Articles Posted in Product Safety

covidmichmayo-300x203The campaign to conquer the coronavirus pandemic is having its cautious optimism tested by a stubborn and concerning surge of cases in the Midwest and Northeast, as well as frustrating vaccine supply problems — worsened by manufacturing bungles in a Baltimore plant.

Expert forecasters now see options for how the crucial next several months could go in the battle against the disease. These include an effective vaccination program outpacing the rise of variants (including the B117 strain that has become the most common in this country) and quashing the pandemic, to the viral mutations getting out of control and the nation limping into persistent and unchecked infections for a long time.

In Michigan, where one of the worst outbreak rages (see Mayo Clinic hot spot map, above), the governor and state officials have found themselves in a public policy quandary, uncertain whether stern health restrictions may have lost their public support to be effective now after showing results before. But in California, officials are waiting and watching to see if plunging infections, hospitalizations, and deaths will reverse as they have elsewhere.

carpeddeathssoar-300x166Although Americans drove far fewer miles in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the pedestrian death rate skyrocketed nationally, with blacks, Latinos, and Native Americans dying in disproportionate numbers when struck by motorists.

Preliminary data from the first half of last year shows that roughly the same number of pedestrian deaths occurred — 3,000 or so. But those fatalities happened when the nation recorded a more than 16% decline in vehicle miles traveled.

And the deaths in 2020 continued an ugly, decade-long trend in which pedestrian killings increased 46%, compared with a 5% increase in the same period for other vehicular fatalities. The Governors Highway Safety Association reported the sobering data and observed this:

oxylabel-300x180Members of the plutocratic Sackler clan have upped the ante yet again in a bankruptcy court bid to settle thousands of lawsuits targeting Purdue Pharmaceutical, the company long in the family’s grip and  blamed for untold misery in the now-resurgent opioid abuse and drug overdose crisis.

The latest, and perhaps final plan submitted to the courts for approval would oust the family from Purdue, converting it into a public trust company.

The Sacklers say they will add a billion dollars more from the family’s formidable fortunes to sums that would be extracted from the company itself.

drugoverdosedeathscdc-300x131Although the Biden Administration may be winning Americans’ approval for its battle against the coronavirus pandemic, drug abuse experts have expressed rising worry that federal efforts are lagging in the fight against a rising health menace: the resurgent opioid abuse and drug overdose crisis.

While overdoses for the first time might claim 100,000 U.S. lives in a single year, the national campaign to quell the opioid crisis, a top priority not that long ago, has become almost an “afterthought” for policy makers in Washington, D.C., the medical news site Stat reported:

“According to interviews with leading doctors, lobbyists, members of Congress, and multiple Biden Administration aides, proposed reforms include billions of new dollars for treatment and recovery services, a deregulation of addiction treatment medications, making many of 2020’s emergency telehealth allowances permanent, and scaling up harm-reduction offerings like needle exchanges, fentanyl test strips, and naloxone [an overdose antidote] distribution. But over a month into Biden’s presidency, it’s not clear when, or even if, a major push on addiction treatment will happen. Even if one does, it’s an open question whether it will lead to modest changes or the more radical approach some advocates say the crisis deserves.”

airliftwatertexasfreeze-300x227The climate change deniers can holler their heads off. But for all too many people from coast-to-coast, Mother Nature’s fury is tragically clear — as is the importance of not only future thinking but also emergency planning, by individuals and institutions.

This includes knowing common sense steps to safeguard one’s self and loved ones, in unusual circumstance, from misuse and abuse of ordinary products that also may have their own shortcomings, defects, or dangers.

Huge hurrahs, of course, are in order for the overworked, overstressed, and valiant doctors, nurses, and other health workers who — even while battling the over load of the coronavirus pandemic — have kept up medical services in hard hit areas of Texas and elsewhere during a brutal winter storm and its harsh freeze. The nightmarish conditions afflicted not only big hospitals but also those who provide desperately needed at-home care to the vulnerable.

chartjhavax-300x189The national campaign to quash the coronavirus pandemic with what appears to be a highly safe and effective means — new vaccines — has hit more chop as the Biden Administration pushes to increase supplies, sites, and credible public information about the shots.

While the White House has worked with makers to boost the complex production of vaccines  and officials are ferreting out unused stashes, demand still exceeds supplies, and rotten weather in the central part of the country disrupted deliveries of millions of shots, causing coast-to-coast cancellations of appointments for patients hoping to get shots. This snag affected the region around Washington, D.C.

The White House has said the supply chains will be restored, pronto.

autonomouscrash-300x173The race to deal with the existential threat of climate change by making millions of vehicles smarter, more efficient, and environmentally friendly may be on a collision course with safety concerns.

As the Los Angeles Times reported, concerns are rising among consumer advocates that makers have zoomed ahead with entrepreneurial and engineering advancements in vehicles, even as expert regulators went AWOL in the era of the business-enthralled 45th president.

Whither the future of road- and product-safety in an era of autonomous or self-driving and all electric vehicles?

cardinalhealthlogo-300x110While too many Americans struggle with skyrocketing prescription drug costs, so much so that a $10 insurance co-payment may be lethally dissuasive, Big Pharma firms are seeking billions of dollars in taxpayer-funded benefits on giant settlements they made for their role in the opioid abuse and drug overdose crisis.

Johnson & Johnson and the “big three” distributors of prescription drugs — McKesson, AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal Health — have disclosed that they will take tax deductions on sums they will fork over to states, local governments, Indian tribes, and others that sued them over damages that they say occurred after they flooded the country with powerful painkillers, the Washington Post reported.

The four companies have agreed to pay between $5 billion and $8 billion each to reimburse communities for the costs they suffered in dealing with millions of deaths, addictions, and debilitations caused by opioids, their synthetic versions, and illicit drugs they opened the door to.

After months of giving chaotic and counter-factual guidance — or none at all — on the coronavirus pandemic, the federal government now under President Biden has weighed in on vital concerns: individuals redoubling their self-protection, notably by wearing better or two face masks, and safely reopening schools for younger kids.

The new counsel from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may rile parts of the public, notably teachers’ unions and those who have fought health restrictions with cavalier and extreme claims that they somehow infringe on their personal rights.

babechow-200x300Although parents exult when their babies start eating solids, moms and dads may be dishing up for their little darlings unexpected and harmful ingredients in commercially prepared foods — heavy metals, including arsenic, cadmium, and lead at levels that may exceed federal limits.

A subcommittee of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform received lots of media attention when it publicly reported its findings on problems it says it sees with baby products from the likes of Gerber, Walmart, Campbell Soup, and Sprout organics.

Some of the makers, at the panel’s request, provided data on their products and testing for toxins, while others declined the disclosure of did not respond. As the Washington Post reported:

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