Health Highlights: Jan. 16, 2018

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

FDA Takes More Measures to Ease IV Bag Shortage

As the nationwide shortage of filled intravenous bags continues, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday it has taken additional steps to deal with the problem.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said that while the agency continues to address production shortages prompted by a severe flu season, it is also asking IV bag makers to offer data on whether the expiration dates on bags already in hospitals might safely be extended. The agency is also monitoring the recent practice of filling new, but empty, IV bags with fluids to deal with the shortage.

"These empty containers are regulated by the FDA . . .," Gottlieb said in a statement. "We understand that, with the shortage of filled bags, hospitals and other health care providers are turning to the repackaging or compounding of IV saline fluids and utilizing empty IV containers. This is resulting in diminished supplies of these containers and concerns that supplies of empty bags could tighten further," he added.

"We've been in direct communication with manufacturers, distributors, hospitals and other health care providers, including the Department of Veterans Affairs, about this issue," he noted. "However, in the meantime, we want to see what steps we can take to ensure that shortages of these empty containers do not occur, given their clinical importance and their utility as an alternative to filled bags."

Two factors have contributed to the short supply of filled IV bags, which deliver fluids and medicines to dehydrated patients. First, the United States has been hit hard by an unusually severe flu season. Second, there have been production delays at factories that produce the bags in Puerto Rico, which is still dealing with power problems caused by Hurricane Maria in mid-September.

"The dynamics of all shortages are challenging. This situation is no different," Gottlieb explained. "We recognize that these challenges have created hardships and, in some cases, have had an impact on patients. We're deeply concerned by this situation. Resolving it remains one of my highest priorities. We're actively monitoring the situation and taking actions to address this shortage."


Jane Fonda Has Cancerous Growth Removed From Lip

Actress Jane Fonda has had bandages on her face this week because she had a cancerous growth removed from lower lip, she said Monday.

"I just want to explain the bandage," she said during a BUILD Series interview, NBC News reported.

"I just had a cancer taken from my lip. I thought it was going to heal in time before I came before you, but it's fine. I just want to explain it. I don't normally go around like this," Fonda said.

The 80-year-old downplayed the situation and noted that she received a clean bill of health, NBC News reported.

"Well, the world is falling apart, what's a lip?" she said, and later added, "Yeah, they did (biopsy it.) I'm going to be fine, thanks."


Doctor Will Brief Reporters on Trump's First Physical Exam

In a press briefing Tuesday, presidential physician Dr. Ronny Jackson is expected to provide more information about Donald Trump's first physical exam.

Soon after the check-up as completed on Friday, Jackson said Trump, 71, is "in excellent health," ABC News reported.

The doctor said some details of the exam's findings will be offered when he takes reporters questions directly at Tuesday's daily briefing.

Doing so "is not unprecedented. It is also not considered routine," according to former ABC News correspondent Ann Compton, who covered the White House from President Gerald Ford through President Barack Obama.

After the press briefing, a "written readout similar to those past" will be released, said White House press secretary Sarah Sanders.


Alert Issued Over Measles Patient at O'Hare Airport

A measles alert was issued Monday for people who were at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport on Jan. 10.

Sometime between 6:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. that day, "a passenger on an international flight with a confirmed case of measles arrived in Terminal 5" and later "departed on a domestic flight from Terminal 1," according to an Illinois Department of Public Health statement, ABC News reported.

The passenger "was infectious that day" and "may have traveled to other parts of the airport," the statement said.

The agency said people who may have been infected by the passenger may not develop measles symptoms until as late as Jan. 31. Details about which flights or airlines the measles-infected passenger may have been on were not released, ABC News reported.

"Those who were considered most at risk are being contacted directly by health officials," a state public health spokesperson told ABC News.

Other people concerned about possible measles infection should "call a health care provider before going to a medical office or emergency department," the agency advised.

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