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Health Highlights: Dec. 11, 2013

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

Female Libido Drug Maker Appealing FDA Decision

It's not clear whether the benefits of a drug meant to increase sexual desire in women outweigh the risks, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says.

The agency considers the effectiveness of Sprout Pharmaceuticals' drug flibanserin to be "modest," while side effects include fatigue, dizziness and nausea, the Associated Press reported.

The daily pill was developed to boost libido in women by targeting brain chemicals linked to mood and appetite.

An October letter from the FDA to Sprout denied approval of the drug and requested more information. The company is appealing the decision, but it appears to have a low chance of success. Only 3 of 17 appeals considered last year by the FDA were successful, the AP reported.

So far, all attempts to develop a drug to increase women's sexual desire have been unsuccessful.

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Colorado Co. Recalls 90,000 Lbs of Meat, Poultry Products

A Colorado company is recalling about 90,000 pounds of meat and poultry products that were produced under unsanitary conditions, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says.

Federal inspectors found rodent activity in the production, storage and retail areas of the facility owned by Yauk's Speciality Meats of Windsor. The recalled products were sold in Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming, NBC News reported.

The recalled products include: "Colorado Best Beef" brand of various fresh, smoked and shelf-stable meat products; "James Ranch" brand jerky and summer sausage; "Rocky Plains Meats" brand hams, bacon, raw and smoked sausage, jerky and raw poultry; "John Long Farms" brand fresh and smoked pork products; "Horned Beef" brand jerky; and "Mile High Hungarian Sausage" brand fresh and smoked bacon and sausage.

The recalled products were produced between April 1, 2013, and Dec. 5, 2013 and are in packages with the establishment number "Est. 20309" or "P-20309" inside the USDA Mark of Inspection. No illnesses have been reported, NBC News reported.

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Gynecology Board Decision Causes Problems for Men With Pelvic Pain

Many American men can't find treatment for pelvic pain after the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology told its members they could not treat men for the problem.

On Sept. 12, the board posted on its website a statement outlining what its members were permitted to do. The rules said that, except for a few conditions, gynecologists could not treat men. Pelvic pain was not one of the exceptions, The New York Times reported.

There are a number of nerve and muscle problems that can cause pelvic pain in both women and men. However, such problems are more common in women and gynecologists typically have the most skill in treating this type of pain, experts say.

But the gynecology board feels that other types of doctors can treat pelvic pain in men, board spokesman David Margulies told The Times.

The board refused an International Pelvic Pain Society request that gynecologists be permitted to continue treating men for pelvic pain.

"Gynecologists with the appropriate skills, experience and knowledge who choose to participate in the care of men with chronic pelvic pain should not be at risk of losing their board certification, solely because they participate in the care of patients who have a real need, suffer tremendously and have limited options for treatment," the society said in an email, The Times reported.

Last month, the gynecology board changed its stance about another group of male patients and said that gynecologists could screen and test men who are at high risk for anal cancer.

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Couric Apologizes for HPV Segment on Talk Show

Talk show host Katie Couric apologized Tuesday for an HPV segment on her program last week that was widely criticized, including accusations of irresponsibility and scaremongering.

Writing in the Huffington Post, Couric said that some of the criticism that the show was "too anti-vaccine and anti-science" was valid, USA Today reported.

"We simply spent too much time on the serious adverse events that have been reported in very rare cases following the vaccine. More emphasis should have been given to the safety and efficacy of the HPV vaccines. As someone who has spent the last 15 years relaying important medical information with the goal of improving public health, it is critical to me that people know the facts," Couric wrote.

She noted that some people have concerns about vaccine in general and that this is an emotional issue, USA Today reported.

"But based on the science, my personal view is that the benefits of the HPV vaccine far outweigh its risks," Couric wrote. "That is why, as I said on my show, I had my own two daughters vaccinated against HPV. I hope that other parents will look at the research and the facts, and make a reasoned decision on the HPV vaccine and what is best for their children."

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Aspartame in Diet Sodas is Safe, Report Says

It's safe to consume the artificial sweetener aspartame at levels currently used in diet sodas, according to the European Food Safety Authority.

The agency's conclusion, announced Tuesday after a major review of evidence, ruled out any "potential risk of aspartame causing damage to genes and inducing cancer," the Associated Press reported.

Aspartame, also known under the brand name NutraSweet, is the sweetener used in Diet Coke. Sales of the drink declined after other studies showed that aspartame might be a health threat.

Coca Cola Co. recently launched an advertising campaign to ease consumers' fears about Diet Coke, the AP reported.

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States' Spending on Antismoking Programs Decreasing: Report

Only a small portion of money from tobacco taxes and settlements with tobacco companies is being used by states for antismoking programs, according to a report by an coalition of advocacy groups.

They said that in 2014, states would earn about $25 billion in this type of revenue but are expected to spend only $481 million on programs to prevent or reduce tobacco use. That's far below the $3.7 billion recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The New York Times reported.

In 2002, states spent $750 million on anti-smoking efforts.

Next year, only Alaska and North Dakota are set to meet the CDC recommendations for tobacco prevention spending, according to the report from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and four other anti-smoking groups.

"I would call it horrible health policy and horrible fiscal policy," Danny McGoldrick, vice president for research at the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, told The Times "They are passing up an opportunity to save lives, save suffering and save health care dollars for the state."


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