Wednesday, December 21, 2011

2011 Amherst Bowl

Years ago I put together a father son Thanksgiving football game hoping to fill those empty morning hours and hang out with my son.

I succeeded beyond my wildest dreams.

Celebrating its 8th year, the tournament, christened "The Amherst Bowl", has swollen to 127 players spanning 6 football fields and 12 teams playing 5 continuous football games in authentic AFC or NFC team jerseys.

The trash talk begins on Labor Day and echoes through our Township’s lunchrooms and playing fields with kids wearing prior years’ jerseys like badges of glory.

During Thanksgiving’s wet early morning hours, we map out and line the fields and set up tables overflowing cakes, hot chocolate and coffee.

The horde shows up at around 8:00 a.m. eager to learn the team to which to they’ve been assigned, whom their teammates will be, and how gloriously muddy the fields are.

Shirts are distributed, rules are explained, and at 9:00 a.m. the carnage begins.

During the ensuing rigidly timed five games, fathers put their middle-aged bodies at risk, re-live their youth and play football with their sons.

Throughout the morning used soccer gear is collected by "Heads Up Soccer" which transports and distributes it to impoverished third world youth.

Additionally, monies raised are donated to "Katie at the Bat" (improving inner-city youths’ lives through athletics, literacy, nutrition and health, and the arts), "Adam Spandorfer Memorial Fund" (raising monies for Variety Club Camp at which children with disabilities can play baseball), and Hope with Heart (providing a summer camp and building a community for children with moderate to severe heart problems).

Although, at the Tournament’s end, some need help getting off of the field, that evening’s Thanksgiving tables are abuzz with boasts of heroic plays, grudges revisited, and glorious victories.

Until next year, when we do it bigger and better.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Unsafe Drug Alert: TOPAMAX

On March 4, 2011, the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) issued a warning that Topiramate, a seizure, epilepsy and migraine medication marketed as Topamax, increases the risk of oral birth defects including cleft lip and/or cleft palate.

The FDA approved Topiramate to prevent migraine headaches (but not to relieve migraine headache pain) and it has been used “off-label” to treat other conditions.

Topamax has been on the market since 1996 and was the 13th best selling prescription drug in 2008 with $2.4 billion pm annual U.S. sales.

Although previously classified as a “Pregnancy Category C” drug (meaning that animal studies data suggested potential fetal risks) because new human data shows an increased oral cleft risk, Topiramate was placed in “Pregnancy Category D” signifying human fetal risk.

Specifically, data indicates that if Topiramate is taken during pregnancy there is a higher risk that the baby will develop a cleft lip and/or cleft palate.

Cleft lip and cleft palate range from a small notch in the lip to a groove running into the roof of the mouth and nose, possibly leading to eating, talking and ear infection problems.

Oral clefts happen early in pregnancy, before many women even know they are pregnant, and surgery is used to close the lip and palate.

Topiramate’s benefits and risks should be carefully weighed when prescribing to women of childbearing age, particularly for conditions not usually associated with permanent injury or death.

Further, because suddenly stopping Topiramate can cause serious problems, Topiramate should not be stopped before talking to a healthcare professional, even in pregnant women.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Consumer Product Safety Database

Starting in March 2011, consumers will be able to submit reports of harm caused by consumer products to a public database created by the Consumer Product Safety Commission ("CPSC").

The CPSC regulates consumer products sold in the United States including toys, furniture, clothing and accessories, electronics, sports and recreation items, containers, kitchen items, household chemicals and fuel.

The database,, will allow the public to post, search for, and review consumer product reports (previously available only through a Freedom of Information Act request) and manufacturers’ response to those reports.

The database was created to provide timely injury-causing-dangers information without waiting for a product recall by allowing consumers and others to submit consumer product safety reports directly to the CPSC.

Here is how it works.

Consumers log onto and submit a description of the product, the manufacturer’s identity, and a description of the harm caused by the product’s use.

If it meets the minimum criteria for publication, the CPSC will post the report on the database 15 business days after submission and forward a copy to the manufacturer for comment.

The manufacturer then has 10 business days to comment if it wishes to have its comments published simultaneously with the report’s posting.

Although the new CPSC database will both promote transparency and provide consumers with necessary product safety information, because anyone may submit a report, including competitors and lawyers representing claimants against the manufacturer, concerns exist that the database might unfairly damage reputations or lead to baseless litigation.