Health Highlights: March 31, 2015

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

Ancient Eye Remedy Kills Superbug: Study

A 1,000-year-old treatment for eye infections may offer a way to treat a superbug called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), according to British researchers.

The recipe for the ancient Anglo-Saxon treatment calls for garlic and onion or leek, wine, and bile from a cow's stomach. The ingredients are brewed in a brass vessel, USA Today reported.

The concoction -- called Bald's eye salve -- killed up to 90 percent of MRSA bacteria in the skin wounds of mice, according to the study to be presented Wednesday at at Society for General Microbiology meeting in Birmingham, England.

"We let our artificial 'infections' grow into dense, mature populations called 'biofilms', where the individual cells bunch together and make a sticky coating that makes it hard for antibiotics to reach them," Freya Harrison, a microbiologist at the University of Nottingham, said in a news release, USA Today reported.

"But unlike many modern antibiotics, Bald's eye salve has the power to breach these defenses," she noted.

The team is seeking further funding to continue their research, USA Today reported.


Idaho Wins Medicaid Pay Fight in Supreme Court Case

Health care companies cannot sue to force states to increase their Medicaid reimbursement rates to keep pace with rising medical costs, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.

In the 5-4 decision Tuesday, the justices said medical companies do not have a private right to enforce federal Medicaid funding laws against states if Congress has not created such a right, the Associated Press reported.

The decision came in a lawsuit launched against Idaho in 2009 that claimed the state was unfairly keeping Medicaid reimbursement rates at 2006 levels. Lower courts ruled against Idaho and the increased reimbursements cost the state an extra $12 million in 2013.

In siding with the state, the Supreme Court said only federal agencies that oversee Medicaid can decide if a state is complying with reimbursement rules, the AP reported.


Younger People, Women Most Likely to Use Cellphone While Driving: Study

Women and young people are most likely to talk on a cellphone while driving, a new study finds.

Researchers looked at 1,280 drivers in Texas and found that those younger than 25 were more than four times as likely as older drivers to use a cellphone while behind the wheel, and that women were 63 percent more likely to do so than men, The New York Times reported.

The study in the journal Preventive Medicine Reports also found that lone drivers were more than four times as likely to use a cellphone while driving than drivers with passengers, and that women were more than twice as likely to text while behind the wheel than men.

The study was conducted between 2011 and 2013. During that time, the percentage of drivers using cellphones fell from 20.5 percent to 16.4 percent, but texting while driving increased from 6.4 percent to 8.4 percent, The Times reported.

There are no statewide laws in Texas that ban cellphone use while driving.


Pharmacists Shouldn't Provide Drugs For Executions: Association

A leading U.S. pharmacists group says its members should not provide drugs for use in lethal injections because doing so is contrary to pharmacists' role as health care providers.

The policy was adopted Monday by the American Pharmacists Association at its annual meeting. While the association does not have the legal power to prevent its more than 62,000 members from providing drugs for executions, its policies set ethical standards, the Associated Press reported.

A number of doctors groups have similar policies.

The pharmacists association's new policy places another roadblock in the way of states that want to use lethal injections to execute prisoners. Some are turning to alternative methods, such as the electric chair or firing squad, the AP reported.

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