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Daily Rounds: FDA In Hot Seat On Meningitis; Coke's Beauty Drink; Zombie Teens; Romney's Binders Of Equality

Meningitis Deaths Rise, FDA Faces New Questions (Reuters) — "The FDA is also under scrutiny. While it has limited authority to regulate pharmacies like NECC, it had flagged violations at the company as recently as 2006. On Wednesday a U.S. House of Representatives panel investigating the outbreak gave the FDA until October 31 to turn over its documents related to NECC, including communications with state regulators and the agency's commissioner, dating back to 2004. The panel said it heard from FDA staff last week that the agency had been assured by NECC of the pharmacy's compliance in early 2007. But the FDA representatives could not confirm whether the agency then took any steps to ensure corrective measures had been taken. An FDA spokesman said the agency had received the letter and would respond directly to the panel."

Coca-Cola, Sanofi Form Pilot Venture To Test 'Beauty Drink' (Bloomberg) — "Coca-Cola Co. (KO) and Sanofi (SAN) set up a joint venture to sell health drinks at French pharmacies, a pilot project to test demand for beverages with beauty claims. The beverages, called Beautific and sold under the brand name Oenobiol, will be available within months, the two companies said in separate statements. Coca-Cola, the world’s largest soft-drink maker, will handle formulation and Sanofi will oversee distribution, according to the French drugmaker. Sanofi is looking to diversify to reduce its reliance on prescription drugs while Coca-Cola faces pressure to offer healthier beverages amid rising obesity rates. The first four drinks will help with hair, weight loss, sun exposure and general vitality, according to a Sanofi presentation obtained by Bloomberg. The product, designed to appeal to active urban women aged 25 to 45, will cost between 2 euros ($2.60) and 3 euros a bottle, the document shows. “The blockbuster model is broken, and drugmakers have been turning to consumer health-care,” Pierre Corby, an analyst at Aurel BGC in Paris, said in a phone interview."

Understanding The Zombie Teens Body Clock (The Wall Street Journal) — "Only 7.6% of teens get the recommended 9 to 10 hours of sleep, 23.5% get eight hours and 38.7% are seriously sleep-deprived at six or fewer hours a night, says a 2011 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It's a biological 1-2-3 punch. First, the onset of puberty brings a median 1.5-hour delay in the body's release of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, says Mary Carskadon, a professor of psychiatry and human behavior at the Brown University medical school and a leading sleep researcher. Second, "sleep pressure," or the buildup of the need to sleep as the day wears on, slows during adolescence. That is, kids don't become sleepy as early. This sleep delay isn't just a passing impulse: It continues to increase through adolescence, peaking at age 19.5 in girls and age 20.9 in boys, Dr. Carskadon's research shows. Finally, teens lose some of their sensitivity to morning light, the kind that spurs awakening and alertness. And they become more reactive to nighttime light, sparking activity later into the evening. Dr. Carskadon says letting teens set their own schedules can lead to a downward spiral. Teens left to their own devices tend to cycle later, soaking up stimulating light from their computers. This can further delay sleep by 2½ to 3 hours."

Mitt Romney's Version Of Equal Rights ( The New York Times) — "But then he started a slow, painful slide into one of the most bizarre comments on this issue we’ve ever heard, which became an instant Internet sensation. “We took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet,” Mr. Romney said, sounding as if that were a herculean task. An appeal to women’s groups, he said, “brought us whole binders full of women.” This was important, he said, because “I recognized that if you’re going to have women in the work force that sometimes they need to be more flexible. My chief of staff, for instance, had two kids that were still in school.” At this point we could practically hear his political consultants yelling “Stop!” But Mr. Romney did not. “She said, I can’t be here until 7 or 8 o’clock at night. I need to be able to get home at 5 o’clock so I can be there for making dinner for my kids and being with them when they get home from school.” Flexibility is a good policy. But what if a woman had wanted to go home to study Spanish? Or rebuild an old car? Or spend time with her lesbian partner? Would Mr. Romney have been flexible about that? Or if a man wanted similar treatment? True equality is not satisfied by allowing the little lady to go home early and tend to her children."

This program aired on October 18, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.

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