Toyota recalls 1.43 mn vehicles due to airbag defects
Japanese automaker Toyota Motor Corporation on Wednesday issued a global recall on 1.43 million of its top-selling hybrid Prius models and high-end Lexus CT200h hybrid sports hatchbacks due to a possible defect in the models' airbag inflator.
The Aichi-based automaker said the recall will span 743,000 vehicles in Japan, 495,000 in its North American and Mexican markets and cover 141,000 models in Europe, Xinhua news agency reported.
"The recall also includes the Prius plug-in models," Toyota said.
"In the vehicles being recalled, specifically those produced between October 2008 and April 2012, it is possible that there is a crack in a weld in the airbag inflator that could lead to the inflator chambers separating and the bags partially inflating, with the inflator itself being discharged into the vehicles' interior," Toyota added. 
Toyota said no deaths or injuries have been reported as a result of the latest airbag-related saga, and noted that the airbag inflators involved in the latest recall were not produced by embattled Takata Corporation.
Toyota has been mired in recall issues in recent times, including the recall of 6.5 million vehicles worldwide in October 2015 owing to a power window glitch that could potential trigger fires.
Toyota also doubled a recall order over faulty airbags to nearly 34 million vehicles in 2015, in a record-breaking recall move prior to the window glitch.
In 2014, the world's largest automaker also issued a recall on 1.9 million of its ubiquitous Prius hybrids, due to a computer problem that could cause the vehicle to suddenly stop without warning.
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Consumers Are Feeling Unfulfilled
Puffed up packaging is prompting a spate of class-action lawsuits from consumers questioning why there is empty space where their food or beverages should be. Here are seven products that have faced challenges from consumers who allege that there should not be less to eat or drink than meets the eye.
What does this all boil down too? Size matters.


As Opioid Epidemic Continues, Steps to Curb It Multiply

The overdose death toll from opioids, both prescription drugs and heroin, has almost quadrupled since 1999. In 2014 alone, 28,000 people died of opioid overdoses, more than half from prescription drugs.

Just last month, public awareness of the opioid epidemic reached a new level when Prince was found dead with prescription narcotics on him and authorities began to investigate their role in his demise. In recent weeks, lawmakers and regulators have moved to augment treatment options for addiction and to require more education for doctors who prescribe opioids. The U.S. House of Representatives is voting on a package of bills this week; the Senate passed its own bill in March.

Also in that span, the Los Angeles Times has published an investigation of Purdue Pharma, the maker of the blockbuster pain pill OxyContin, and CNN held a town hall meeting on the consequences of addiction to narcotics. Dr. David A. Kessler, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, wrote an op-ed in the New York Times, calling the embrace of opioids "one of the biggest mistakes in modern medicine."

Today, ProPublica added warnings labels to the pages of narcotic drugs in our Prescriber Checkup news app, prompted by indications that some readers are using the tool to find doctors who will prescribe these drugs with few or no questions asked (See our editor's note).

The effectiveness of any of these steps remains to be seen. There is broad consensus on the need for more treatment options, more education, more careful prescribing by doctors. But there's still much debate about the details2014and funding2013for each of those steps.

What's clear is that in recent months there has been an increasing emphasis on the role of health providers and the agencies that oversee them to stem access to widely abused prescription drugs:

  • In March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released guidelines on prescribing of opioids for chronic pain, defined as pain that lasts for more than three months (excluding pain related to cancer, end-of-life and palliative care.) The guidelines call on doctors to choose therapies other than opioids as their preferred option; to use the lowest possible doses; and to monitor all patients closely.

  • That same month, the FDA announced tougher warning labels on immediate-release opioids, such as fentanyl, hydrocodone, and oxycodone, to note the "serious risks of misuse, abuse, addiction, overdose and death."

  • Nonprofit groups and medical experts in April asked the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to remove questions about pain control from a survey of hospital patients' satisfaction to remove any incentive to overtreat pain. And they asked The Joint Commission, which accredits health facilities, to revise its standards to deemphasize "unnecessary, unhelpful and unsafe pain treatments." The commission pushed back, saying its standards do no such thing.

Just yesterday, Dr. Steven J. Stack, president of the American Medical Association, called on doctors to do more. He encouraged doctors to use their state's Prescription Drug Monitoring Program to ensure their patients aren't shopping for multiple doctors to prescribe them drugs. He called on them to co-prescribe a rescue drug, naloxone, to patients at risk of overdose. And he told them to generally avoid starting opioids for new patients with chronic, non-cancer pain.

"As physicians, we are on the front lines of an opioid epidemic that is crippling communities across the country," Stack wrote in a statement, published on the Huffington Post. "We must accept and embrace our professional responsibility to treat our patients' pain without worsening the current crisis. These are actions we must take as physicians individually and collectively to do our part to end this epidemic."

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