HEALTH

Research says 500 deaths of children annually tied to cough-cold medicines

BY Michael Johnsen

ELK GROVE, Ill. Research published Thursday in the American Academy of Pediatrics official journal Pediatrics determined that there is an estimated 500 pediatric deaths a year associated with children’s cold and cough medicine.

“Up until this new research, officials assumed that there were only 3 or 4 deaths a year from these medications,” said Jeffery Chamberlain, co-founder of Honey Don’t Cough, who performed the mathematical extrapolation. “Deaths have been drastically underreported because when a child gets sick and dies, doctors assume that the death was solely related to the illness itself. Typically, no one thinks to check for toxic medications that could have contributed to the death.”

“We have suggested that our state Medicaid program initiate a public education campaign regarding the risks associated with use of OTC cough and cold medicines since poor, publicly insured families may be more likely to give these products to their infants,” said Mary Ellen Rimsza, lead author of the article “Unexpected Infant Deaths Associated With the Use of Cough and Cold Medications,” and chair of the Arizona Child Fatality Review Program.

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Bausch & Lomb announce new corporate VP

BY Michael Johnsen

ROCHESTER, N.Y. Bausch & Lomb on Wednesday named Susan Roberts as a corporate vice president, the company announced. She is the company’s chief compliance officer, having been named to this post in 2006, and heads the global pharmacovigilance and safety surveillance groups.

Roberts joined Bausch & Lomb in 1995 after several years in private practice as a trial lawyer at Harter, Secrest & Emery. She then held positions of increasing responsibility in the Bausch & Lomb law department, including serving as vice president and assistant general counsel.

Roberts holds a J.D. cum laude from the Albany Law School of Union University and a Bachelor’s degree from Binghamton University.

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WebMD, FDA form partnership

BY Michael Johnsen

ROCKVILLE, Md. The Food and Drug Administration and WebMD, which attracts nearly 50 million unique visitors each month, on Wednesday announced a collaboration that expands consumer access to the agency’s health information.

The joint effort reflects the FDA’s emphasis on using innovative, technology-based strategies to carry out its foremost mission, which is to promote and to protect the public health, the agency stated.

“We are enthusiastic about this collaboration with WebMD because it will enable us to reach more consumers with accurate, science-based information that can help them improve their health,” stated Andrew von Eschenbach, FDA commissioner. “This is an important step forward in our effort to form partnerships to help bring timely safety alerts and other public health information to a wider audience in the most effective and convenient way.”

The partnership includes a new online consumer health information resource on WebMD.com (www.webmd.com/fda) where consumers can access information on the safety of FDA-regulated products, including food, medicine and cosmetics, as well as learn how to report problems involving the safety of these products directly to the FDA. In addition, WebMD will bring the FDA public health alerts to all WebMD registered users and site visitors that request them. The cross-linked joint resource will also feature FDA’s Consumer Updates—easy-to-read articles that are also posted on the FDA’s main consumer web page.

FDA Consumer Updates will also be featured at least three times a year in WebMD’s bimonthly magazine, which reaches nearly 9 million consumers. The magazine is distributed to physician office waiting rooms across the country.

Consumers have increasingly consulted all types of sources to find health information, and the Internet is their fastest growing resource, according to a national study released in August 2008 by the Center for Studying Health System Change. Researchers found that 32 percent of American consumers conducted online health searches in 2007, compared with 16 percent in 2001.

The study also found that most consumers who researched health concerns reported positive outcomes. More than half of those surveyed said the information changed their overall approach to maintaining their health. Four in five said the information helped them better understand how to treat an illness or condition.

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