Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
U.S. Senate Passes Food Safety Bill
A bill that would make major changes to the United States' food
safety system was passed by the Senate Tuesday in a 73 to 25
The bill would give the Food and Drug Administration expanded
powers to ensure food safety in order to prevent outbreaks of
The New York Times reported.
For example, the FDA would have new powers to recall tainted
foods, increase inspections of food plants, and force farms and
food manufacturers to follow stricter safety standards.
Even though the Senate bill has wide bipartisan support, it may
not reach President Barack Obama's desk before the end of the
current congressional session. The House passed its own version of
the bill last year and there may not be enough time for lawmakers
to work out differences between the two bills.
However, leading House Democrats have indicated they would
consider passing the Senate version to speed approval, the
Egg Producer Given OK to Resume Sales: FDA
The Iowa egg farm linked to a widespread salmonella outbreak
earlier this year has been given permission to resume sales of
shell eggs to consumers, the Food and Drug Administration announced
More than 1,600 salmonella illnesses were linked to Wright
County Egg, which had to recall 380 million eggs. FDA inspectors
found insects, rodents, dead chickens and huge piles of manure at
the farm, the
Associated Press reported.
Since the outbreak and recall, the company has not been allowed
to sell shell eggs except to breaker facilities that pasteurize the
On Tuesday, FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg said Wright County
Egg had implemented corrective measures and the "time had come" for
the company to resume shell egg sales from one of its six farms,
Low U.S. Health Ranking Due to Health Care System: Study
Health care system inefficiency explains why the United States
ranks 49th in life expectancy even though it spends more on health
care than any other nation, according to a new study.
Researchers at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia
University analyzed World Health Organization data from 1975 to
2005 in order to compare the U.S. and 12 other industrialized
The New York Times reported.
During that time, the U.S. had the highest increase in health
care costs and the lowest increase in life expectancy. The
researchers said statistical evidence shows that obesity, smoking,
traffic accidents and murder are not the cause of lower life
expectancy in the U.S. The problem is the health care system.
"Smoking and obesity are still major risk factors for an individuals health," researcher Dr. Peter A Muennig told The Times. "But they are sapping life expectancy in all countries. Whereas in the U.S. we have a highly inefficient health system thats taking away financial resources from other lifesaving programs."
But one expert criticized the study, published in the November
issue of the journal
"The basic message is correct -- that measures of U.S. health, including mortality and morbidity, are very poor in comparison with other countries," Samuel Preston, a demographer and a professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, told The Times.
But the study authors "have no direct evidence about the health
care system in this article," Preston said. "Their conclusion is
Drug Use Implicated in a Third of Fatal Car Crashes
Drugs were detected in one-third of drug tests performed on U.S.
drivers killed in crashes last year, a 5 percent increase since
2005, according to a National Highway Transportation Safety
Administration report released Tuesday.
The tests revealed that drivers had taken drugs ranging from
prescription pain killers to hallucinogens,
USA Today reported.
Last year, 63 percent of drivers killed last year were tested
for drugs, a 7 percent increase from 2005, said the NHTSA.
The number of driver fatalities involving drugs is "alarmingly
high" and more states need to make it a crime to have any amount of
illegal drugs in the body while driving, Gil Kerlikowske, director
of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, told
Currently, only 17 states have such laws.