Today's Medical News From Newspapers, TV, Radio and the Journals. Prepared exclusively for members of American Medical Association In affiliation with US News and World Report
Customized Briefing for Dr. Jarir Nakouzi Monday, November 3, 2008
Leading the News Advisory panel criticizes FDA decision on BPA safety.
On the front page of its Business section, the Washington Post (11/1, D1, Shin) reported, "The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made mistakes when determining that a widely used chemical found in baby bottles and other plastics was harmless, and the agency should redo its risk assessment, an FDA advisory panel ruled" on Friday. Yet, "the report's authors told the Science Board advisory panel that they could not say whether BPA was harmful, or whether it should be banned in food and beverage containers. They left that to FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach, M.D., to decide." The FDA Science Board is comprised "of scientists drawn from academia, government, and industry." It "advises the FDA commissioner," and it voted unanimously on Friday "to accept a report done by a subcommittee that blasted the agency's recent risk assessment of bisphenol-A (BPA)."
The Science Board also "agreed with the finding that that the FDA was wrong to base its August decision that BPA is safe only on studies funded by the chemical industry," USA Today (11/1, Szabo) added. The "excluded studies suggest that BPA, which acts like the hormone estrogen, could pose harm to children at levels at least 10 times lower than what the agency allows." Authors of the report wrote that "excluding this evidence of harm 'creates a false sense of security' about BPA...and 'overlooks a wide range of potentially serious findings.'" Notably, "many consumers and environmentalists at the meeting urged the FDA to act now to protect infants from BPA, even as it continues to evaluate research."
According to Bloomberg News (11/1, Blum), BPA "has been linked in some research to diabetes and developmental changes in children." In addition, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association last month concluded that "adults exposed to higher levels of BPA are twice as likely to develop cardiovascular disease or diabetes." Furthermore, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that "93 percent of Americans have traces of bisphenol-A in their urine." The panel's decision simply "adds to criticism of the FDA by lawmakers and consumer groups who said the agency supported, without rigorous investigation, the safety of a product in widespread use to stiffen plastic and line metal cans."
MedPage Today (10/31, Walker) reported that "some scientists and consumer groups have warned that the chemical might contribute to some cancers, early puberty, alterations of the prostate and urinary tracts, and behavioral problems." Toxicologist Martin Philbert, Ph.D., of the University of Michigan School of Public Health, and chairman of the science subcommittee, "said he understands why the FDA assessment relied so heavily on two studies from a field of many BPA studies, because 'good laboratory practice' studies tend to use more animals, and readily submit raw data for independent analysis." Still, he stated that "the subcommittee disagrees that those two studies were the only 'acceptable' studies to be used, and said more recent research must be considered." Philbert also "criticized the FDA for not including demographic information to determine the likely number of people exposed at each BPA concentration, and for relying on too few formula samples -- which were from the early 1990s and all from one city -- in making a determination about BPA in baby formula."
The Wall Street Journal (11/1, Favole), UPI (11/2), AHN (11/2, Goodhue), HealthDay (10/31, Reinberg), WebMD (10/31, Zwillich), and the Washington Post (10/31, Shin, et al.) Checkout blog also covered the story.