Health Highlights: Sept. 10, 2019

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

Don’t Use E-Cigarettes: AMA

Americans should not use electronic cigarettes while health officials investigate cases of severe lung illness that may be linked to the devices, the American Medical Association said Monday.

“In light of increasing reports of e-cigarette-associated lung illnesses across the country, the AMA urges the public to avoid the use of e-cigarette products until health officials further investigate and understand the cause of these illnesses. The AMA recommends anyone who has recently used e-cigarette products to seek medical care promptly if they experience any adverse health effects, particularly coughing, shortness of breath or chest pain,” AMA President Dr. Patrice Harris said in a statement.

“The AMA also calls on physicians to make sure their patients are aware of the dangers of e-cigarettes, including toxins and carcinogens, and swiftly report any suspected cases of lung illness associated with e-cigarette use to their state or local health department,” Harris added.

“The e-cigarette-related lung illnesses currently sweeping across the country reaffirm our belief that the use of e-cigarettes and vaping is an urgent public health epidemic that must be addressed. We must not stand by while e-cigarettes continue to go unregulated,” Harris said.

“We urge the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to speed up the regulation of e-cigarettes and remove all unregulated products from the market. We also call on the FDA to immediately ban flavors, as well as marketing practices, that enhance the appeal of e-cigarette products to youth,” Harris concluded.


California Passes Laws to Reduce Fake Medical Exemptions for Vaccines

Bills to reduce fake medical exemptions for school children’s vaccinations were signed into law Monday by California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

“This legislation provides new tools to better protect public health, and does so in a way that ensures parents, doctors, public health officials and school administrators all know the rules of the road moving forward,” Newsom said in a statement, the Associated Press reported.

The new rules are needed to “keep children safe from preventable diseases,” said Democratic Sen. Richard Pan, of San Francisco.

Enforcement will begin next year, which means that doctors who previously granted a high number of medical exemptions for vaccinations won’t be investigated, the AP reported.

Officials will have the power to revoke any medical exemptions written by a doctor who’s faced disciplinary action.


Opioid Maker Purdue Pharma Expected to File for Bankruptcy

Settlement talks with OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma over its role in the United States’ opioid crisis have reached a stalemate and the company is expected to file for bankruptcy, according to state attorneys general involved in the negotiations.

The talks have been underway for months in an attempt to determine Purdue’s responsibility for the opioid epidemic that has resulted in 400,000 deaths over the past two decades, the Associated Press reported.

The “negotiations are at an impasse, and we expect Purdue to file for bankruptcy protection imminently,” Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery and North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein wrote in an update to attorneys general.

“Purdue declines to comment on that in its entirety,” Purdue spokeswoman Josephine Martin told the AP.

The first federal trial over the opioid epidemic could begin next month and involve nearly every state and hundreds of local governments.