Goodbye, Food Pyramid. Hello, Food Plate. (Morning Read)

Current medical news from today, including: The “Food Pyramid” gets replaced by the “Food Plate,” a shortage of certain drugs is making some hospitals nervous, and doctors reconsider Niaspan.

Current medical news and unique business news for anyone who cares about the healthcare industry.

The new Food Plate: The Obama administration is set to send into retirement the Food Pyramid — a symbol that was supposed to serve as a guide for healthy eating. In its place officials are dishing up a simple, plate-shaped symbol, sliced into wedges for the basic food groups and half-filled with fruits and vegetables. The new design is expected to be unveiled Thursday.

The plate could be a welcome change from 2005’s MyPyramid, which required going online and playing with a website, and was unteachable in clinic settings.

Drug shortages: A growing shortage of medications for a host of illnesses — from cancer to cystic fibrosis to cardiac arrest — has hospitals scrambling for substitutes to avoid patient harm, and sometimes even delaying treatment.

Second thoughts: Doctors are thinking twice about prescribing Niaspan, an Abbott Labs drug used to raise levels of good cholesterol. A recent study showed the drug failed to prevent heart attacks and slightly raised the risk of a stroke when combined with a popular generic cholesterol pill.

Don’t smoke ’em if you got ’em: Tobacco will kill nearly six million people this year, including 600,000 non-smokers, because governments are not doing enough to persuade people to quit or protect others from second-hand smoke, according to the World Health Organization.

Trouble for T-Paw? Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty says he’d back a controversial House GOP plan that would replace Medicare with a private voucher system. That might help in Republican primaries, but could cost Pawlenty later on, as voters haven’t seemed too keen on the plan.

Photo from flickr user daveynin