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Health Highlights: Nov. 1, 2019

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

48,000 Opioid Deaths in U.S. in 2017

There were 48,000 opioid overdose deaths in the United States in 2017, and nearly two-thirds of those deaths were caused by synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

Nearly all racial and ethnic groups and all age groups had significant increases in opioid and synthetic opioid overdose death rates between 2015 and 2017, CNN reported.

The largest increases were among black adults in large metropolitan areas, with a 103% rise in opioid-related deaths and a 361% rise in synthetic opioid-related deaths.

The CDC said the U.S. has also seen an increase in deaths from cocaine and psychostimulants such as methamphetamine, MDMA and methylphenidate (Ritalin), CNN reported.


Drug Used to Reduce Preterm Birth Risk Should be Taken off Market: FDA Committee

Makena, a drug used to reduce the risk of preterm births, should be taken off the U.S. market, a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee recommends.

The 9-7 vote in favor of withdrawing approval of the drug came in response to evidence suggesting it’s not effective, CNN reported.

While not required to, the FDA often follows the advice of its advisory committees.

Makena — a progestin hormone administered as an injection — was approved by the FDA in 2011 to reduce the risk of preterm birth in women who have a history of spontaneous preterm birth, CNN reported.

The recommendation by the Bone, Reproductive and Urologic Drugs Advisory Committee to halt sales of the drug came in the wake of findings from a study published last week in the American Journal of Perinatology.

After the study was published, the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine issued updated clinical guidance telling health care providers to inform patients about “uncertainty regarding the benefit” of the drug, CNN reported.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said its clinical guidance on Makena will remain in effect.

“ACOG’s guidance is based on a review of the best available literature. As such, we will continue to monitor this topic, evaluate additional literature and any further analyses as published, and address findings as needed in relevant clinical guidance,” Dr. Christopher Zahn, vice president for practice activities, said in the statement.

Makena is made by AMAG Pharmaceuticals, which was disappointed by the FDA committee’s vote, the company’s chief medical officer said in a statement, CNN reported.

“We are committed to working with the FDA to identify feasible ways to generate additional efficacy data on Makena while retaining current access to the therapy for at-risk pregnant women,” Dr. Julie Krop said.

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