Health Highlights: Sept. 22, 2015

Health Highlights: Sept. 22, 2015

Health Highlights: Sept. 22, 2015

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

FDA Questions Safe Use of Painkiller Tramadol in Kids

The use of the pain medicine tramadol in patients 17 and younger is being reviewed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration due to a rare but serious risk of slowed or difficult breathing.

The risk may be especially high among children who receive the drug after surgery to remove their tonsils and/or adenoids.

The FDA said it is analyzing all available information and will make its findings and recommendations public when the review is complete.

The FDA has not approved tramadol for use in children, but the drug is used "off-label" in young patients. Doctors should consider using other pain medicines approved for use in children, the agency said.

If children taking tramadol show any signs of slow or shallow breathing, difficult or noisy breathing, confusion or unusual sleepiness, parents and caregivers should stop use of the drug and seek immediate medical attention by calling 911 or taking the child to an emergency department, the FDA said.

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Unwanted Sexual Contact Reported by 1 in 4 Female Undergrads: Survey

Nearly one-fourth of undergraduate women surveyed at more than two dozen U.S. universities say they experienced unwanted sexual contact while at college, according to the new poll.

Twenty-three percent of undergraduate women said they were physically forced, or threatened with force, into engaging in nonconsensual sexual contact. The rate was five percent among undergraduate men, the Associated Press reported.

Female freshman were more likely than older students to be victims of the most serious sexual assaults -- those involving penetration. About 17 percent of freshmen women said they suffered this type of assault, compared with about 11 percent of those in their senior year.

The findings are from the Association of American Universities Campus Climate Survey, the AP reported.

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Former Peanut Company Owner Gets 28-Year Prison Sentence for Salmonella Outbreak

The former owner of the Peanut Corporation of America received a 28-year prison sentence for his role in a 2008-09 salmonella outbreak that killed nine people and sickened hundreds more.

The punishment handed out to Stewart Parnell, 61, is the most severe punishment ever given to a producer in a foodborne illness case in the United States, the Associated Press reported.

Salmonella contamination in peanut butter produced by the Peanut Corporation of America's plant in southwest Georgia led to one of the largest food recalls in U.S. history.

Last year, a federal jury convicted Parnell of knowingly shipping contaminated peanut butter and of faking results of lab tests meant to detect salmonella. Two other co-defendants were also found guilty, the AP reported.

"These acts were driven simply by the desire to profit and to protect profits notwithstanding the known risks" from salmonella, Judge W. Louis Sands said. "This is commonly and accurately referred to as greed."

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Non-Profit Foundation Regains Rights to TB Drug

Outrage over a huge price hike prompted a not-for-profit group to buy back the rights to a tuberculosis drug it recently sold to a drug company.

Purdue Research Foundation in Indiana sold the rights to Cycloserine to Rodelis Therapeutics three weeks ago, and the company raised the price for 30 pills from $480 to $10,800, the Wall Street Journal reported.

That meant the cost of taking the pills twice a day would be $260,000 a year.

The foundation asked the drug company to return the rights to the drug after public health officials said the price hike would prevent patients from receiving the drug.

The foundation will now charge $1,050 for 30 pills, saying its slight price increase will help cover the $1 million it loses each year making the drug, WSJ reported.

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New Advance in Lab-Grown Kidneys

Scientists who created lab-grown kidneys that worked after being transplanted into pigs and rats say their success brings them a step closer to being able to grow fully functioning replacement kidneys for people.

After being transplanted into the animals, the lab-grown kidney passed urine just like natural kidneys. This was not the case in earlier versions, which ballooned under the pressure of the urine. In the latest effort, the Japanese researchers added extra plumbing to prevent the problem, BBC News reported.

The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"This is an interesting step forward. The science looks strong and they have good data in animals," Professor Chris Mason, an expert in stem cells and regenerative medicine at University College London in the U.K., told BBC News.

"But that's not to say this will work in humans. We are still years off that. It's very much mechanistic. It moves us closer to understanding how the plumbing might work," Mason added.

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