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Health Highlights: Oct. 31, 2011

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Obama to Tell FDA to Tackle Drug Shortages

President Barack Obama will sign an executive order Monday directing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to take action to reduce drug shortages, according to a White House official.

The FDA says there were 178 drug shortages in 2010 and the problem has become worse this year, putting patients at risk and potentially leading to price gouging, the Associated Press reported.

Anesthetics, cancer drugs, emergency medicine drugs and electrolytes required for intravenous feeding are among the drugs that tend to be affected by shortages.

Quality or manufacturing problems, or drug makers experiencing delays in receiving components from suppliers, are major reasons for the drug shortages, according to the FDA. In some cases, drug companies discontinue older drugs in favor of newer ones that make more profit, the AP reported.

Also on Monday, Obama is scheduled to announce his support for Senate and House legislation that would compel drug companies to notify the FDA six months in advance of a potential drug shortage. Currently, notification of shortages is voluntary.


Teens 16-18 Should Have HIV Tests: AAP

All teens ages 16 to 18 should receive regular, routine HIV tests if they live in an area of the United States where the HIV rate is higher than 0.1 percent of the population, according to new American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines released Monday.

The AAP also said HIV tests should be given to adolescents of any age who are tested for other sexually transmitted diseases, CNN reported.

The routine HIV testing should be conducted using a rapid response test that provides a diagnosis within about 20 minutes, the AAP said.

Previously, the academy recommended HIV testing only for teens who said they were sexually active, CNN reported.

Of the more than 1.1 million HIV-positive people in the United States in 2006, about 5 percent were teens and young adults ages 13 to 24, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About one of every two HIV-infected teens don't know they have the virus that causes AIDS.


World Population Reaches 7 Billion

A baby girl born in the Philippines was the first of a number of babies chosen by the United Nations as symbols of the world's population reaching 7 billion people.

Danica May Camacho weighed 5.5 pounds when she was born at two minutes before midnight Sunday at Manila's Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital. Her birth was celebrated with a chocolate cake marked "7B Philippines," a gift certificate for free shoes, and speeches by local officials, the Associated Press reported.

Danica, born about a month premature, is the second child for mother Camille Galura and partner Florante Camacho, a driver who supports the family on a small salary.

Because it is impossible to pinpoint the actual arrival of the world's 7 billionth person, the U.N. chose Monday to hold celebrations worldwide and a series of symbolic 7-billionth babies being born in different countries.

But the occasion raises serious questions, according to Dr. Eric Tayag of the Philippines' Department of Health.

"Seven billion is a number we should think about deeply," he told the AP. "We should really focus on the question of whether there will be food, clean water, shelter, education and a decent life for every child. If the answer is 'no,' it would be better for people to look at easing this population explosion."

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Posted: October 2011