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American Scene

- - Sunday, February 13, 2011


Plan B maker seeks full OTC status

Teva Pharmaceuticals, which makes Plan B One-Step, has filed an application with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to make its "emergency contraception" product available over the counter (OTC).

Currently, Plan B, which is intended to prevent a pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of sexual intercourse, is available without a prescription to anyone 17 and older, but requires a prescription for anyone younger.

A March 2009 federal court ruling said the FDA denied unlimited OTC status to Plan B because of "politics" rather than science. The ruling asked the FDA to reconsider its decision. Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a motion for contempt against the FDA to force it to comply with the ruling.

Conservative groups have urged the FDA not to grant unlimited OTC status to Plan B. They say that Plan B, like other birth-control products, could cause serious health complications and should require a prescription to ensure proper medical oversight of users, especially minors.


Pediatricians warn against energy drinks

CHICAGO — Energy drinks are under-studied, overused and can be dangerous for children and teens, warns a report by doctors who say kids shouldn't use the popular products.

The potential harms, caused mostly by too much caffeine or similar ingredients, include heart palpitations, seizures, strokes and even sudden death, the authors write in the medical journal Pediatrics. They reviewed data from the government and interest groups, scientific literature, case reports and articles in popular and trade media.

The report's authors want pediatricians to routinely ask patients and their parents about energy-drink consumption and to advise against drinking them.

"We would discourage the routine use" by children and teens, said Dr. Steven Lipshultz, pediatrics chairman at the University of Miami's medical school. He wrote the report with colleagues from that center.


Police: Slain 'gunman' was not armed

CARY — A man who told hostages and police he had a gun was actually unarmed during a three-hour standoff that ended with officers shooting and killing him outside a North Carolina bank, police said Sunday.

Cary Police Chief Pat Bazemore said 19-year-old Devon Mitchell concealed an object inside a red toboggan hat and presented it as a gun, but that he didn't have a firearm. Mitchell had as many as seven hostages, though most were released during the course of the standoff Thursday.

"Why Devon set all of this in motion, why he wanted all of us to believe that he had a weapon and was prepared to kill with it are questions that we will never have the answers to," Chief Bazemore said. "But it is clear that that's what Devon wanted us to believe."

A bank employee called police at the beginning of the ordeal and told dispatchers that she was ordered to call by an armed man who was holding another worker at gunpoint, according to an audiotape of the 911 call. Police have said he didn't demand money.

At the end, Mitchell walked out holding what appeared to be a gun to the head of a hostage and police fired, killing the suspect. No one else was harmed.


Borders expected to file for bankruptcy

NEW YORK — Borders Group Inc. may file for bankruptcy reorganization as early as Monday or Tuesday, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

The No. 2 traditional bookstore in the U.S. also plans to close about 200 of its 674 stores and cut thousands of jobs, the newspaper reported on Friday, citing sources it did not name.

The story also says Borders is hearing pitches from Bank of America Corp. and General Electric Co.'s finance arm for $450 million in financing to keep operating under bankruptcy protection.

Borders has struggled with losses for years as it tries to adapt to a changing book industry. More people are buying books online, at discounters and other stores. The company reported sales at its namesake superstores open at least a year were down 14.6 percent for the crucial holiday period this year.


Stolen truck sought in triple slaying

MADISON — Three people were killed at a central Virginia home, and investigators are looking for a pickup truck that belonged to one of the victims and was taken from the scene, authorities said Sunday.

The Madison County Sheriff's Office said Sunday that the dead were James Clark Jackson, 55; Karen Lee Jackson, 53; and Chante Latrice Davis, 26. Their deaths are being investigated as homicides, and all three had trauma to their upper bodies.

A pickup truck had been taken from the home, which officials said was a copper-colored 2005 Chevrolet Colorado extended cab.

"This is a terrible tragedy," Robert Anthony, who said he was a relative of those killed, told WVIR-TV. "A husband and wife and one of the children have left us, and we don't have all of the pieces to the puzzle."

From wire dispatches and staff reports