Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi on Managing Food Allergies Safely

For some, being diagnosed with food allergies can be a limiting experience, but with the right management techniques, there is no reason why they should stop you from living your life freely and happily. Some of the most common allergies include peanuts and other nuts, shellfish, and wheat.

While many people associate food allergies with children, around 35 percent of adults are diagnosed after age 18. No matter what the age, those with food allergies need to stay vigilant and take appropriate steps to manage their allergy. Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi ( recently shared some of their most important tips and precautions when it comes to managing food allergies.

Allergy Management and Safety Tips
While shopping at the grocery store for weekly meals, you will want to make sure that you read all the labels on your food before you buy it. Many of the most common allergens will be listed right on the packaging. By reading ahead, you can avoid unwanted surprises. The same goes for eating with friends or family. If you know you may have a hard time finding something safe to eat, go ahead and volunteer to bring something along to share, and that way you will know you can eat safely when you arrive.

As you cook, you need to keep your space allergen free. At home, keep the foods separated so there is no cross-contamination, and make sure that the same rule extends to plates, utensils, and cookware.

Dining Out with Care
When dining out, make sure you call ahead to see which dishes are going to be allergen free and talk to your waiter before ordering so the chain of communication is clear. The same rules about cross-contamination apply to restaurants, so expressing your needs is essential in order to avoid being sick.

What to do When a Reaction Occurs
If all else fails and you feel an allergic reaction going on, the first line of defense is to use an approved prescription medication, like epinephrine, to reduce and control the symptoms. Many allergies can trigger anaphylaxis shock, and the medication can make a crucial difference. If you know you are at risk, always carry your prescription medication with you. See more tips at

Having a special allergen ID can also be a simple yet lifesaving measure if you are at risk for severe food allergies. Put them on your person or if your child has the allergies, keep it with them while at school or play so people will know immediately what to do and how to help. Your doctor can advise you with what to say on the ID.

Making sense of drug shortages

More than 7 billion people call the planet Earth home. Each of these humans have, or can benefit from amazing advancements in medical science. One of the most beneficial types of advancements is the ever-evolving diversity of prescription medications. These medications treat everything from the flu, to a host of horrible diseases.

At times, there are notable shortages in the availability of certain drugs. This affects the ability of pharmacies, doctor’s offices, and community health organizations to distribute certain drugs consistently. Whenever a shortage occurs, there is an immediate response to place blame on a particular organization. The first type of organization to incur undue blame is the GPO.

A significant percentage of modern drugs are produced in laboratory facilities. These facilities must adhere to strict governmental and trade standards that do not always match the pace of human need. When a drug shortage happens, it can be caused by any number of triggers.

First on the list is batching. This is especially pertinent when it comes to drugs that are meant to combat viruses. Many times, there are only a few designated producers of patent-compliant drugs available that have the job of distribution. Though these producers work at maximum efficiency, their output does not match need. This is a natural and practical reason for some drug shortages.

Another reason for drug shortages resides in the legal arena. Court orders issued by judges with a penchant for interference in the world of medical manufacturing can create a blockade for drugs that are ready to go to market. These are not necessarily orders that are outcomes of lawsuits, but rest solely on the whim of activist judges who interfere with common market behaviors.

The most misguided believe in the cause of drug shortages is the work of GPOs. Many people believe that group purchasing organizations create scarcity in the prescription drug market. This is statistically untrue, and groups like Physicians Against Drug Shortages led by Phillip Zweig have falsely accused GPOs of such. The vast majority of GPOs purchase supplies of drugs that are already marked for distribution. This means the drugs are immediately distributed where they are needed most. GPOs also regularly recycle huge orders for patented drugs if their buyers do not come through. This means the supply of certain drugs remain fluid on the market, and can be distributed without any form of perceived monopolization.

GPO inclusion in the prescription drug industry is extremely important because it guarantees that drugs will be available in the most highly populated networks. No statistical evidence has proved that GPO involvement in the drug industry has ever created a shortage in a popular and effective medication type.

Scholar, Scientist, Physician, Public Servant

Margaret A. Hamburg is a graduate of Radcliff College and received a medical degree from Harvard Medical School. Her research was in neuroscience at Rockefeller University in New York, and she studied neuropharmacology at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

Dr. Hamburg was raised by prominent physicians. Her friends were related to the medical profession. Her expertise is in community health. She is also an expert in a field not usually associated with the medical profession in the areas of biodefense, and preparedness for nuclear, biological, and chemical threats.

Because of Dr. Hamburg’s expertise in appreciating the danger of these threats, she supported a foundation devoted to public safety, the Nuclear Threat Initiative, which appointed her as the vice president for biological programs.

Dr. Hamburg has focused on AIDS research, serving as the assistant director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases), from 1989 to 1990. Further, she has been associated with the U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

From 1991 to 1997, Dr. Hamburg served as health commissioner for New York City. She developed cutting-edge programs for containing the proliferation of tuberculosis and AIDS. The TB rate fell by 86 percent for the most resistant strains.

In 1997, she was appointed by President Clinton to be assistant secretary for policy and evaluation at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In 2009, President Obama appointed Dr. Hamburg as the commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Dr. Hamburg is a member of the board of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy. She has been heralded to have a wealth of experience in science, health care, and regulatory affairs.

The Parker Institute has forged a collaborative relationship with outstanding scientists, clinicians, and industry. The Parker Institute coordinates the cancer immunotherapy research effort. Its primary goal is the advancement of the understanding of immune therapies capable of curing cancer.

As a board member of the Parker Institute, Dr. Hamburg, in 2015, was appointed the foreign secretary of the National Academy of Medicine (NAM). Dr. Margaret Hamburg has now been named as the president-elect for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Her term will begin in February 2017.

On top of all this dedication to public service, Margaret Hamburg’s most precious accomplishment is a mother of two children, while she gave birth while employed as New York City Health Commissioner.


Annual 10k Supports National Kidney Foundation

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Healthy Kidney 10K is a race that happens annually. It is organized by the New York Roadrunners with support from the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC. The proceeds will go to the National Kidney Foundation. Last year, which was the 12th year, the event honored the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan who is the founder and the first president of the UAE. He was one of the beneficiaries of the professionalism, knowledge, and expertise of the United States institutions and doctors.

How many people participate in the race?
More than 10,000 people participate in the popular race that attracts even some of the world’s best athletes, top-ranked professional runners and a delegation of athletes from the UAE. There is a cultural festival during the race, which gives the participants an opportunity to learn about the UAE.

Last year winners
Last year, the Kenyan delegation took five out of the six podium spots with Lucas Rotich winning the men’s top spot in 28:29 while Cynthia Limo won the women’s top spot in 31:39. Both of them received a $25,000 check – tied for the largest first-place prize of any 10K race in the world. NYRR Young Runners presented the check to them.

UAE Healthy Kidney 10K 2017
It will be the 13th annual event that will offer something for everyone. This includes performances by world’s top athletes, finisher medals, a great event to inspire people, great giveaways such as t-shirts to participants, and awesome raffle prizes.

Social media
The event hashtag will be #UAEHK10K. You can use it on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts. There will also be live unofficial results on Its features are map tracking, leaderboards and individual runner search that you can share on social media. The system works well on mobile devices so your friends and family can follow your progress. They will also be able to get unofficial results!

Fee and registration
You should put in mind that your price for the Healthy Kidney 10K takes care of the race and the administrative expenses. To ensure you are supporting the mission fully, you can add an extra donation while registering for the contest.

New Gene Therapy for Cancer Offers Hope

Dimas Padilla thought he was dying for sure.

He’d been through the wringer with a type of blood cancer called non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. First, he tried chemotherapy, and then, when the cancer came back a year and a half later, he underwent a bone marrow transplant.

But last year, when it came back again, he believed he was out of options.

“I was losing my battle against cancer,” Padilla, a 43-year-old sales representative, told NBC News.

Then he found out about an experimental therapy that’s a step beyond bone marrow transplants.

Called chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy — CAR-T for short — it involves taking a samples of T-immune cells called T-cells from a patient, genetically engineering them, and putting them back in to fight the cancer.

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Former FDA Commissioners Oppose Importation Of Prescription Drugs

An article in The Washington Post, dated March 17, 2017, describes the effort to legalize the importation of drugs from other countries into the United States. Its headline points out that the four recent commissioners of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have come out in opposition to this effort. The thrust of their objections center around the safety of prescription drugs that are not produced within the rules and regulations of the FDA.

The former commissioners are Robert Califf and Margaret Hamburg, both of whom hold this position while Barack Obama was President. They are supported by Andrew von Eschenbach and Andrew McClellan, whose time was during the administration of President George W. Bush. Their opposition to importation of drugs from outside the United States came to light in a letter to members of Congress. The letter was sent in response to legislation introduced to allow importation from licensed agencies in Canada, and perhaps later, from Europe.

The purpose of the letter was twofold. One was to inform members of Congress of the opinions of the former commissioners, and to encourage them to not support the legislation. The other purpose was to inform the public, and hopefully encourage the American people to contact their members of Congress, and urge them to not support this bill. The commissioners made clear their opposition to importation. The FDA regulates drugs in the United States, but has no way to regulate or guarantee the safety of drugs imported from other countries. The former commissioners consider this to be a public safety issue.

The impetus behind the legislation is the cost of prescription medicines. In other countries like Canada, the same drug is much less expensive than in the United States. Of course, that is the heart of the former commissioner’s objections. They say that there is no guarantee than the drug that purports to be the same is really the same. It is really a question of quality control, or lack thereof.

Backers of the legislation say that the safety concerns can be met with appropriate regulations, and that the drugs would only come from reputable sources. The former commissioners counter that such regulations would drive up the price of imported drugs, and thus cancel out any savings.

This argument which pits safety against lower prices is not likely to be settled by this letter, and will be one that will be continued to be debated in the future.

The UAE Makes Polio Eradication a Top Priority

Poliomyelitis, or infantile paralysis, is an infectious disease most often referred to as Polio. Polio mostly affects the leg muscles but can also occur in the muscles of the head, neck, and diaphragm. The disease was widely spread in Nigeria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan but it was estimated in August 2015 that polio cases are down 75% YTD in Pakistan. In Nigeria and Afghanistan however, the disease remains endemic.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has made the complete eradication of polio its mission. Since 2011, there has been a partnership between UAE and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Together they have been working on spreading awareness of the crippling disease internationally, fundraising resources to producing and distributing vaccines against polio.

In 2013, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Bill Gates hosted the very first Global Vaccine Summit in Abu Dhabi. During the event, Bill Gates announced that polio eradication was close and very much an achievable goal. The event was attended by a representative from each of the polio-affected countries and a number of organizations such as the World Health Organization, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF and Rotary International – all part of the GPEI.

Over $100 million have been geared towards supporting the immunization process. In order to spread awareness of the undertaken action, a documentary was filmed that showcases the vaccination efforts of healthcare workers in Pakistan. The documentary is called Every Last Child and is produced by Image Nation Abu Dhabi.

The UAE/Pakistani assistance in the eradication of polio has produced amazing results. In May 2015, estimates show that over 86.6 million vaccination doses have been administered and more than 20.6 million children under the age of five have received vaccination and have been protected from the polio virus. In 2013, The United Arab Emirates have also contained the polio outbreak in Syria. In Nigeria there has not been a single case of polio since 2014, proving that a polio-free world can be achieved.

With only Pakistan and Afghanistan left the effort continues. In addition to working with the Gates Foundation, the UAE has also partnered with USAID and a number of nongovernmental organizations. These partnerships will continue the fight to eradicate the polio virus from Pakistan and Afghanistan by continuing to spread awareness worldwide and raise resources for vaccines.

The real cause behind drug shortages

Group Purchasing Organization’s (GPO’s) have been under attack from some in the medical device community that stand to benefit financially by hindering them. For more than ten years, through misinformation about GPO’s, this small group of medical professionals have behaved very unprofessionally by trying to blame every health care crisis, including medicine shortages, on GPO’s.

According to research by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other government agencies, GPO’s are not responsible for drug shortages. Documented facts show that problems with production, quality control and difficulties with bringing new suppliers online is the reason for shortages. GPO’s work towards healthy competition in the market to relieve this situation, not make it worse as some would claim.

Contracts with GPO’s are voluntary, not forced, and hospitals are still entitled to purchase off contract if they choose. The savings, administration and business policies of GPO’s have been completely reviewed by the U.S. Government Accountability Office as well as nearly every hospital in the U.S. Apparently, Physicians Against Drug Shortages don’t have the experience needed to successfully manage a supply chain.

Phil Zwieg, the Director of Physicians Against Drug Shortages, has even tried to bully academics whose research puts GPO’s in a more positive light and force them to change their opinions. Zwieg has even gone so far as to try to have them punished by their universities if they don’t cooperate and recant. No, it isn’t any GPO responsible for drug shortages. The answer to that question can be found in those working against them.

Perhaps if Phil Zwieg and his supporters shifted their focus from trying to destroy GPO’s to one of cooperation instead, this problem of drug shortages would fade away. Or maybe not, but one thing is certain. For as long as politics and medicine are mixed, it’s the patient who is going to suffer the most.

Nail Polish: The New Date Rape Detector?

Nail polish is something that a lot of women enjoy wearing, especially when they can experiment with different colors, styles and designs. It makes us feel pretty, unique and most of all, shows off how awesome our nails look. But how much more would we love nail polish if it could save our lives? That’s what four students from North Carolina State University are hoping to do with Undercover Colors (, a company they created while in school, to help women determine if their drink contains a date rape drug (

The idea came out of a senior design project in their department at NC State. The four students, Tyler Confrey-Maloney, Stephen Gray, Ankesh Madan and Tasso Von Windheim, wanted something that could alert women that they were in danger without bringing attention to them if they were in a sensitive situation, such as with a guy at a bar or at a party. And they thought, instead of trying to create something new, how about using a product that women are already familiar with and transferring it into something that could potentially save their lives.

Undercover Colors nail polish stickers will serve as an early warning system to women to protect themselves and to be aware of their surroundings as all these young men know someone who has been sexually assaulted and wanted something that would prevent sexual assault from happening to anyone else. The nail polish itself will be clear and when dipped into a drink, will change color if the drink contains a drug such as Rohypnol. The hope is that this company will not only bring awareness to sexual assault, but also serve as a deterrent for predators who want to take advantage of women and see alcohol as a perfect vehicle to do just that. This nail polish will serve as a preventive measure and will turn women into survivors, not victims.

With the funding and worldwide recognition Undercover Colors has received, it is now a fully-formed company with seven employees. And it won’t be long until we’re seeing their polish on store shelves across the country—look for Undercover Colors nail polish stickers next year.

Trans-fat end in sight, thanks to FDA

The Food and Drug Administration has announced a new plan to require food manufacturers to phase out the use of artificial trans-fats. Trans-fats, or partially hydrogenated oils, are the result of an industrial process that adds hydrogen to vegetable oils to make them more stable. Foods cooked with trans-fats tend to have a longer shelf-life, which makes the process very attractive for food manufacturers. Unfortunately, trans-fats have a long standing association with an increased risk of heart disease. The ban has been long fought for and follows on the success of individual states enacting similar bans. New York passed a ban on trans-fats in 2007 and California passed a ban in 2011.

Before the ban, which former Commissioner Margaret Hamburg helped to put in place, the FDA allowed companies to report trace amounts of trans-fats (less than 0.5 of a gram) as having no trans-fats at all. The ban now requires foods to be completely trans-fat free after 2018. The ban only applies to artificial trans-fats; that is, oils that have undergone the industrial treatment process to stabilize them. Some foods, such as beef and dairy, contain small amounts of naturally occurring trans-fats and are not impacted by the ban.

While the FDA has already issued warnings for consumers to limit intake of trans-fatty foods, the new ban provides motivation for food manufacturers to find alternative cooking methods. Some manufacturers have already taken measures to remove trans-fats from their products; Crisco reformulated their products in 2007 to eliminate trans-fats entirely. The FDA estimates that nearly 80 percent of U.S. foods have already made the move to eliminate trans-fats.

In the end, consumers come out ahead in the battle against trans-fats. The dangers of trans-fats were not well known until achieving widespread popularity. Misinformation about the dangers of trans-fats has made it difficult for consumers to make healthy eating choices. The FDA ban helps spread correct information about the health risks of trans-fats as well as eliminating it from widespread use in consumer food production.