Health Highlights: April 16, 2015

Health Highlights: April 16, 2015

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

USDA to Release Proposed Standards for Organic Fish

Proposed standards for U.S.-raised organic fish and shellfish are expected to be introduced this year by the Agriculture Department, but it could be years before such products are available in stores.

It has taken more than a decade to draft the proposed standards. Consumers could have access to U.S.-raised organic seafood within two years, but only if USDA finalizes the standards quickly and seafood companies support them, the Associated Press reported.

The organic products could include salmon, catfish, tilapia, shrimp and mollusks such as oysters, mussels and clams.

The U.S. is “trying to play catch-up on organic aquaculture,” Miles McEvoy, head of the USDA’s organic program, told the AP. Canada, European Union nations, and other countries are already exporting organic seafood to the U.S.

There are concerns about the proposed U.S. standards. For example, many in the farmed fish industry believe the requirements for fish feed will be so strict that they won’t be financially feasible.

“The challenge is, will consumers will be willing to pay for it?” Sebastian Belle, head of the Maine Aquaculture Association, told the AP. “The markets will decide that,” said Belle, who has advised the USDA on the proposed organic seafood rules.

On the other side, some environmental and consumer groups are worried that standards won’t be strict enough.


New Heart Failure Drug Approved by FDA

A new heart failure drug has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Amgen’s Corlanor (ivabradine) is the first new heart failure drug in a dozen years. Another heart failure pill from Novartis is being approved by the FDA and could be approved this summer, the Associated Press reported.

In studies funded by the drug makers, both new drugs significantly reduced hospitalizations and deaths from heart failure.

The new drugs work differently and target slightly different groups of patients, according to Dr. Mary Norine Walsh, a vice president at the American College of Cardiology vice president and head of heart failure treatment and cardiac transplantation at St. Vincent Heart Center in Indianapolis, the AP reported.

“The No. 1 thing is going to be how expensive” the drugs are and whether insurers set high co-pays — if they even cover them,” Walsh said. “When we say to a patient that we’ll replace your medicine that you can get for $4 (as a generic), nonmedical decision-making will come into play.”

Corlanor’s list price will be $375 a month, without insurance, according to Amgen. Novartis has not set a price for its new heart failure drug, the AP reported.


Glass Particle Scare Spurs Beech-Nut Baby Food Recall

About 1,920 pounds of baby food have been recalled by Beech-Nut Nutrition because products may contain small pieces of glass, the U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service says.

The recall is for 4-ounce glass jars of “Stage 2 Beech-Nut CLASSICS sweet potato & chicken,” that have the number P-68A inside the USDA mark of inspection, an expiry date of “DEC 2016,” and the product numbers “12395750815” through “12395750821.”

The baby food was produced on Dec. 12, 2014 and shipped to stores across the United States.

The recall was announced after the company received a complaint from a consumer who found a small piece of glass in the baby food, and also received a report about a mouth injury associated with eating the baby food.

For more information, consumers can call Beech-Nut at 866-674-4446.