Health Highlights: May 8, 2018
Head of U.S. Pediatricians' Group 'Appalled' by Trump Administration's Stance on Border Control Two Ebola Cases Confirmed in Democratic Republic of Congo Walmart Announces New Measures to Cut Opioid Abuse One Million Pounds of Prescription Drugs Collected on Latest Take Back Day Judge Says Coffee Sold in California Must Carry Cancer Warnings
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Head of U.S. Pediatricians' Group 'Appalled' by Trump Administration's Stance on Border Control
The president of the American Academy of Pediatrics says she is "appalled" by the Trump administration's zero tolerance illegal immigration policy that could separate children from their parents while the adults are prosecuted.
The Department of Homeland Security says it will refer all arrests for illegal entry to federal prosecutors.
Between October and April, people in families accounted for nearly one of every four Border Patrol arrests, so a major increase in prosecutions is likely to lead children and parents to be separated while parents go before the courts and spend time in jail, NPR reported.
Children separated from their parents would be supervised by the Health and Human Services Department, according to Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
"As a pediatrician, as a parent, as the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, I am appalled by a new policy reportedly signed by Department of Homeland Security that will forcibly separate children from their parents, a practice that this administration has already been carrying out for months," Dr. Colleen Kraft said in a statement.
"The AAP is opposed to this policy and will continue to urge the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice to reverse it immediately," she said.
"Separating children from their parents contradicts everything we stand for as pediatricians -- protecting and promoting children's health. In fact, highly stressful experiences, like family separation, can cause irreparable harm, disrupting a child's brain architecture and affecting his or her short- and long-term health. This type of prolonged exposure to serious stress -- known as toxic stress -- can carry lifelong consequences for children," Kraft said.
She added that the "new policy is the latest example of harmful actions by the Department of Homeland Security against immigrant families, hindering their right to seek asylum in our country and denying parents the right to remain with their children. We can and must do better for these families. We can and must remember that immigrant children are still children; they need our protection, not prosecution."
Two Ebola Cases Confirmed in Democratic Republic of Congo
Two cases of Ebola and at least 10 suspected cases have been reported in a northwestern town in Democratic Republic of Congo.
A person at the health ministry said an official announcement about the confirmed cases would be made Tuesday, according to The Guardian newspaper in the U.K.
It's been less than a year since the last incidence of Ebola in the central African country. Eight people were infected and four of them died.
This is the ninth time Ebola has been recorded in the DRC. The virus is named for the Ebola river in the DRC, The Guardian reported.
Walmart Announces New Measures to Cut Opioid Abuse
Walmart Inc. says it will take more steps to reduce opioid medication abuse and misuse.
Earlier this year, the company announced free opioid medication disposal in all its U.S. pharmacies.
On Monday, the company said that within the next 60 days, Walmart and Sam's Club will restrict initial acute opioid prescriptions to no more than a seven-day supply, with up to a 50 morphine milligram equivalent maximum per day.
This policy follows U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for opioid use. Where state law for fills on new acute opioid prescriptions is less than seven days, Walmart and Sam's Club will follow state law.
The company also said that as of Jan. 1, 2020, Walmart and Sam's Club will require e-prescriptions for controlled substances. Along with reducing the risk of errors, e-prescriptions cannot be altered or copied and are electronically trackable, according to the company.
It also said that by the end of August 2018 in states where permitted, Walmart and Sam's Club pharmacists will have access to and use the controlled substance tracking tool, NarxCare, to help them make dispensing decisions.
The company also said it will have the opioid overdose reversal medication naloxone behind the pharmacy counters of its stores and clubs and dispensing naloxone upon request, where allowed by state law.
Also, the company said its pharmacists provide CDC-directed naloxone recommendations for patients who might be at risk for opioid overdose.
One Million Pounds of Prescription Drugs Collected on Latest Take Back Day
Americans turned in a record 1 million pounds of unwanted and unused prescription drugs during the latest national Prescription Drug Take Back Day on April 28.
The largest amounts of medications turned in were in Texas (nearly 83,000 pounds) and California (about 70,000 pounds), according to the Department of Justice, the Washington Times reported.
This is the 15th such event since the Drug Enforcement Agency held its first one in 2010. In total, the program has collected nearly 9 million pounds of unused and unwanted prescription drugs.
The opioid crisis in the U.S. has increased the importance of the event, according to the Times. Last year, more than 64,000 Americans died of drug overdoses, 42,000 of which were linked to opioids, Justice Department data show.
Judge Says Coffee Sold in California Must Carry Cancer Warnings
Coffee sold in California must carry cancer warnings, a judge said in a final ruling Monday.
Superior Court Judge Elihu Berle said coffee roasters and retailers did not prove that benefits from drinking coffee outweighed any cancer risks from a chemical called acrylamide that is a byproduct of the roasting process, the Associated Press reported.
Berle's final decision confirms one he initially made in March in a lawsuit brought against about 90 companies by the nonprofit group Council for Education and Research on Toxics under a California law that requires warnings on products and in places where chemicals that can cause cancer are present.
The final ruling means the nonprofit group can seek a permanent injunction that would either lead to coffee warning labels or a pledge by the coffee industry to remove the chemical from their product, as the potato chip industry was forced to do when sued by the council, the AP reported.
Attorney Raphael Metzger represents the nonprofit and said he hopes mediation will lead to a settlement.
If no agreement is reached, the next step in the legal process would award civil penalties as high as $2,500 per person exposed each day since the suit was filed in 2010, the AP reported.