Weekly Update 3/2/12

Spring is not waiting for the Vernal Equinox.  Spring didn’t even wait for winter – it feels like it has been here for a while.  Daffodils are already in full bloom around town, tulips up.  If you were planning on coming to town to see the cherry blossoms, you may want to note the fact that it is looking increasingly as if they will pop early.   And one gets the sense that summer may start in late March and given the election year, it is bound to be a long, hot summer.

It certainly heated up this week around here.  And these are a few things that were interesting from my vantage point, which admittedly was limited due to another hectic week:

  • Graphic Cigarette Packs – Not So Much – A not so surprising development this week when the U.S. District Court in Washington struck down the proposed graphic packaging for the marketing of cigarettes in the U.S.  The court had already put the packs on hold last Fall and struck down the effort saying that it violated the First Amendment of the Constitution, essentially because the images weren’t designed to convey information but to evoke an emotional response.  Mum was the word from FDA in the wake of the ruling but HHS issued a rather vague statement expressing determination to “warn young people about the dangers of smoking” and confidence that efforts to stop the packaging will “ultimately fail.”
  • NIH Launches Genetic Testing Registry – Change happens.  Only a few years ago, the need for a registry to track genetic testing might have seemed very futuristic but today is reality.  This week NIH announced such a registry.  According to the release there are now genetic tests available for approximately 2500 diseases (who knew?) representing a field with a rapid growth rate.  Information included will be the “purpose of each genetic test and its limitations; the name and location of the test provider; whether it is a clinical or research test; what methods are used; and what is measured.”  You can find the registry here.
  • Statins Get a New Label Warning But I Forget Why – Just kidding – on the latter part anyway.  FDA announced this week safety changes in labeling for statins used to lower cholesterol.  The changes to the labels involve a revision to remove the need for routine periodic monitoring of liver enzymes.  That is interesting in and of itself.  In addition, the label will add information about some patients experiencing some memory loss and confusion, though the reports were termed as having “not been serious” – which raises a question.  Also included is information about increases in blood sugar levels.  More on some of this next week.

Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, I hope you have a wonderful weekend.  That’s all for me this week.  (Photo taken by friend Anne Hainsworth and used with permission)

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