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Health Highlights: July 3, 2019


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

Fentanyl-Like Drugs Should be Permanently Classified as Controlled Substances: DOJ

A temporary order classifying fentanyl-like drugs as controlled substances should be enacted into law, the U.S. Department of Justice is telling Congress.

The order -- which was enacted in 2018 on an emergency basis and expires in February 2020 -- tightened controls on fentanyl-like drugs, which had skirted federal law because their chemical makeup is slightly different than the opioid fentanyl, which is about 100 times stronger than morphine, CBS News reported.

Fentanyl-like drugs can be even stronger.

"From a policy and regulatory perspective, fentanyl-like substances need to be permanently scheduled as a class," said Katie Crytzer, the acting deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Policy at the Department of Justice, CBS News reported.

The classification is an "urgent and necessary first step," she told reporters Monday.

Of the more than 70,000 drug overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2017, nearly 48,000 were caused by opioids, and about 29,000 by fentanyl or fentanyl-like substances, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, said John Martin, assistant administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, CBS News reported.

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Lawsuit Challenges Mississippi Law on Labeling of Meatless Products

A Mississippi law that bans terms such as "meatless meatballs" and "vegan bacon" on plant-based food labels violates free-speech rights, opponents allege in a federal lawsuit filed Monday.

The law states that "a plant-based or insect-based food product shall not be labeled as meat or a meat food product," the Associated Press reported.

But the lawsuit says the law "serves only to create consumer confusion where none previously existed."

The lawsuit was launched by the Plant Based Foods Association and Illinois-based Upton's Naturals Co., which makes vegan products. They're backed by the free-market advocacy group Institute for Justice, the AP reported.

Last year, a lawsuit was filed against a Missouri law that made it a misdemeanor to label plant-based products as meat. That legal challenge was launched by vegetarian food products maker Tofurky Co. and The Good Food Institute, a nonprofit that advocates for alternatives to meat.

In Louisiana, a law scheduled to take effect in October 2020 forbids vegetable products from being called meat, non-rice products from being called rice and sugar alternatives from being called sugar, the AP reported.

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