Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Medicines Tossed in Trash End Up in Water: Study
Unused or expired medications that are thrown in the trash can still end up in drinking water, according to a study by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.
It found minute amounts of discarded drugs in water at three landfills in the state, the Associated Press reported. This landfill water, called leachate, eventually ends up in rivers. Many communities across the United States draw their drinking water from rivers.
Maine lawmakers are currently considering a bill that would force drug makers to create and pay for a program to collect unused prescription and over-the-counter drugs from consumers and dispose of them.
"People need a way to properly dispose of their drugs, and they're not getting it right now," Mark Hyland, director of the state Department of Environmental Quality's Bureau of Remediation and Waste Management, told the AP.
Maine is among more than a half a dozen states considering a "take-back" bill for medications. The Maine bill has won committee support and awaits further action. If enacted, it would be the first of its kind in the United States.
The bill is opposed by the drug industry lobby group, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the AP reported.
U.S. Government to Forbid Unhealthy Foods in Schools
Legislation banning candy and sugary beverages from schools will soon be introduced by the Obama administration.
Any vending machines that remain in schools would have to be "filled with nutritious offerings to make the healthy choice the easy choice for our nation's children," according to an excerpt of a speech to be delivered Monday by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, The New York Times reported.
While the bill would require that all foods offered in schools comply with strict new nutritional guidelines, bake sales, parties and other occasional offerings of sweets would be allowed.
The legislation has the support of the National PTA and a number of health and medical advocacy groups, but some local school officials are lukewarm about this type of federal control.
"Our feeling is that school boards are acutely aware of the importance of ensuring that children have access to healthy and nutritious food," Lucy Gettman, of the National School Boards Association, told The Times.
Obama Invites Republicans to Televised Health Care Meeting
A half-day bipartisan health care session at the White House scheduled for Feb. 25 will be televised, President Obama said Sunday in an interview during a Super Bowl pre-game show.
"I want to come back and have a large meeting, Republicans and Democrats, to go through systematically all the best ideas that are out there and move it forward," Obama said in the CBS interview from the White House Library, The New York Times reported.
The move is an attempt to break a political impasse over health care reform.
The President invited Republicans to bring their ideas on how to lower the cost of health insurance and expand coverage to more than 30 million uninsured people. Republican leaders said they welcomed the opportunity.
White House aides say the meeting is part of a strategy to increase efforts to engage Congressional Republicans in policy negotiations and put their proposals under more scrutiny, The Times reported.
Drug May Help Men With Bent Penis Disorder
The injectable drug Xiaflex may benefit men with Peyronie's disease, a difficult-to-treat condition in which the penis is permanently bent. The disorder, which affects about 1 to 2 percent of men, causes pain and erectile dysfunction, and can make it difficult or impossible to have sexual intercourse.
This week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Xiaflex for treatment of claw hand, a condition that causes bent fingers. Research suggests the drug may also be effective in treating Peyronie's disease. Some experts believe the FDA's approval of the drug for claw hand may lead to off-label use for Peyronie's disease, ABC News reported.
Clinical trials found that injections of Xiaflex resulted in an average 29.7 percent improvement in curvature of the penis, compared with a placebo injection, according to Auxilium Pharmaceuticals, which is marketing the drug.
However, the company says it will discourage any off-label use of Xiaflex for treatment of Peyronie's disease, ABC News reported.
New Rules for School Lunch Program Suppliers
New measures to guarantee the quality and safety of food purchased for the National School Lunch Program were announced Thursday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The agency said it will tighten requirements on suppliers of ground beef, test the beef more often and more thoroughly, and improve communications within the USDA to "identify potential food safety issues" before children become ill from eating bad food, USA Today reported.
In addition, the USDA said it will be more thorough in reviewing the safety records of companies that supply food for school lunches and exclude those that have had repeated problems with their commercial food products.
The new rules are "a big deal," because they'll force companies to "play to a higher standard," food safety consultant David Theno told USA Today.