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Health Highlights: Feb. 8, 2017

Last Updated: February 08, 2017.

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

1 in 3 Americans Believe Obamacare, Affordable Care Act Are Different: Survey

Many Americans don't realize that Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act are the same thing, or what will happen if it is repealed, a new survey reveals.

The Morning Consult poll found that 35 percent of respondents said they thought Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act were different policies (17 percent) or didn't know if they were the same or different (18 percent), The New York Times reported.

This confusion was highest among people ages 18-29 and those with incomes below $50,000 a year, two groups that could face major impacts by repeal.

About 45 percent of respondents did not know the Affordable Care Act would be repealed, The Times reported.

Sixty-one percent of respondents knew many people would lose coverage through Medicaid or subsidies for private health insurance if the Affordable Care Act were repealed and no replacement put in place.

Sixteen percent believed "coverage through Medicaid and subsidies that help people buy private health insurance would not be affected" by repeal, and 23 percent did not know.

The confusion over the Affordable Care Act could affect public debate over repealing the policy, according to The Times.

If many people believe repeal would not affect the popular provisions of the policy, they might not understand the potential effects of the proposals being considered by Republicans.

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FDA Should Ban Dangerous IV Solution: Petition

A type of intravenous (IV) solution that can cause life-threatening side effects should be banned immediately, Public Citizen says in a petition to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The group said there are safer, equally effective and cheaper alternatives to hydroxyethyl starch (HES) solutions that are used mainly in hospitals.

Soon after they became available in 1972, evidence emerged that HES solutions could impair blood clotting and that they remained in body tissues long after being given to patients, according to Public Citizen.

Later evidence showed that HES solutions can cause kidney failure and death.

In 2013, the FDA issued a safety alert about these side effects and warned against using HES solutions in critically ill patients, particularly those with sepsis. But the agency continued to allow the use of HES solutions in other patients despite evidence that the solutions posed the same risks to all patients, Public Citizen said.

"The evidence on the dangers of HES solutions is overwhelming," petition co-author Dr. Sammy Almashat, researcher with Public Citizen's Health Research Group, said in a news release from the organization.

"There is no good justification, other than corporate profits, to subject any patient to these dangers when there are so many equally effective but much safer alternatives available," Almashat said.

Two co-petitioners are leading experts on critical care and fluid management.

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Maker of Memory Supplement Charged With Fraud

A company that sells a memory supplement based on a glowing jellyfish protein has been charged with fraud by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the New York attorney general.

Officials allege that Wisconsin-based Quincy Bioscience is falsely marketing Prevagen as a memory booster and falsely claiming the product can make its way into the brain, NBC News reported.

"The Federal Trade Commission and New York State Attorney General have charged the marketers of the dietary supplement Prevagen with making false and unsubstantiated claims that the product improves memory, provides cognitive benefits, and is clinically shown to work," an FTC statement said.

"The extensive national advertising campaign for Prevagen, including TV spots on national broadcast and cable networks such as CNN, Fox News, and NBC, featured charts depicting rapid and dramatic improvement in memory for users of the product," according to the statement.

The FTC said Quincy tried but failed to show that Prevagen, which sells for between $40 and $90 for a bottle, can benefit users, NBC News reported.

Quincy said Prevagen is safe and that it will fight the charges.

"We vehemently disagree with these allegations made by only two FTC commissioners. This case is another example of government overreach and regulators extinguishing innovation by imposing arbitrary new rules on small businesses like ours," the company said in a statement, NBC News reported.


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