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Health Highlights: Dec. 5, 2019

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

New Results for Experimental Alzheimer's Drug

New study results about an experimental drug its maker claims can slow mental decline in Alzheimer's disease patients were released Thursday.

Studies on aducanumab were halted earlier this year because the drug didn't appear to be effective. But the new results suggest it's effective at a high dose, the Associated Press reported.

The findings were presented at an Alzheimer's conference in San Diego.

However, some experts say that changes during the study and unusual analyses make the results difficult to interpret and the risks and benefits of the drug unclear, the AP reported.

"I don't see how you can conclude anything other than that another trial needs to be done," said Dr. David Knopman of the Mayo Clinic, who is a member of an FDA panel likely to review the drug.

He's not likely to participate in such a review because he was involved in one of the studies, the AP reported.

Aducanumab -- being developed by U.S. company Biogen and Japanese company Eisai -- is designed to clear harmful plaques, or protein clumps, from the brain.


New Rule Means 700,000 People Will Lose Food Stamps

Nearly 700,000 people will lose access to food stamps under a new Trump administration rule that tightens enforcement of federal work requirements.

The rule -- given final approval on Wednesday -- requires states to enforce work requirements for able-bodied adults without children that governors have been permitted to waive, especially for regions with struggling economies, The New York Times reported.

The rule was proposed by the Department of Agriculture and approved, despite tens of thousands of protest letters.

The department says the economy has improved and unemployed, able-bodied adults no longer require assistance in a strong job market, The Times reported.


Drug Reduces Delusions in Dementia Patients

A drug used to reduce delusions in Parkinson's disease patients does the same for patients with Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia, a new study shows.

Pimavanserin (Nuplazid) was approved in the United States for Parkinson's-related psychosis in 2016. It blocks a brain chemical that triggers delusions, the Associated Press reported.

The new study involving Alzheimer's patients was stopped early due to positive results. The findings were presented Wednesday at a conference in San Diego.

The drug eases hallucinations that can cause anxiety, aggression and physical and verbal abuse.

If U.S. regulators approve it, the drug would the first treatment specifically for dementia-related psychosis and the first new Alzheimer's medicine for in nearly two decades, the AP reported.

Research suggests that up to 30% of the 8 million Americans with dementia develop psychosis.

"This would be a very important advance," Dr. Howard Fillit, chief science officer of the Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation, told the AP.


Seven Deaths in San Diego County From Infections Linked to Black Tar Heroin Injections

Infections linked to injections of black tar heroin have killed seven people in San Diego County in the past two months, health officials said Wednesday.

Nine people, aged 19 to 57, were admitted to area hospitals with "severe myonecrosis" bacterial infections after injecting the drug Oct. 2 and Nov. 24, according to a county health department statement, NBC News reported.

Myonecrosis destroys muscle, health officials said.

Doctors and other medical professionals should watch for more cases of soft tissue infections, the health department advised, NBC News reported.

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