Feds Hit LA In Medical Marijuana Crackdown

LOS ANGELES — Federal prosecutors looking to take out California’s medical marijuana shops have now set their sights on Los Angeles, where city officials have struggled to stop a blooming of dispensaries.

The U.S. attorney’s office sued three property owners that house pot collectives and sent warning letters to 68 others as they enforce a federal law that doesn’t recognize a California initiative that legalized pot for medicinal use.

The move Tuesday came nearly a year after federal authorities began targeting the state’s pot shops. The city’s own ban on dispensaries also is being challenged and could be overturned by voters if a referendum is placed on an upcoming ballot.

“As today’s operations make clear, the sale and distribution of marijuana violates federal law, and we intend to enforce the law,” U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. said.

California’s four U.S. attorneys pledged last October to curb pot collectives they said were running afoul of the law by raking in huge sums of money and serving as fronts for drug traffickers. Proponents argue the dispensaries are protected by California law that allows medicinal use of marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation.

David Welch, an attorney representing some of the Los Angeles collectives targeted by federal authorities, said he plans to file a lawsuit.

“I expected this to happen and we have planned for this contingency,” Welch said. “The future is a lot less certain considering what seems to be a full press by the federal government.”

Los Angeles passed an ordinance two years ago that was supposed to shutter hundreds of pot dispensaries while capping the number in operation at 70.

But a set of legal challenges against the city by collectives and the recent expiration of the ordinance due to a sundowner clause led to another surge of pot shops. City officials said more than 750 collectives have registered with the city and as many as 200 more could exist.

City officials have had a difficult time striking a balance between providing safe and affordable access to pot for people who need it for medicinal purposes while addressing neighborhood groups’ worries that streets were being overrun by dispensaries and pot users.

“The shops had an opportunity to work with the city on a path to legitimacy, but once again they chose short-term profits over long-term safe access for legitimate patients,” said Michael Larsen, president of the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council.

More than 175 California cities and 20 counties have banned retail pot shops, according to the medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access.

The state Supreme Court is expected to address whether local governments can ban medical marijuana clinics, but a hearing hasn’t been set by the high court.

Los Angeles could soon face a possible referendum on the latest ban approved by the city council. Council members must decide by next week whether to call a special election for the measure, repeal it themselves or put it on the March 2013 ballot.

 

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The Seventh Statin—Pitavastatin LIVALO® , Part 1: Clinical Studies

The Seventh Statin—Pitavastatin LIVALO® , Part 1: Clinical Studies

 

Pitavastatin is a synthetic HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor that significantly reduces the plasma levels of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides, while also causing modest elevation of the plasma HDL cholesterol level. Insights on pitavastatin from the clinical trials in the West and in Japan are discussed in this review.

n the Japanese dose-response trial, the LDL-C lowering effect of pitavastatin after 12 weeks was 34% (n=81) at a dose of 1 mg, 42% (n=75) at a dose of 2 mg, and 47% (n=76) at a dose of 4 mg.8 One report showed that 6 months administration of pitavastatin at 2 mg/d significantly reduced LDL-C, from 155 to 88 mg/dL, in 45 patients with diabetes.9

McDonald’s adding calorie counts to U.S. menus

 

Public Health

Last Updated: 2012-09-12 18:55:01 -0400 (Reuters Health)

By Lisa Baertlein

(Reuters) – McDonald’s Corp will begin telling diners next week how many calories are in its Big Macs (550) and French fries (500 for a large size).

The world’s No. 1 hamburger chain said on Wednesday it is going to start listing calorie information on menus in some 14,000 U.S. restaurants ahead of a national rule that will require larger restaurant chains to make the disclosures.

The state of California and cities like New York already require that calories be clearly listed on menus.

Under the new U.S. healthcare law, restaurants must soon clearly post calories and other nutrition details on menus. The rules target restaurants with 20 or more locations, as well as other retail food outlets. Most major chains have resisted, without legislation and the threat of fines.

McDonald’s, under pressure from consumer groups and public health advocates, has also taken steps to make menu items healthier.

It tweaked its popular Happy Meals for children – reducing the French fries portion by more than half and adding apples automatically to every order.

McDonald’s was slow to adopt calorie labeling. When the labeling requirements were gaining interest several years ago, a McDonald’s nutritionist told a group of health reporters in Los Angeles that the company opposed the rules because they violated customer privacy.

More than two years ago, Panera Bread Co became the first national restaurant chain to voluntarily post calories at company-owned stores. Sandwich chain Subway has used calorie disclosures to position itself as a healthier alternative to rivals like McDonald’s and Burger King Worldwide Inc.

Copyright © 2012 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. Reuters and the Reuters sphere logo are registered trademarks and trademarks of the Reuters group of companies around the world.

Copyright 2012 Reuters.

LexisNexis® Receives Health Care NCQA Certification as a Credentials Verification Organization 5/9/2012

LexisNexis® Receives Health Care NCQA Certification as a Credentials Verification Organization 5/9/2012

Certification demonstrates LexisNexis has a thorough understanding of verifying physicians and other medical professionals’ credentials

LexisNexis® Risk Solutions today announced that the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), a private, nonprofit that accredits and certifies a wide range of health care organizations, has certified LexisNexis Screening Solutions as a Credentials Verification Organization (CVO). LexisNexis Screening Solutions is the first general background screening provider to receive this important health care industry certification.

LexisNexis received NCQA certification for the following credentials verification services: license to practice, malpractice claims history, DEA registration, Medicaid/Medicare sanctions, medical board sanctions, work history, and education and training.

“Achieving CVO certification from NCQA demonstrates that LexisNexis has the systems, process and personnel in place to thoroughly and accurately verify providers’ credentials and help health plan clients meet their accreditation goals,” said Margaret E. O’Kane, NCQA President.

“We would like to thank the NCQA for receiving this valuable CVO certification,” said Lee Rivas, senior vice president and general manager, Screening, LexisNexis. “This healthcare certification ensures that we understand our customer’s challenges around industry compliance and liability. LexisNexis is setting a standard among screening providers, one that we hope others in our industry will follow to help advance the overall quality of service available to the health care market.”

CVO certification involves rigorous on-site evaluations conducted by a team of health care professionals and certified credentialing specialists to evaluate how an organization manages various aspects of its data collection and verification operations, and the process it uses to continuously improve its services. A national oversight committee of physicians analyzes the team’s finding and determines certification based on the CVO’s compliance with NCQA standards.

About LexisNexis Risk Solutions
LexisNexis Risk Solutions (www.lexisnexis.com/risk) is a leader in providing essential information that helps customers across all industries and government predict, assess and manage risk. Combining cutting-edge technology, unique data and advanced scoring analytics, we provide products and services that address evolving client needs in the risk sector while upholding the highest standards of security and privacy. LexisNexis Risk Solutions is part of Reed Elsevier, a leading publisher and information provider that serves customers in more than 100 countries with more than 30,000 employees worldwide.

LexisNexis Screening Solutions assist employers, non-profits and multi-family housing managers with making quicker and more confident applicant selections based on industry-leading background checks.

About NCQA
NCQA is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to improving health care quality. NCQA accredits and certifies a wide range of health care organizations. It also recognizes clinicians and practices in key areas of performance. NCQA is committed to providing health care quality information for consumers, purchasers, health care providers and researchers.

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Stephen Loudermilk
LexisNexis Risk Solutions
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FDA approves new treatment for a type of late-stage prostate cancer

Aug 31, 2012
By: From staff reports
Drug Topics

FDA approved enzalutamide (Xtandi, Astellas Pharma U.S. Inc. and Medivation) to treat men with late-stage (metastatic) castration-resistant prostate cancer:

that has spread or recurred, even with medical or surgical therapy to minimize testosterone.

Approved for prostate cancer patients previously treated with docetaxel, another cancer treatment, Xtandi was reviewed under FDA’s priority review program. Xtandi received FDA approval 3 months ahead of the product’s prescription drug user fee goal date of Nov. 22, 2012.

“The need for additional treatment options for advanced prostate cancer continues to be important for patients,” said Richard Pazdur, MD, in a press release. Pazdur is director of the Office of Hematology and Oncology Products in FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “Xtandi is the latest treatment for this disease to demonstrate its ability to extend a patient’s life.”

Prostate cancer forms in a gland in the male reproductive system found below the bladder and in front of the rectum. The male sex hormone testosterone stimulates the prostate tumors to grow. According to the National Cancer Institute, an estimated 241,740 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and 28,170 will die from the disease in 2012.

The safety and effectiveness of Xtandi was evaluated in a study of 1,199 patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer who had received previous treatment with docetaxel. The study was designed to measure overall survival in men receiving Xtandi compared with men receiving a placebo. The median overall survival for patients receiving Xtandi was 18.4 months, compared with 13.6 months for the patients who received placebo.

The most common side effects observed in study participants taking Xtandi were weakness or fatigue, back pain, diarrhea, joint pain, hot flush, tissue swelling, musculoskeletal pain, headache, upper respiratory infections, dizziness, spinal cord compression and cauda equina syndrome, muscular weakness, difficulty sleeping, lower respiratory infections, blood in urine, tingling sensation, anxiety, and high blood pressure.

Seizures occurred in approximately 1% of those receiving Xtandi. Patients in the study who had a seizure stopped Xtandi therapy. The clinical study excluded patients with a history of seizure, an underlying brain injury with loss of consciousness, a temporary decrease in blood to the brain within the past 12 months, a stroke, brain metastases, an abnormal connection of the arteries and veins in the brain, or patients taking medications that may lower the seizure threshold. The safety of Xtandi is unknown in patients with these conditions.

Organic Foods No More Nutritious, Safe than Conventional, Study Says

By Lindsey Konkel, MyHealthNewsDaily Contributor | LiveScience.com – 16 hrs ago

Organic foods are no more nutritious than conventionally grown foods, and no less likely to be contaminated with certain bacteria, according to a new review of studies.

However, organics were less likely to contain pesticide residues, or harbor bacteria that were resistant to antibiotics, compared with conventional alternatives, the study found.

Though farming practices vary, organic plants are generally grown without the use of pesticides or industrial fertilizers, and organically raised animals are not routinely treated with antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic foods typically contain no genetically modified organisms.

Consumers purchase organic foods for a number of reasons, including perceptions that organic foods may be safer or more nutritious than conventionally grown foods. However, the health benefits of organic foods remain unclear.

“Our aim was to understand the evidence about differences in nutrient and contaminant levels between organic and conventional foods,” said study researcher Dr. Crystal Smith-Spangler, an internist at the Stanford School of Medicine.

Though prices vary, consumers may pay up to twice as much for organic as conventional foods.

What the researchers found

Smith-Spangler and her colleagues analyzed data from more than 200 studies comparing nutrient and contaminant levels in organic and conventional foods, including fruits, vegetables, grains, meats, poultry, milk and eggs.

They found no significant differences between organic and conventional products, in terms of their vitamin content.

“Despite the widespread perception that organically produced foods are more nutritious than conventional alternatives, we did not find robust evidence to support this perception,” the researchers wrote.

Organic and conventional foods were about equally likely to be contaminated with disease-causing bacteria, such as E. coli and Salmonella. About 7 percent of organic produce, and 6 percent of conventionalCK produce was contaminated with E. coli. For chicken, 35 percent of organic, and 34 percent of conventional samples were contaminated with Salmonella.

But when the researchers looked at pesticide contamination and antibiotic resistance, conventional and organic foods differed.

The researchers found pesticide residue on 7 percent of the organic produce samples, but 38 percent of conventional produce samples. In all, organic produce had a 30 percent lower risk of containing pesticides than conventional produce.

The researchers also found that conventional chicken and pork were 33 percent more likely than organic products to harbor bacteria that were resistant to three or more antibiotics.

“The data on pesticides and antibiotic-resistant bacteria is very compelling, and in favor of organic foods,” said Charles Benbrook, chief scientist at the Organic Center, a Boulder, Colo. organization that promotes the benefits of organic food and farming.

However, the researchers said the difference between organic and conventional produce were only slight, in terms of how likely it was that the pesticide levels on the food reached the maximum acceptable limits. The risk of either type of produce exceeding regulatory limits may be small, Smith-Spangler said.

What the findings mean

Experts have debated the routine use of antibiotics in animal farming. The extent to which antibiotic use in livestock contributes to antibiotic-resistant infections in people remains unclear. Overuse of antibiotics in human medicine is likely the major cause of antibiotic-resistant infections in humans, according to the study authors.

“It is impossible to say from this study whether one method of farming is better than the other, though we are not seeing the negatives associated with organics that we are with some of the conventional products,” said Gene Lester, a plant physiologist for the Agricultural Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture in Maryland.

While the findings are interesting, he cautioned, they are far from definitive. Variation within organic farming practices, and differences in the way previous studies reported their findings make it difficult to draw conclusions, Lester said.

“We found very few studies that compared the health of human populations consuming largely organic versus conventional diets, so it is difficult to interpret the clinical significance of the findings,” Smith-Spangler said.

Future studies should investigate whether the decreased risk of exposure to pesticide residues in organic foods leads to real health improvements, particularly for pregnant women and children, Smith-Spangler said.

The review is published today (Sept. 3) in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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