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Health Highlights: Dec. 19, 2018

Last Updated: December 19, 2018.

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

Prescribe Overdose Antidote Along With Opioid Painkillers: FDA Advisory Panels

The labels of prescription opioid painkillers should advise doctors to consider simultaneously prescribing the opioid overdose antidote naloxone, two U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panels recommend.

The 12-11 vote during a joint meeting of the committees was described by several members as a message to the federal government to make naloxone more widely available, easier to obtain, and cheaper, the Washington Post reported.

Naloxone can be injected or sprayed into the noses of overdose victims.

Earlier this year, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams issued an advisory urging opioid users, their families and friends to keep naloxone nearby, the Post reported.

While not required to do so, the FDA often follows the recommendations of its advisory committees.

In 2017, there were a record 70,000 drug overdose deaths, including a record 47,600 opioid overdose deaths in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Tubal Ligation Most Common Birth Control Method Used by U.S. Women

Female sterilization (tubal ligation) is the most common method of birth control relied on by women in the United States, a new government report says.

That's followed by the birth control pill, long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) such as intrauterine devices and contraceptive implants, and male condoms, CNN reported.

Data gathered between 2015 and 2017 from more than 5,500 women in the National Survey of Family Growth showed that nearly 65 percent of respondents aged 15 to 49 said they used some sort of contraception in the month they were surveyed.

Tubal ligation was the most common method of contraception (18.6 percent), followed by the birth control pill (12.6 percent), LARCs (10.3 percent), and male condoms (8.7 percent), CNN reported.

Male sterilization (vasectomy) was relied on by 5.9 percent of women, while the birth control shot Depo-Provera and the contraceptive ring or the patch accounted for 3.2 percent of birth control methods.

All other methods of birth control were used by 5.6 percent of women, CNN reported.

The findings were published Wednesday by the National Center for Health Statistics at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


New Law Boosts Fight Against Sickle Cell Disease

A sickle cell disease prevention and treatment program in the United States has been reauthorized to receive nearly $5 million each year over the next five years.

The measure was included in a bipartisan bill that aims to combat the disease and became law Tuesday night. One of the bill's authors was Senator Cory Booker, D-N.J.

"Even though sickle cell disease is the most common inherited blood disorder in our country, research and treatment lags behind that of other chronic illnesses," Booker said in a statement, NBC News reported.

"Our legislation will help find new ways to improve the lives of people suffering from sickle cell disease. It's time we start treating sickle cell disease as a serious and debilitating illness and allocate adequate resources to monitoring, researching, and treating it," Booker said.

This year, the National Institutes of Health received about $115 million for research into the disease this year, $6 million more than in 2017, NBC News reported.

Sickle cell is an inherited lifelong disease that affects 100,000 Americans -- mainly blacks, Hispanics and other minority groups, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One in 13 African-American babies are born with the disease, which can affect blood flow to organs or tissues.

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