Health Highlights: July 18, 2018

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

Controversial New Arizona Law OKs Use of Frozen Embryos After Divorce

A new law in Arizona allows divorced people to go against the wishes of their former spouse and use their frozen embryos to have a baby.

Supporters of the law that took effect July 1 say it will protect a spouse’s right to his or her embryos, while opponents say it could force people to become parents against their will, CBS News reported.

The law says the spouse that is not awarded the embryos “has no parental responsibilities and no right, obligation or interest with respect to” the child, which means they wouldn’t have to pay child support.

“Most courts in the United States that have looked at the situation of embryos have decided that they will only bring the embryos to term if both sides mutually consent,” according to CBS News legal analyst Rikki Klieman.

“Apparently in Arizona under this legislation you can compel someone to have a child they do not want to have,” Klieman added.

Some abortion rights advocates are concerned that the Arizona law is an attempt to establish the “personhood” of unborn embryos, which could impact women’s reproductive rights, CBS News reported.

There are more than 600,000 frozen embryos in the U.S., according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

In cases involving use of embryos, courts often rule in favor of the person who does not want the embryos used, CBS News reported.


Novartis Freezes U.S. Drug Prices

Novartis says it will freeze prices on its drug products in the United States for the rest of this year.

Wednesday’s announcement from the Swiss company follows a similar move last week by Pfizer in response to anger over rising drug prices, The New York Times reported.

“We thought that was prudent, given the dynamic environment we’re currently in,” Vas Narasimhan, Novartis’s chief executive, told investors during an earnings call.

Drug makers have faced widespread condemnation for steep price increases in the U.S., The Times reported.


EPA Revises Coal Ash Handling Rules

Critics are slamming changes to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations on the handling of coal ash.

Coal ash is the leftover waste from coal-burning power plants. The new rules revise 2015 regulations implemented by the Obama administration after two large industrial coal ash spills, CNN reported.

The new standards took effect Wednesday and give more power to industry and states to regulate coal ash.

Revision of those rules is one of the first major acts of EPA acting director Andrew Wheeler, who was an energy industry lobbyist before he became second-in-command at the EPA in April this year.

The new rules are a gift to industry, critics say.

The Trump “administration is granting the wishes of the lobbyists and the lawyers for the coal ash utilities and is turning its back on the families and communities across America that are suffering the consequences of primitive coal ash disposal,” said Frank Holleman, a senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center, CNN reported.


Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Hy-Vee Spring Pasta Salad

A salmonella outbreak that’s sickened 21 people in five states has been linked to Hy-Vee Spring Pasta Salad. Five people have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

Consumers and retailers should not eat, serve or sell the pasta salad, the CDC said.

Illnesses associated with the outbreak began on dates ranging from June 23 to July 3, 2018. Hy-Vee removed Spring Pasta Salad from all of its stores on July 16 and recalled the product on July 17.

The recalled pasta salad was sold in 1-pound (16 oz.) and 3-pound (48 oz.) plastic containers, or scooped at the deli counter into clear plastic containers. They containers have expiration dates ranging from June 22, 2018, to August 3, 2018.

The pasta salad was sold in all Hy-Vee grocery stores in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Consumers with the recalled pasta salad should return it to the store for a refund or throw it away. Even if some of the pasta salad was eaten and no one got sick, do not eat it, the CDC said.

The ingredient in the pasta salad that was contaminated has not been pinpointed. The investigation is continuing.

Illness (diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps) from salmonella begins 12 to 72 hours after swallowing the germ. Most people recover within a week, but some cases last longer and are more severe, the CDC said.

Posted: July 2018

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