Health Highlights: Sept. 22, 2020
Perrigo Asthma Inhalers Recalled Due to Clog Risk U.S. Hospitals Charge Private Insurers Much More Than Medicare CDC Offers Guidance for a COVID-Safe Halloween CDC Removes New Coronavirus Guidelines Just Days After Posting Them
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Perrigo Asthma Inhalers Recalled Due to Clog Risk
Perrigo inhalers have been recalled because they could clog and not provide patients with any or enough medication, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says.
The retail recall is for all unexpired albuterol sulfate inhalation aerosol made by Catalent Pharma Solutions for Perrigo Pharmaceutical Company. The inhalers are used to treat asthma and other airway/lung conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Patients should continue to use the Perrigo inhaler they have, as needed and as directed by a doctor, the FDA said.
Some of the recalled inhalers stop working after several uses. If their rescue albuterol inhaler malfunctions and doesn't relieve symptoms in an emergency situation, patients should immediately seek emergency care if needed, the FDA advised.
It recommended that patients have extra inhalers or an alternative treatment available in case of inhaler malfunction.
For more information, patients should talk with their health care provider or pharmacist, the FDA said.
U.S. Hospitals Charge Private Insurers Much More Than Medicare
U.S. hospitals charge private insurers 2.5 times more what they receive from Medicare for the same care, a new study finds.
RAND Corporation researchers also found that in six of the 49 states they looked at, private insurers were charged three times or more than what was paid by Medicare for overnight inpatient stays and outpatient visits, The New York Times reported.
The findings from the nonprofit organization add to debate over health care system reform and a government-run health plan, according to the newspaper.
"The prices are so high, the prices are so unaffordable -- it's just a runaway train," Gloria Sachdev, chief executive of the Employers' Forum of Indiana, a coalition that worked with RAND on the study, told The Times.
CDC Offers Guidance for a COVID-Safe Halloween
Door-to-door trick-or-treating, costume masks and parties are discouraged this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says in a new guidance.
"Many traditional Halloween activities can be high-risk for spreading viruses," according to the agency, CNN reported. "There are several safer, alternative ways to participate in Halloween."
The new guidance lists "low-risk, moderate and higher risk activities" for celebrating Halloween.
Low-risk activities include carving pumpkins and decorating your home, outdoor scavenger hunts, virtual costume contests and hosting a movie night with household members, CNN reported.
CDC Removes New Coronavirus Guidelines Just Days After Posting Them
New U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website guidelines suggesting that the new coronavirus can be transmitted by tiny droplets over a distance greater than six feet and that indoor ventilation is crucial to prevent its spread were removed from the agency's website late Monday morning.
The updated guidelines were posted Friday but removed Monday because they were a website error and don't "reflect our current state of knowledge," according to a top CDC official, the Washington Post reported.
The now-deleted guidelines matched what many scientists and independent public health experts have long been saying -- that the new coronavirus is airborne and transmitted through tiny droplets (aerosols) that hang in the air much longer than larger droplets produced by coughing or sneezing.
"These particles can be inhaled into the nose, mouth, airways, and lungs and cause infection," the now-deleted guidance said. "This is thought to be the main way the virus spreads."
Previously, the agency said the virus mainly spreads through large droplets that spread up to six feet, the Post reported.
"There is growing evidence that (small) droplets and airborne particles can remain suspended in the air and be breathed in by others, and travel distances beyond 6 feet (for example, during choir practice, in restaurants, or in fitness classes)," the agency said in the deleted guidelines. "In general, indoor environments without good ventilation increase this risk."
The CDC didn't suggest any new action to reduce the threat of airborne transmission of the new coronavirus, but experts said the deleted guidelines might have led to public behavior and policy changes.
That was "a major change" for the CDC, Jose-Luis Jimenez, a chemistry professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder who studies how aerosols spread the virus, told the Post after the agency instituted the now-deleted guideline on Friday.
"This is a good thing," Jimenez said at the time, "if we can reduce transmission because more people understand how it is spreading and know what to do to stop it."