Archive for the ‘Injury Reduction’ Category
PHAI’s Gottlieb co-authors article on strategies to reduce cancer from indoor tanning, FDA seeks stronger regulation of lamps
Tuesday, May 7th, 2013
An article released today in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine by Holman et al. focuses on strategies to reduce indoor tanning. Indoor tanning with sun lamps (as opposed to spray tanning) increases the risk of malignant melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. This is particularly alarming because about one-third of white women(who are a high risk for skin cancer than others) in the U.S. have used sun lamps to tan within the past year averaging about 27 sessions over that time. Many indoor tanning salon users are at even greater risk for skin cancer because 74% of tanning salons fail to adhere to FDA guidelines for tanning frequency. The International Agency for Research on Cancer recently elevated tanning beds to its highest risk category as carcinogenic to humans. Only 2 states prohibit tanning by minors (CA and VT).
There are some similarities between the way the indoor tanning and tobacco industries operate. In fact, it appears that the tanning industry may be following the tobacco industry’s lead, particularly in its use of front groups and creating doubt around the science around the harm their products cause.
In 2010, the Federal Trade Commission settled a complaint against the Indoor Tanning Association for making deceptive claims about the risks and the benefits of indoor tanning.
In addition to legislative approaches to the problem and addressing research needs, one important intervention would be for the Food and Drug Administration to change the medical device classification for sunlamp products from class I to class II. Class I is the medical device class used for tongue depressors. Today, the FDA pre-published proposed rules to reclassify sunlamps as class II devices (they will be published on May 9, 2013 and available here). Class II medical devices include products such as infusion pumps and surgical drapes.
Under the rules proposed today, manufacturers would have to: a) demonstrate to the FDA that indoor tanning lamps are safe for individuals; b) adjust UV wavelength to “appropriate” levels; c) install alarms and timers to prevent sunburn; and d) require users to read labels warning them of the dangers of UV exposure, including discouraging individuals under the age of 18 or those with a family history of cancer. Not only will these new requirements improve safety and reduce exposure to UV radiation indoors, they will also provide a strong reason for states to consider passing new or strengthening existing laws regulating tanning salons.
See: “Strategies to Reduce Indoor Tanning: Current Research Gaps and Future Opportunities for Prevention,” by Dawn M. Holman, MPH; Kathleen A Fox, MPP; Jeffrey D. Glenn, MPA; Gery P. Guy, Jr., PhD; Meg Watson, MPH; Katie Baker, MPH, DrPH(c); Vilma Cokkinides, PhD; Mark Gottlieb, JD; DeAnn Lazovich, PhD; Frank M Perna, EdD, PhD; Blake P Sampson, BS; Andrew B. Seidenberg, MPH; Craig Sinclair; Alan C. Geller, MPH, RN (DOI: 10.1016/j.amepre.2013.02.014)
PHAI project releases White paper and policy brief addressing occupational injuries and illnesses among low-wage workers
Thursday, December 13th, 2012
A new white paper quantifies the numbers and costs of occupational injuries and illnesses to the U.S. low-wage workforce, and a companion policy brief explains the findings’ importance to policymakers.
White Paper: Numbers and Costs of Occupational Injury and Illness in Low-Wage Occupations
Policy Brief: Mom’s off Work ‘Cause She Got Hurt: The Economic Impact of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses in the U.S.’s Growing Low-Wage Workforce
NEW POLICY BRIEF EXAMINES IMPACT OF OCCUPATIONAL INJURIES AND ILLNESSES AMONG LOW-WAGE WORKERS, WHICH COST $39 BILLION IN 2010
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Low-wage workers, who make up a large and growing share of the U.S. workforce, are especially vulnerable to financial hits that can result from on-the-job injuries and illnesses, according to a policy brief released today by researchers at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services (SPHHS). The policy brief, “Mom’s off Work ’Cause She Got Hurt: The Economic Impact of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses in the U.S.’s Growing Low-Wage Workforce,” was released along with a white paper showing that such workplace injuries and illnesses cost the nation more than $39 billion in 2010.
“Workers earning the lowest wages are the least likely to have paid sick leave, so missing work to recuperate from a work-related injury or illness often means smaller paychecks,” says the lead policy brief author Celeste Monforton, a professorial lecturer in environmental and occupational health at SPHHS. “For the millions of Americans living paycheck to paycheck, a few missed shifts can leave families struggling to pay rent and buy groceries.”
The policy brief analyzes and contextualizes for policymakers research by health economist J. Paul Leigh of University of California, Davis. At the request of Monforton and her colleague Liz Borkowski, an SPHHS researcher, Leigh returned to data he analyzed for a 2011 study published in the Milbank Quarterly. (See a summary of that study at http://on.natgeo.com/XcfnBi.)
Leigh zeroed in on approximately 31 million people—22% of the U.S. workforce—in 65 occupations for which the median wage is below $11.19 per hour. Janitors, housecleaners, restaurant workers, and others earning that wage full-time will bring home just $22,350 per year—an amount that means a family of four must subsist at the poverty line.
Leigh calculated that in 2010, 596 low-wage workers suffered fatal on-the-job injuries and 12,415 died from occupational ailments such as black lung disease or certain kinds of cancer. Another 1.6 million suffered from non-fatal injuries, and 87,857 developed non-fatal occupational health problems such as asthma. The costs of the 1.73 million injuries and illness amounted to $15 billion for medical care and another $24 billion for lost productivity—the cost when injured or sick workers cannot perform their jobs or daily household duties.
The policy brief explains that workers’ compensation insurance either does not apply or fails to cover many of these costs, which can bankrupt families living on the margin. In some cases, employers do not have to offer this kind of insurance to employees. And even workers that do have the coverage often get an unexpected surprise after an on-the-job injury or illness: Insurers generally do not have to provide wage replacement until the worker has lost between three and seven consecutive shifts. And workers at the low end of the wage scale are often discouraged from reporting on-the-job injuries as work-related—which leaves them with no insurance benefits at all, the brief said.
Leigh calculates that insurers cover less than one-fourth of the costs of occupational injuries and illnesses. The rest falls on workers’ families, non-workers-compensation health insurers, and taxpayer-funded programs like Medicaid.
“When low-wage workers miss even a few days of pay while recovering from an occupational injury or illness, the effects spread quickly,” Borkowski says, noting that fewer than one in five low-wage workers has access to paid sick leave. “They will usually have to cut back on their spending right away, which affects the local economy.” And families with children might skip meals or cut back on the heat, money-saving tactics that can put vulnerable family members such as children at risk of developmental delays and poor performance in school.
The brief suggests that policymakers should address this public health problem more forcefully by improving workplace safety and strengthening the safety net to reduce the negative impacts caused by the injuries and illnesses that still occur. “On average, more than 4,000 workers are injured on the job each day,” Monforton notes. “If we make workplaces safer, we not only stop losing billions of dollars each year, but we also could reduce the pain and suffering and financial impact on thousands of low-wage, hard-working Americans and their families.”
Health Groups Ask Federal Trade Commission to Investigate Merck’s Use of “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” Characters to Market Children’s Claritin®
Wednesday, June 20th, 2012
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Cara Wilking, 617-373-5699
Today, the Public Health Advocacy Institute (PHAI) at Northeastern University School of Law in Boston, joined by 10 other organizations, sent a letter to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) asking that it investigate Merck & Co. Inc.’s Madagascar 3-themed marketing campaign for its flagship pediatric allergy medication, Grape-Flavored Chewable Children’s Claritin®.
“Marketing medicine directly to children at all, much less through entertainment tie-ins, is well beyond the pale and is not only inherently unfair, it is downright dangerous,” said Mark Gottlieb, executive director of PHAI.
To promote its June release of the Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted movie, Dreamworks licensed its Madagascar characters to Grape-Flavored Children’s Claritin®. It also licensed the characters to market other children’s foods including fruit-flavored Airheads candy, General Mills (Betty Crocker) Fruit Snacks, and McDonald’s Happy Meals. The use of the same characters on candy and gummy snacks and Children’s Claritin® creates the impression that the medicine is candy and could lead children to over consume the product at great risk to their health.
The FTC regulates over-the-counter (OTC) drug marketing and has protected children from marketing of vitamin supplements, and by extension OTC drugs, since 1977 when it found the use of Spider-Man to market vitamins to children to be unfair and deceptive (In re Hudson Pharmaceutical Corp., 89 F.T.C. 82 (1977)).
Merck’s campaign utilizes customized Madagascar 3 packaging including “5 Free Stickers.”with Madagascar 3 characters and containing “5 Free Stickers.” Mail-in movie ticket voucher promotions were prominently placed at retail outlets such as Walgreens and downloadable Children’s Claritin® Madagascar-themed activity games further targeted children. Merck also enlisted its “Children’s Claritin® Mom Crew” members to create social media buzz. Mom Crew members held Madagascar-themed viewing parties for children featuring product samples, coupons, DVD’s, popcorn containers and, Madagascar stickers and then featured the children’s parties on their blogs and websites.
Cara Wilking, a PHAI senior staff attorney who authored the letter, added, “the FTC stepped in and stopped this practice a generation ago. Apparently OTC drug-makers like Merck need to be reminded that targeting kids is unfair, deceptive, and unacceptable.”
PHAI, Berkeley Media Studies Group, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, Center for Digital Democracy, ChangeLab Solutions (formerly Public Health Law & Policy), Corporate Accountability International, Eat Drink Politics, Public Citizen, The Public Good Law Center, Public Health Institute and Prevention Institute request immediate action by the FTC to stop this practice before it becomes widespread.
Thursday, December 2nd, 2010
As of November 1, 2010, the Public Health Advocacy Institute is coordinating the Beyond OSHA project in conjuntion with Board member and project Principal Investigator Anthony Robbins, MD, and Celeste Monforton, DrPH, who is the project’s director.
The work focuses on enlisting experts and advocates to help workers make better use of their legal rights in the workplace.
The Pump Handle, a public health blog moderated by Liz Borkowski, a graduate student at George Washington University’s School of Public Health and Health Service, is a key compenent of this project, which is funded by the Public Welfare Foundation.
Beyond OSHA is PHAI’s second injury reduction project, the first one being the Motor Vehicle Hazard Archive Project. Like using law and policy approaches to reduce chronic disease caused by tobacco products or sales and marketing of obesogenic foods and beverages, injury reduction is a cornerstone of public health policy that seeks to reduce preventable morbidity and mortality.