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Health Highlights: Sept. 1, 2017

More U.S. Salmonella Illnesses Tied to Mexican Papayas Health Advocates Petition FDA for Ban on High-Dose Opioids

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

More U.S. Salmonella Illnesses Tied to Mexican Papayas

A total of 201 people have now been sickened in the United States with Salmonella bacteria after eating Maradol papayas imported from Mexico, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday.

Twenty-eight more cases have been reported since the CDC last updated its news on the outbreak on Aug. 18, and that includes seven cases bad enough to require hospitalization. Overall, 65 people have now been hospitalized due to the outbreak of the gastrointestinal illness. Cases have emerged in two new states, Florida and South Carolina, the CDC said.

The papayas were traced to a number of farms in Mexico, and the CDC investigation is ongoing.

"People are urged not to eat Maradol papayas from Carica de Campeche, Caraveo Produce, or El Zapotanito farms in Mexico," the CDC said. "If they aren't sure what farm their papaya came from, they should ask the place of purchase. When in doubt, don't eat it and throw it out."


Health Advocates Petition FDA for Ban on High-Dose Opioids

A coalition of safety advocates and state health officials are asking the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ban high-dose opioid painkillers to help prevent accidental overdoses.

The petition filed Thursday targets opioid pills that, when taken as directed, comprise a total daily dose of more than 90 milligrams of morphine, the Associated Press reported.

This dose is dangerous for patients and does not improve pain levels or ability to function compared to lower doses, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Groups signing the petition include the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, the National Safety Council and the American College of Medical Toxicology.

Among the pills targeted by the petition is the Oxycontin 80-milligram tablet, which, taken twice daily, would be the equivalent of 240 milligrams of morphine, the APreported.

Robert Josephson, a spokesman for Purdue Pharma, which makes Oxycontin, told AP that the "petition and issue should be discussed by the scientific experts at FDA and we look forward to participating in such a discussion." He said it's important to strike a balance between the need to ease patients' severe pain against the risk for addiction.

For its part, the FDA has not yet commented on the petition, but Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb has called the opioid epidemic his "highest immediate priority," the AP said. The FDA is expected to respond to the petition within six months.

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