Health Highlights: May 29, 2019

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

First Trial of Opioid Maker Begins

Johnson & Johnson created a deadly demand for opioid painkillers, lawyers for the state of Oklahoma said in opening statements at the United States’ first trial in which a drug company is being sued for its role in the nation’s opioid crisis.

Lawyers for Johnson & Johnson responded that the company acted responsibly and lawfully in an effort to offer relief to chronic pain patients, The New York Times reported.

The trial is being heard by a judge without a jury and is being livestreamed to the public.

Two other opioid makers — Purdue Pharma and Teva Pharmaceuticals — settled with Oklahoma. Purdue will pay $270 million and Teva will pay $85 million, The Times reported.

The Oklahoma vs. J&J case is being closely watched by lawyers in nearly 1,900 similar state and federal cases in the U.S.


Being Transgender No Longer Classified as Mental Health Disorder by WHO

Transgender people will no longer be classified as having a mental disorder by the World Health Organization.

WHO officials voted to move the term they use for transgender people — gender incongruence — from its mental disorders chapter to its sexual health chapter in the 11th revision of its International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-11), CNN reported.

That revision takes effect on Jan. 1, 2022.

The term gender incongruence is used by the WHO to describe people whose gender identity is different from the gender they were assigned at birth, CNN reported.

The new classification for transgender people is expected to improve their social acceptance while still providing them with access to important health resources, the WHO said last year when it announced the planned change.

Gender incongruence “was taken out from the mental health disorders because we had a better understanding that this wasn’t actually a mental health condition, and leaving it there was causing stigma,” Dr. Lale Say, coordinator of WHO’s Adolescents and at-Risk Population team, said last June, CNN reported.

“So, in order to reduce the stigma while also ensuring access to necessary health interventions, this was placed in a different chapter,” Say explained.


Fewer U.S. Adults Being Diagnosed With Diabetes: CDC

It’s unclear why new cases of diabetes among U.S. adults are decreasing while obesity rates continue to climb, experts say.

The number of new diabetes cases fell from 1.7 million in 2009 to 1.3 million in 2017, according to federal data released Tuesday, the Associated Press reported.

“The bottom line is we don’t know for sure what’s driving these trends,” said Dr. Stephen Benoit, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the lead author of the report in the journal BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care.

Possible reasons include changes in testing and getting people to make healthy lifestyle changes before they develop diabetes, the AP reported.

The data show that the rate of new diabetes cases fell from 9.2 per 1,000 in 2009 to 6 per 1,000 U.S. adults in 2017, a 35% drop. That’s longest decline since the government started tracking the data nearly 40 years ago, according to the CDC.

The decrease mainly occurred among white adults. Diabetes has continued to rise among young adults and blacks and Hispanics, the AP reported.

And despite the decline in the number of new cases, the number of Americans with diabetes has been stable at 80 per 1,000 adults, or about 21 million.


Work Burnout, Gaming Addiction Classified as Diseases by WHO

Work burnout is now a legitimate medical diagnosis, and gaming addiction is a mental health disorder, the World Health Organization says.

They will be included in the WHO’s International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), which guides medical providers in diagnosing diseases.

Burnout is now included in the handbooks’ section on problems related to employment or unemployment, CNN reported.

The handbook says doctors can diagnose someone with burnout if they have the following symptoms: feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from their job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to their job; and reduced professional efficacy.

But before diagnosing burnout, doctors should first rule out adjustment disorder and anxiety and mood disorders, according to the handbook. It also said the diagnosis is restricted to work, and not applicable to other areas of life, CNN reported.

In terms of gaming addiction, the handbook says it’s a disorder “characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences,” Newsweek reported.

The WHO noted that “studies suggest that gaming disorder affects only a small proportion of people who engage in digital- or video-gaming activities.”

The American Psychiatric Association has been reluctant to categorize gaming as an addiction. It says research is ongoing, including whether gaming is a sign of depression or anxiety, Newsweek reported.

A number of experts also question WHO’s decision to include gaming disorder in the updated ICD, which will not be adopted until 2022.

More than 150 million Americans play video games, and 60% of Americans play every day, according to the Entertainment Software Association, Newsweek reported.