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Health Highlights: Nov. 17, 2016

Last Updated: November 17, 2016.

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

New Drug Approved for Postmenopause-Linked Sexual Pain

A new drug to treat postmenopause-related pain during sexual intercourse has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The drug Intrarosa (prasterone) is a once-daily vaginal insert and the first FDA-approved product to contain the active ingredient prasterone, also known as dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA).

In two 12-week clinical trials that included 406 postmenopausal women ages 40-80, Intrarosa was found to be more effective than a placebo at reducing the severity of pain during sexual intercourse, according to the FDA.

During menopause, levels of estrogen decline in vaginal tissues, which may cause a condition known as vulvar and vaginal and atrophy (VVA), leading to symptoms such as pain during sexual intercourse.

"Pain during sexual intercourse is one of the most frequent symptoms of VVA reported by postmenopausal women," Dr. Audrey Gassman, deputy director of the FDA's Division of Bone, Reproductive, and Urologic Products, said in an agency news release.

Intrarosa is marketed by Endoceutics Inc. of Quebec, Canada.


HHS Expands List of Those Able to Prescribe Drug to Treat Opioid Addiction

Nurse practitioners and physician assistants will be allowed to prescribe medication to treat people addicted to opioids, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday.

The move is the latest in the effort to combat that opioid abuse epidemic in the country.

Nurse practitioners and physician assistants can immediately take the 24 hours of required training to prescribe buprenorphine to treat opioid addiction. Those who complete the training and seek to prescribe buprenorphine for up to 30 patients will be able to apply to do so beginning in early 2017.

Previously, only doctors could prescribe buprenorphine.

"Today's action will provide even more access to medication-assisted treatment," SAMHSA Principal Deputy Administrator Kana Enomoto said in an agency news release. "Allowing nurse practitioners and physician assistants to prescribe buprenorphine will greatly expand access to quality, evidence-based treatment methods for those most in need of assistance."

HHS also plans to allow nurse practitioners and physician assistants who have prescribed at the 30 patient limit for one year to apply for a waiver to prescribe buprenorphine for up to 100 patients.


Engineer in N.J Train Crash Had Undiagnosed Sleep Apnea: Lawyer

The engineer of a New Jersey commuter train that slammed into the Hoboken Terminal had undiagnosed severe sleep apnea, according to his lawyer.

Engineer Thomas Gallagher recently learned he had severe sleep apnea, and the test results were sent to federal officials on Oct. 31, lawyer Jack Arseneault said Wednesday, The New York Times reported.

Gallagher has told officials he did not remember the September crash, and believes his sleep apnea might explain what happened, Arseneault said.

The crash killed one person and injured more than 100 others. Officials have said the train suddenly accelerated just before the crash, The Times reported.


Grated Cheese Products Recalled by 4C Foods

Possible salmonella contamination has led to the recall of eight types of grated cheese products from 4C Foods Corp of Brooklyn, N.Y.

Six of the products are sold under the 4C brand names and two under the Cento brand name. No illnesses associated with the recalled products have been reported, according to the company.

The products were produced at the company's Brooklyn facility before November 12 and sold nationwide. They have "Best By" dates between November 12, 2016, and November 12, 2018.

For more information, consumers can call the company toll-free at 1-866-969-1920.

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