Health Highlights: Nov. 7, 2018

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

Pro-Marijuana Ballots Pass in Michigan, Missouri

After voters on Tuesday approved recreational marijuana in Michigan and medical marijuana in Missouri, and Democrats took control of the House, some marijuana proponents say they’ll push for federal legalization of the drug.

“We are going for the jugular on this issue,” said Michael Collins, interim director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance, NBC News reported.

He pointed out that a number of House Democrats support legalization.

“The debate over should we legalize is over, and it’s now how should we legalize,” Collins said.

But marijuana proponents are getting ahead of themselves, according to Kevin Sabet, founder of anti-legalization nonprofit Smart Approaches to Marijuana, who noted that some marijuana proposals were defeated.

“Tonight showed that legalization is not inevitable,” he told NBC News.

Michigan is the 10th state to approve recreational marijuana and Missouri is the 32nd state to approve medical marijuana, according to the Drug Policy Alliance.

“Marijuana has now been legalized for adult use in one out of every five states, so I think it’s safe to say federal laws are in need of an update,” Steve Hawkins, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a statement, NBC News reported.

“We hope the results of this election will inspire Congress to finally start addressing the tension that exists between state and federal marijuana laws in our nation,” he said.

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Medicaid Expansion Approved by Voters in Three Republican-Leaning States

Hundreds of thousands more low-income Americans could get health insurance after voters in three Republican-leaning states approved Medicaid expansion in the midterm elections.

Public support for expansion in Utah, Nebraska and Idaho conflicts with many Republican officials’ refusal to adopt the provision in the Affordable Care Act, CNBC reported.

Medicaid expansion could extend coverage to 150,000 low-income people in Utah, according to the Salt Lake Tribune, 92,000 people in Nebraska, according to the Lincoln Journal Star, and 62,000 people in Idaho, according to the Associated Press.

Before the midterm elections, 33 states and Washington, D.C. had expanded Medicaid, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

In Tuesday’s elections, 41 percent of voters said health care was the most important issue. That made it the top concern, ahead of the economy and immigration, CNBC reported.

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Duncan Hines Cake Mixes Recalled

Four varieties of Duncan Hines cake mix have been recalled due to possible salmonella contamination.

The recalled products include Classic White, Classic Butter Golden, Classic Yellow and Signature Confetti cakes mixes, Conagra Brands said.

U.S. health officials are investigating a salmonella outbreak in which five people have become ill. Some said they ate a cake mix before becoming ill, and some may have eaten raw batter. Consumers are reminded not to eat any raw batter.

The recalled cake mixes should be returned to place of purchase. For more information, consumers can call Conagra at 1-888-299-7646, 9 a.m. to 5 pm EST, Monday through Friday, or go to the company’s website.

Salmonella can cause serious and sometimes deadly infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems.

Product Description and Brand Product UPC Best If Used By Date
(found on box top)
Duncan Hines Classic White Cake 15.25oz. 644209307500 MAR 7 2019
MAR 8 2019
MAR 9 2019
MAR 10 2019
MAR 12 2019
MAR 13 2019
Duncan Hines Classic Yellow Cake 15.25oz. 644209307494 MAR 9 2019
MAR 10 2019
MAR 12 2019
MAR 13 2019
Duncan Hines Classic Butter Golden Cake 15.25oz. 644209307593 MAR 7 2019
MAR 8 2019
MAR 9 2019
Duncan Hines Signature Confetti Cake 15.25oz. 644209414550 MAR 12 2019
MAR 13 2019

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Naloxone Products Remain Effective Past Expiration Date

Two naloxone products used to treat opioid overdose patients remain chemically stable long after their expiration dates, researchers say.

Naloxone is the generic name of the drug. The researchers found that the naloxone nasal spray Narcan was chemically stable for 10 months after its labeled expiration date and that the naloxone injection Evzio was chemically stable for at least one year after its listed expiration date, CNN reported.

The products tested were not kept in ideal storage conditions, according to the authors of the study presented Tuesday at the PharmaSci 360 annual meeting.

“I dispense naloxone to patients all the time, and I had a couple come in after it had expired, and they had used it, and people were brought back to life,” said principal investigator Charles Babcock, an assistant clinical professor in the School of Pharmacy, Marshall University, CNN reported.

Naloxone has long been used by medical providers to treat opioid overdoses, but it is increasingly provided to drug addicts and people around them. Naloxone given by bystanders saved at least 26,500 people from drug overdoses between 1996 and 2014, according to the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse.

This study “is obviously an important one for this day and time because of the opioid crisis that we are facing,” Chris McCurdy, 2018 President of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists, told CNN.

“Showing that these drugs are actually stable beyond their expiration date indicates that we need to go back to the manufacturers and regulatory agencies and get adequate expiration dates on these products,” said McCurdy, a professor of medicinal chemistry at the University of Florida College of Pharmacy.

He was not involved in the study.

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Congo Ebola Outbreak May be Uncontainable: CDC Director

It may not be possible to bring the Ebola outbreak in Congo under control and the deadly disease may become entrenched in the northeastern part of the country, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield says.

The outbreak in North Kivu province is in its fourth month and there have been nearly 300 cases, including 186 deaths, the Washington Post reported.

Ebola was first identified in 1976. No previous outbreak has resulted in the persistent presence of the disease.

If that occurs in North Kivu, “this will mean that we’ve lost the ability to trace contacts, stop transmission chains and contain the outbreak,” said Tom Inglesby, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, the Post reported.

The center hosted the Capital Hill briefing that featured the Ebola discussion with Redfield.

HealthDay