Street Journal

Lobbyists spurred “grass-roots effort” that helped defeat European proposals to regulate e-cigarettes. The European Parliament voted last month to scrap the proposals to regulate e-cigarettes as a medicinal product, which would have restricted their sale to pharmacies in many countries of the 28-nation bloc and imposed costly certification procedures on producers. The parliament’s decision did not end the argument, but it lifted an immediate cloud threatening a business that some analysts predict could be bigger than tobacco within a decade. To defeat regulation, e-cigarette companies drew on their products’ users to protest regulations that might limit availability of the battery-powered devices and flavored nicotine fluids on the market. The New York Times

Lung cancer cases rise 59 percent over a decade in smoggy Beijing. Health officials in the Chinese capital say smoking is the No. 1 cause of the disease but they acknowledge that the city’s choking air pollution also is a factor. According to the state-run Xinhua news agency, the number of lung cancer cases jumped to just over 63 per 100,000 people in Beijing in 2011, up from slightly under 40 per 100,000 people in 2002. The findings follow last week’s report by Xinhua about China’s youngest-ever lung cancer patient, an 8-year-old girl from Jiangsu province. In her case, air pollution was given as the likely cause. As FairWarning has reported, in the U.S., too, factors other than smoking account for a significant number of lung cancer cases. Medical Daily, BBC News

Businesses criticize U.S. proposal for a public database of workplace injuries at large companies. The flap over the U.S. Department of Labor plan is the latest chapter in a decades-long debate between industry and government over how much information the government should collect and disseminate about the estimated 3 million workers injured or sickened at work annually. The proposed rule would require 38,000 companies—those with 250 employees or more—to provide a detailed quarterly report of major injuries at a worksite. Safety advocates argue that public information about injuries could boost regulatory efforts and highlight workplace safety. But some companies say details about workplace incidents can be misleading and misused. The Wall Street Journal

Compiled by Stuart Silverstein

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