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Health Highlights: Dec. 12, 2017

Last Updated: December 12, 2017.

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

FDA Warns Companies Selling Products as Alternatives to Illegal Drugs

Warning letters have been sent to companies for marketing and selling products as alternatives to illegal drugs, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says.

The products -- a drink called Legal Lean Syrup and a snortable chocolate powder called Coco Loko -- may pose safety concerns.

"As a physician and a parent, I'm deeply troubled by the unlawful marketing of these potentially dangerous products, especially since they are so easily accessible by minors. Encouraging the use of snortable chocolate as an alternative to illegal street drugs is not acceptable -- there are very real consequences to snorting any powder, not to mention the societal dangers of promoting drug abuse," FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said in an agency news release.

"At a time where drug addiction is threatening the fabric of American society, we must take action when we see efforts that may further fuel illicit drug abuse. We'll continue to vigorously target bad actors that sell unapproved products, including products that contain undeclared drug ingredients," Gottlieb said.

The warning letters were sent to Arco Globus Trading LLC, Legal Lean LLC and LegalLeanStore.com. They have 15 working days to respond and outline what corrective measures they will take. Failure to do so could result in regulatory actions such as seizure or injunction, the FDA said.

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Next Flu Pandemic Could Appear in Spring or Summer: Study

The next flu pandemic could appear in spring or summer rather than winter, according to researchers.

They found that while winter is the normal flu season, many major flu outbreaks were first detected between late March and early July. That includes the 1889, 1918 (the Spanish flu), 1957, 1968 and 2009 (the swine flu) epidemics, The New York Times reported.

A person with the seasonal flu may have some protection against other flu viruses, even genetically different ones, according to Spencer Fox, a graduate student in infectious disease modeling at the University of Texas at Austin and one of the study authors.

That protection lasts about six weeks and even a highly infectious flu virus would be temporarily slowed during the winter if a large proportion of the population already had the seasonal flu, Fox told The Times.

But the new virus could take hold once that protection fades. That would be in late March at the earliest.

The study was published in the journal PLoS Computational Biology.


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