Health Highlights: July 11, 2017
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Snortable Chocolate Product Should be Investigated by FDA: U.S. Senator
A new snortable chocolate product called Coco Loko should be investigated by the Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer says.
The New York Democrat and Senate minority leader is concerned that the product could be harmful and is being marketed like a drug, CBS News/Associated Press reported.
"This suspect product has no clear health value," he said in a statement, "I can't think of a single parent who thinks it is a good idea for their children to be snorting over-the-counter stimulants up their noses."
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has said it has yet to determine whether it has authority to regulate snortable chocolate, CBS/AP reported.
The effects of inhaling chocolate are unclear, but a number of doctors have expressed concerns.
"The question is, what are the risks of doing it?" said Dr. Andrew Lane, director of the Johns Hopkins Sinus Center, told the Washington Post. "There's no data, and as far as I can tell, no one's studied what happens if you inhale chocolate into your nose. When I mention it to people, nobody's ever heard of it."
In a health blog he writes for Forbes, Dr. Bruce Y. Lee, an associate professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, wrote: "Why in the world would you snort chocolate (along with energy drink ingredients) when you can just eat it? What's next? Sticking Hershey's kisses in your ear?" CBS/AP reported.
Drug Makers Must Provide More Training for Opioid Prescribers: FDA
Makers of immediate-release opioid pain medications will have to provide more extensive training for doctors and other healthcare providers who prescribe the drugs, the head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Monday.
Immediate-release versions account for 90 percent of opioids prescribed in the United States, while extended-release products account for only 10 percent of prescriptions. Currently, only makers of extended-release products are required to provide prescriber training, the Washington Post reported.
The new policy, announced by Commissioner Scott Gottlieb at the start of a two-day FDA meeting on painkiller abuse, is part of the agency's efforts to tackle the opioid abuse epidemic in the U.S.
"America is simply awash in immediate-release opioid products," Gottlieb said. The new prescriber education requirements "will be aimed at making sure providers who write prescriptions for the opioids are doing so for properly indicated patients and under appropriate clinical circumstances."
Currently, the FDA does not require doctors to undergo the training, but Gottlieb said that could change, the Post reported.
"Based on the feedback we've received from two public meetings over the past year, we're actively exploring the question of whether, in the future, there should be mandatory provider education, and how we'd operationalize such a condition," he said.
Gottlieb also said the FDA will require information provided by drugmakers to prescribers to include more about pain management and to outline non-drug therapies as well as drug treatments, the Post reported.
Communion Breads Cannot be Gluten-Free: Vatican
Unleavened bread used in the celebration of Mass cannot be completely gluten-free, the Vatican says.
The policy outlined in a directive dated June 15 states that truly gluten-free altar breads made with rice, potato, tapioca or other flours in place of wheat are not allowed. There must be at least a trace amount of gluten, a protein that occurs naturally in wheat, The New York Times reported.
A similar position was adopted by the Church of England, while some other Christian denominations consider gluten-free breads acceptable.
People with celiac disease are vulnerable to even small amounts of gluten.
American Adults Without Health Insurance Rises by 2 Million
The number of American adults without health insurance has increased by about 2 million so far this year, according to a new survey.
It found that the uninsured rate was 11.7 percent in the second three months of this year, compared with a record low of 10.9 percent at the end of last year. The change is small but statistically significant, according to survey analysts, the Associated Press reported.
The Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index, published Monday, said losses in coverage were concentrated among younger adults and people buying their own health insurance policies.
The uninsured rate rose 1.9 percent among adults aged 18-25 since the end of last year, and 1.5 percent among those aged 26-34.
Even with the decline in coverage, the uninsured rate among adults is 6.3 percent lower than it's peak of 18 percent in the third quarter of 2013. Under the Obama administration's Affordable Care Act, about 20 million people gained coverage, the AP reported.
Proposed Republican healthcare legislation to replace the Affordable Care Act would lead to at least 22 million more people becoming uninsured, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Posted: July 2017