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Why The FDA Has Never Looked At Some Of The Additives In Our Food

food additivesCompanies have added thousands of ingredients to foods with little to no government oversight. That's thanks to a loophole in a decades-old law that allows them to deem an additive to be "generally recognized as safe" — or GRAS — without the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's blessing, or even its knowledge.

The loophole was originally intended to allow manufacturers of common ingredients like vinegar and table salt — when added to processed foods — to bypass the FDA's lengthy safety-review process. But over time, companies have found that it's far more efficient to take advantage of the exemption to get their products on shelves quickly.


Georgia governor signs bill to legalize medical marijuana

Nathan DealGeorgia Gov. Nathan Deal, signed a bill Thursday legalizing medical marijuana in the state, but questions still remain about how patients who desperately need the drug will get it.

The bill, which took effect immediately, makes it legal for people who suffer from end-stage cancer and other debilitating diseases to possess up to 20 ounces of cannabis oil with a physician's approval and a state permit. But it's still illegal to cultivate, manufacture and sell marijuana in Georgia, which means patients would have to trek to other states where growing and cultivating is legal, such as Colorado. Since the federal government still outlaws possession of marijuana, crossing state lines could pose significant problems.


Reports to Feds on deadly bacteria outbreaks arrived late

supre bugsReports alerting federal officials that contaminated medical scopes appeared to be spreading deadly superbugs among hospital patients sometimes arrived months late – or not at all, according to federal records and interviews.

Medical device makers are required to file reports to the Food and Drug Administration within 30 days of learning that a product may pose safety risks. But as duodenoscopes were tied to the transmission of drug-resistant bacteria among patients in at least eight U.S. hospitals from 2012-2014, the agency wasn't notified of some outbreaks until long after they occurred, an ongoing USA TODAY investigation finds. And in some cases, the disclosures never were filed.


Big Tobacco Sues FDA Over New Packaging Guidelines

big tobaccoThe nation's largest tobacco companies are suing the Food and Drug Administration over recent guidelines that they claim overstep the agency's authority over labeling and packaging for cigarettes and other tobacco products.

Units of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, Altria Group Inc. and Lorillard Tobacco filed the lawsuit Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, claiming the FDA's guidance infringes on their commercial speech.


90% of Adults Now Have Health Insurance

90% in US have health insuranceUnderlining a change across the nation, nearly 9 out of 10 adults now say they have health insurance, according to an extensive survey released Monday.

As recently as 2013, slightly more than 8 out of 10 had coverage.

Whether the new number from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index turns out to be a high-water mark for President Barack Obama's health care law, or a milestone on the path toward his goal of getting virtually all U.S. residents covered, remains to be seen.


Doctors Without Borders to launch rescue ship

rescue ship DWBThe humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders said Friday it would begin involvement in a rescue operation of Mediterranean Sea migrants to Europe.

The non-governmental organization, based in Geneva, Switzerland and formally known as Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), announced it would have a patrol boat of its own on the Mediterranean Sea from May to October to provide search, rescue and medical air operations. Thousands of people are expected to attempt to travel from North Africa and the Middle East to Europe in search of asylum and relief from human rights violations and military conflict.


Missouri health care navigator law pre-empted, court rules

Health insuranceAn appeals court ruled Friday that Missouri can't limit health insurance navigators' ability to help people obtain insurance under President Barack Obama's health care law — a ruling that advocates say could have implications for other states that have instituted similar restrictions.

The 8th Circuit Court in St. Louis blocked some parts of a Missouri law that limits the information certified counselors authorized by the health care law could give people seeking health insurance. However, the court said the state can institute licensure requirements for navigators and counselors.


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