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Top health stories of 2008

Because baby boomers are health conscious, I’ve been looking for a listing of 2008’s best health news, but haven’t been able to find a consumer-oriented one.

“In Case You Missed It: What Happened in Health in 2008,” the cover story for the December 2008 issue of the Health Letter, arrived in the mail and solved my problem with its consumer-point-of-view article. The newsletter is produced by the Public Citizen Health Research Group, a consumer research, education, and advocacy organization.

Here are the Public Citizen Health Research Group’s the top health stories:

  • A study showed that Vytorin (combining Zetia and Lipitor) worked no better than Zocor alone – which costs 1/16 as much in its generic version simvastatin – in reducing artery plaque that can lead to heart attacks.
  • A California meat company was forced to order the largest beef recall in U.S. history. “Downer” cows, which are unable to walk, were being slaughtered. The use of these cows as food for humans is banned by the U.S. Department of agriculture.
  • The deaths of 81 people from heparin, a blood thinner, imported from China drew attention to the problem of contaminated drugs from China. As a result of the problems with imported drugs, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration received additional funding for monitoring. In 2007, the FDA had only conducted 14 inspections in China although 714 establishments there sell drugs to U.S. firms.
  • The clotting drug Trasylol was taken off the market by Bayer after the FDA wasn’t able to identify any group in which the benefits of the drugs were outweighed by the risks. The drug is used during heart surgery.
  • The vote by the New York City Board of Health to list calories on menus and menu boards was reaffirmed.
  • The number of physicians in the U.S. who favor national health insurance has increased to 59 percent. It was 49 percent five years ago.
  • Canada banned the use of BPA in baby bottles. BPA is a widely used chemical in hard plastic food containers. After convening a task force to develop recommendations, the FDA released a draft report upholding the current safety standards for BPA in food. The agency’s recommendation was based on two studied conducted by the food industry.
  • Life expectancy declined between 1983 and 1999 in certain U.S. counties. Among women, the decline was due to increases in diabetes and lung cancer. For men, HIV infection and homicide were the cause.
  • Problems with the U.S. system for monitoring food safety were revealed when tainted tomatoes and jalapeno peppers affected more than 1,200 people in 43 states in a salmonella poisoning outbreak.
  • The FDA was given authority by Congress to regulate tobacco products.
  • The FDA guidelines for using experts on its advisory committees with potential conflicts of interest were tightened.
  • Infant formula tainted with melamine, an industrial chemical used to artificially increase the protein content of products, caused several deaths and more than tens of thousands of cases of illness in China. The Chinese government kept journalists from publicizing the story until after the Olympic Games.
  • A provision in the bailout package will require health care insurers to provide the same coverage for mental health services that are provided for physical health services beginning in 2010. An estimated 113 million people will be affected.
  • The American Diabetes Association is advising against the use of Avandia – generic name rosiglitazone – because of the drug’s serious risks, including liver failure and an increased risk of heart attacks, heart failure, bone fractures, anemia, and macular edema with vision loss.

To obtain a copy of the December 2008 issue of Health Letter, send a check for $3, payable to Public Citizen, to Health Letter, 1600 20th Street N.W., Washington, DC 20009 or call 202-588-1000 for more information or to order by credit card. An annual subscription for 12 issues of the Health Letter is available for $18.

Copyright 2009, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist


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Marvin D WilsonM


What a wonderful and useful blog! Thanks for visiting Tie Dyed Tirades and leaving this URL for me. I'm going to add this to the TDT blogroll - I'm sure lots of my readers over there would find value in this blog too.

Agree totally on the scrip durg over-use with old boomers, btw. Sigh, we just gotta get juiced on something don't we?


Hi Marvin,

Thank you for the compliment on my blog.

I appreciate your adding me to your blogroll.



Your idea for this topic is amazing.

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Thanks for sharing these stories with us. These stories would definitely affect a lot of people around the world.

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Very insightful piece of writing. Keep it up!

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