Report studies emergency-room visits, deaths among children
NEW YORK The majority of emergency-room visits of pediatrics that were caused by cough/cold medicines were the result of overdosing and occurred primarily in children younger than two years of age, according to a report published in the April 2009 Annals of Emergency Medicine.
“In our sample, pediatric fatalities caused by nonprescription cough and cold medications were uncommon, involved overdose and primarily affected children younger than 2 years,” wrote Richard Dart, author of the report. “The intent of caregivers appears to be therapeutic to relieve symptoms in some cases and nontherapeutic to induce sedation or to facilitate child maltreatment in other cases.”
Researchers investigated 189 emergency-room visits. Of these, 118 were judged possibly, likely or definitely related to a cough and cold ingredient.
Of the 118 cases, 103 involved a nonprescription drug, whereas 15 cases involved a prescription medication alone. Out of the 103 cases associated with nonprescription drugs, the evidence indicated that 88 involved an overdosage. A dosage could not be assessed in the remaining 15 cases.
Several contributing factors were identified, the authors noted. Many of the patients were less than 2-years-old; some of the parents were using the medicines to sedate their child; in some cases, the medicines were administered in a daycare setting; in other cases, there was use of two separate ingredients with the same ingredient; in some instances, parents failed to use a measuring device; and some parents administered a nonprescription product intended for adult use.
“The age group of children younger than 2 years was the most commonly involved,” Dart wrote. “Their small size may facilitate inadvertent administration of an overdose. It is also harder for young children than for older children to communicate emerging adverse effects to their caregiver,” he said. “A potential contributor to the predominance of young children is the fact that the package label of nonprescription cough and cold medications does not provide dosing information for children younger than 2 years.” And hasn’t, incidentally, since late 2007 — the Consumer Healthcare Products Association and its member companies voluntarily withdrew all pediatric medicines labeled “consult your physician” for children under two in favor of “do not use” in children under two.
All cases that occurred in a daycare setting involved a child younger than 2 years, researchers noted.
CDC updates swine flu cases to 91
ATLANTA The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated the number of confirmed swine flu cases to 91 late Wednesday morning, up from 46 the day before, and confirmed one death.
Incidences of swine flu are now apparent in 10 states — Arizona (1), Califorina (14), Indiana (1), Kansas (2), Massachusetts (2), Michigan (2), Nevada (1), New York (51), Ohio (1) and Texas (16). The death occurred in Texas.
“The outbreak of disease in people caused by a new influenza virus of swine origin continues to grow in the United States and internationally,” the CDC stated. “The more recent illnesses and the reported death suggest that a pattern of more severe illness associated with this virus may be emerging in the U.S. Most people will not have immunity to this new virus and, as it continues to spread, more cases, more hospitalizations and more deaths are expected in the coming days and weeks.”
CDC has implemented its emergency response. The agency’s goals are to reduce transmission and illness severity, and provide information to help health care providers, public health officials and the public address the challenges posed by the new virus. Yesterday, CDC issued new interim guidance for clinicians on how to care for children and pregnant women who may be infected with this virus.
Young children and pregnant women are two groups of people who are at high risk of serious complications from seasonal influenza. In addition, CDC’s Division of the Strategic National Stockpile continues to send antiviral drugs, personal protective equipment and respiratory protection devices to all 50 states and U.S. territories to help them respond to the outbreak. The swine influenza A (H1N1) virus is susceptible to the prescription antiviral drugs Tamiflu (oseltamivir) and Relenza (zanamivir).
“This is a rapidly evolving situation and CDC will provide updated guidance and new information as it becomes available,” the agency stated.
NPF: Dietary supplement industry contributes $60B to national economy
WASHINGTON A new study funded by the Natural Products Foundation has determined the total economic contribution of the dietary supplement industry to exceed $60 billion dollars, or 0.5% of the national GDP, according to a statement issued Wednesday.
“Not only does the dietary supplement industry represent an important and growing component of the U.S. economy, it is interconnected in essential ways with many other industries,” wrote the study’s authors. “For example, the dietary supplement industry contributes to [spending] in other industries, such as retail and wholesale trade; real estate, rental and leasing; finance and insurance; professional, scientific, and technical services; and manufacturing.”
Dietary supplements generate more than $20 billion in annual consumer sales, but the industry’s overall economic contribution goes well beyond the direct purchase of goods, NPF stated.
The Economic Impact Report, completed by Dobson DaVanzo, a Washington-based economic research firm, is the first to quantify the dietary supplement industry’s total financial bearing on the national economy. It considers multiple tiers of contributing factors, including supply, production, research, direct employment, manufacturing and taxes, as well as these dynamics’ longterm financial effects.
“Most industry assessments typically focus on retail sales,” stated Tracy Taylor, NPF executive director. “Realistically though, sales are really just the tip of the iceberg. … The labor, materials and technology necessary to move any product from staging grounds to the final sale trigger a cascade of economic consequences,” she said. “Consider for example that the dietary supplement trade generates enough activity throughout production and sales to support over 450,000 jobs, and that industry concerns paid more than $10 billion dollars in taxes in 2006.”
Moreover, the dietary supplement industry’s influence is expanding, growing at a rate that exceeds inflation. While health care providers are usually given a “market basket” increase of between 2% and 3% to account for medical and other price increases, the dietary supplement industry is steadily growing at a rate of more than 5% per year.