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Chesapeake Bay Report Raises Concerns Over Marcellus Shale Fracking

Could the Marcellus shale gas drilling boom pose a threat to a Chesapeake Bay still trying to recover from pollution? A new report from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) suggests that hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, could endanger that recovery.

Fracking involves injecting water, sand, and a cocktail of chemicals at high pressure into rock formations thousands of feet below the surface. Drilling advocates claim the process is safe, but a number of scientists and public health experts have called the claim into question. Thanks to a move by Congress in 2005, fracking is exempt from federal regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act – deemed by fracking opponents the “Halliburton Loophole.” As a result, frackers don’t have to disclose the chemicals that make up their fracking fluids. (more…)

FDA Conducting Somatropin Safety Review

The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is investigating somatropin drugs after a study suggested they might be linked to an increased risk of death in certain patients. Somatropin, also called recombinant human growth hormone, is a protein that is manufactured to be nearly identical to the main form of the naturally occurring human growth hormone.

According to an FDA alert issued last week, a study conducted in France—the Santé Adulte GH Enfant (SAGhE) study—found that persons with certain kinds of short stature (idiopathic growth hormone deficiency and idiopathic or gestational short stature) treated with somatropin during childhood and who were followed over a long period of time, were at a small increased risk of death when compared to individuals in the general population of France. (more…)

Survey Finds Fracking Has Some Americans Worried

More Americans are aware of the gas drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, according to a new survey. And many are concerned about the impact fracking could have on water quality.

The fracking survey was conducted by the Civil Society Institute. The poll of more than 1,000 people found that more than half of all those surveyed had at least some awareness of the fracking issue, and that two out of three (69 percent) are “very” (40 percent) or “somewhat” (29 percent) concerned about water quality issues. Over half of Americans (56 percent) who are very/somewhat aware of fracking think state and federal officials are either “not doing as much as they should” (42 percent) or “not doing anything at all” (14 percent) to “require proper disclosure of the chemicals used in natural gas drilling.” (more…)

Is Medtronic Paying Doctors to Use Spine Devices?

A Wall Street Journal report is raising serious questions about the proliferation of spinal fusion surgery and Medtronic Inc.’s payments to doctors who perform such surgeries. According to the report, Medtronic is the biggest maker of spinal implants, and its spine business generated world-wide sales of $3.5 billion. That amounts to half the market for the products.

According to The Wall Street Journal, one spinal fusion surgery can involve tens of thousands of dollars worth of hardware. The procedure, which involves using metal plates, rods and screws to fuse together two or more vertebrae to alleviate back pain, is a relatively controversial procedure, according to the Journal. Some surgeons argue that a spinal fusion is appropriate only for a small number of conditions, such as spinal instability, spinal fracture or a severe curvature of the spine known as scoliosis. (more…)

MDL Sought for Darvon, Darvocet Lawsuits

A petition has been filed with the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation seeking to consolidate all federal Darvon and Darvocet lawsuits in a single federal court. Darvon and Darvocet recall was announced in November by Xanodyne Pharmaceuticals Inc. after they were linked to serious and often fatal heart rhythm problems.

A multidistrict litigation would allow all Darvon and Darvocet lawsuits to be coordinated under one judge for pretrial litigation to avoid duplicative discovery, inconsistent rulings and to conserve the resources of the parties, witnesses and the court. When lawsuits are consolidated as a multidistrict litigation, each retains its own identity. If the multidistrict litigation process does not resolve the cases, they are transferred back to the court where they originated for trial. (more…)

Is The Zadroga Bill Coming Back to Life?

After being declared all but dead, it seems there’s still a slim chance the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which would provide long-term help to World Trade Center responders who became ill because of exposure to toxic dust at Ground Zero, could still become law. Republicans in the Senate blocked debate on the Zadroga bill last week, but now a few key GOP Senators have said they will vote for the bill if it is introduced again. Advocates for our 9/11 heroes are now asking voters in every state to contact their Senator – regardless of their party affiliation – and insist that they pass the Zadroga bill. Information on how to contact your Senator is available at the US Senate website. (more…)

Avastin Breast Cancer Should be Revoked, FDA Says

If the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has its way, Avastin will no longer be approved as a treatment for advanced breast cancer. The agency announced today that it was beginning the process of revoking Avastin’s indication for advanced breast cancer, saying its risks outweigh its benefits. Avastin, the best selling cancer drug in the world, was the first approved therapy designed to inhibit angiogenesis, the process by which new blood vessels develop and carry vital nutrients to a tumor. In addition to breast cancer, its indications include metastatic colon cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, kidney, and glioblastoma multiforme, an incurable brain cancer. (more…)

Elderly Face Heart Attack, Bone Fracture Risk form Narcotic Painkillers

Darvon, Darvocet and other narcotic painkillers could be dangerous to elderly patients. A new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine has found that such painkillers – also known as opiods – increase the risk of heart attacks and broken bones in elderly arthritis patients.

The study focused on 12,840 Medicare patients in Pennsylvania and New Jersey treated between January 1999 and December 2005. According to The Wall Street Journal, it found that those treated with narcotic painkillers (also known as opiods) faced an 87 percent increased risk of death during the study, compared to NSAIDs like ibuprofen. (more…)

Darvocet Injured Heart, New York Lawsuit Claims

A 31-year-old New York woman says Darvocet, one of two painkillers recalled by Xanodyne Pharmaceuticals last month, caused her to suffer a near-fatal heart arrhythmia. She is now suing the drug maker in federal court. Darvocet is made with Propoxyphene and acetaminophen. Propoxyphene is an opiod painkiller that was already known to be highly addictive. In November, the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announced that Xanodyne Pharmaceuticals Inc. had agreed to pull the Darvocet, as well as Darvon (Propoxyphene alone) because of their association with heart rhythm problems. The agency said it was also asking the manufacturers of generic Propoxyphene-containing products to remove those products from the market. (more…)

Hydraulic Fracturing Debate Rages, as Proposed Drilling Rules for Delaware River Basin Unveiled

Draft regulations that could ultimately allow hydraulic fracturing to commence in the Delaware River Basin have been released by the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC). The DRBC estimates that there could one day be as many as 10,000 natural gas wells in the environmentally sensitive basin, which supplies water to several East Coast cities, including Philadelphia and New York City.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a drilling technique that involves injecting water, sand, and a cocktail of chemicals at high pressure into rock formations thousands of feet below the surface. Thanks to a move by Congress in 2005, fracking is exempt from federal regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act. As a result, the industry is not required to disclose the chemicals – some of which are known to be hazardous – that make up their fracking fluids. Environmentalists are concerned that the chemicals used in that fracking fluid could contaminate water supplies near drilling sites, and already, such drilling is suspected in several instances of water contamination around the country, including Pennsylvania.
(more…)

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