Health Highlights: Sept. 5, 2019

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

Psychedelic Research Center Created at Johns Hopkins University

A research center that will assess the use of psychedelic drugs to treat conditions such as addiction, alcoholism and depression was announced by Johns Hopkins University.

“Johns Hopkins is deeply committed to exploring innovative treatments for our patients,” Paul Rothman, dean of the medical faculty and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine, said in a statement, ABC News reported.

“Our scientists have shown that psychedelics have real potential as medicine, and this new center will help us explore that potential,” Rothman added.

The center, which received $17 million in funding from a group a private donors, will also use psychedelic drugs to study the brain and behavior, ABC News reported.


White House Announces Nearly $2 Billion in Grants to Fight Opioid Epidemic

Nearly $2 billion in grants to help fight the U.S. opioid epidemic will be handed out to states and local governments, the White House says.

The Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration will provide $932 million to every state and some U.S. territories for opioid addiction treatment and recovery, the Associated Press reported.

A new, three-year program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help state and local governments better track overdose data will receive $900 million.

In the first year, 47 states and the District of Columbia will be among the jurisdictions sharing $301 million, the AP reported.


New Facebook, Instagram Pop-Up Windows Counter Vaccine Misinformation

Educational pop-up windows will now appear on Facebook and Instagram when people search for vaccine-related content.

The goal of the new feature is to counter the spread of anti-vaccine misinformation, according to Facebook, which owns Instagram, CNN reported.

Users in the United States will get a pop-up window connecting them to vaccine information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), while users outside the U.S. will be linked with the World Health Organization.

The CDC welcomed Facebook’s move.

“We know that parents often turn to social media to access health information and connect with other parents, and it can be difficult to determine what is accurate and who the credible sources of information are,” CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund said in an email, CNN reported.

Since the start of the year, the U.S. has had more than 1,200 confirmed measles cases in 31 states, and other countries have also had outbreaks.

Vaccine misinformation online has been a major factor in fewer people getting vaccinated, resulting outbreaks of measles and other preventable illnesses, according to public health experts, CNN reported.


Michigan First State to Ban Flavored E-Cigarettes

Michigan’s decision to become the first state to ban flavored electronic cigarettes is meant to protect young people, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says.

She said she decided to take the action after the state health department concluded that youth vaping was a public health emergency.

“My number one priority is keeping our kids safe and protecting the health of the people of Michigan,” Whitmer told the Washington Post.

She said e-cigarette companies use sweet flavors such as bubble gum and “fruit loops,” to get young people hooked on nicotine, with potentially long-term risk to their health.

The ban covers both retail and online sales and goes into effect immediately, but businesses will have 30 days to comply, the Post reported.

The ban will last for six months, and can be renewed for another six months. In the meantime, a permanent ban on flavored e-cigarettes will be developed, according to state officials.

The ban does not cover tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes, the Post reported.

Also banned are what Whitmer called misleading descriptions of vaping products such as “clear,” “safe” and “healthy,” and she ordered enforcement of an existing ban on billboard to ads for e-cigarettes.