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Inconsistent drug safety warnings, new plain-packaging rules, and the risks of eating your placenta, in this week’s top health news.

Health News Recap

  • New plain-packaging rules for tobacco will take effect in November. The rules require cigarette packs to be a standard size, shape and drab-brown colour, with standardized layouts and lettering to increase the impact of graphic health warnings.
  • Doctors who are outspoken about the importance of vaccination on social media report escalating threats from anti-vaccination groups. Two physicians have received more than 200 emails since last fall, as well as threatening voicemails.
  • Health Canada issued drug safety warnings in only 50% of cases flagged by authorities in the United States, Australia and United Kingdom, according to a University of British Columbia study. All four countries issued warnings about the same medication just 10% of the time.
  • The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada cautioned that there is no evidence to support consuming human placenta and it may cause harm, despite the popularity of the practice among some new mothers. New research from the University of British Columbia also found no difference in the mental health outcomes of mothers who had eaten their placenta versus those who had not.
  • Thousands of people, including many health professionals, rallied outside Ontario’s legislature to protest changes to the province’s health system. The government has proposed merging local health integration networks into a single super agency, cuts to public health funding and merging ambulance services.
  • The Collège des médecins du Québec said nurse practitioners should be allowed to establish their own guidelines and regulations but advised against changes to the province’s medical act. The provincial government will table a bill this fall to give nurse practitioners more autonomy to work without physician supervision.
  • New Brunswick declared a gonorrhea outbreak after 20 cases were reported in the first quarter of the year, up from an average of 12 in previous years. The chief medical officer of health blamed dating apps that enable anonymous sex while making it difficult to track infections.
  • Mayors from 28 major municipalities across Ontario urged the provincial government to pause public health funding cuts until 2020 pending consultation. Programs previously funded 75%–100% by the province will see their budgets cut by up to 70% in 2019 and 2020.
  • About 400 nurses and supporters urged Manitoba’s government to stop the consolidation of its health system in a rally outside the provincial legislature. The province’s government says the change is necessary to reduce wait times and find efficiencies.
  • An emergency room visit from a patient with measles caused trouble for a Halifax hospital; staff had to be tested for immunity before they could return to work and at least one physician is barred from working for two weeks. Health authorities noted that calls about the measles vaccine doubled after the incident.

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