Health Highlights: May 28, 2015

By on May 28, 2015

Health Highlights: May 28, 2015

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Cancer-Spreading Hysterectomy Device Focus of FBI Investigation

A hysterectomy device found to spread uterine cancer is the focus of an FBI investigation.

Among other things, the agency wants to know what Johnson & Johnson — the largest manufacturer of the surgical tool called a laparoscopic power morcellator — knew about the device’s potential risks before halting sales last year, according to three people who have been interviewed by the FBI, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Last November, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned that morcellators shouldn’t be used on most women.

The FBI declined to comment about the probe and a Johnson & Johnson spokesman said the company isn’t aware of an investigation into the device, WSJ reported.

People interviewed by the FBI include a retired pathologist who informed Johnson & Johnson about potential problems with the morcellator in 2006, a doctor whose uterine cancer was worsened by the tool, and a woman who has gathered the names of nearly 400 patients and family members of patients who may have been harmed by the morcellator.

The device — which was used in tens of thousands of procedures a year, mainly hysterectomies — cuts up benign uterine growths called fibroids so the tissue can be removed through tiny incisions, WSJ reported.

However, morcellators can put patients at risk by spreading undetected uterine cancer, according to the FDA.


Live Anthrax Spores Sent Accidentally to U.S. Labs

The Pentagon accidentally shipped live anthrax spores to government and commercial laboratories in at least nine states and one overseas location, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday.

All of the labs had expected to receive dead anthrax spores for testing purposes, the Associated Press reported.

“At this time, we do not suspect any risk to the general public,” CDC spokeswoman Kathy Harben told the wire service.

The U.S. government has confirmed that one lab in Maryland received live spores. Officials suspect, but have not yet confirmed, that anthrax samples sent to labs in eight other states also contained live spores, the Associated Press reported.

The other eight states were Texas, Wisconsin, Delaware, New Jersey, Tennessee, New York, California and Virginia, the wire service said.

Another anthrax sample from the same batch was sent to a U.S. military laboratory at Osan air base in South Korea; no personnel there have shown signs of exposure, he said, and the sample was destroyed, according to the AP.

Shipment of the samples has been halted until an investigation has been completed, officials told the AP.

Contact with anthrax spores can cause severe illness. Harben said that all samples involved in the investigation will be securely transferred to the CDC or other laboratories for further testing.

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