News for Healthier Living

Health Highlights: Jan. 29, 2019

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

Large Insulin Price Hike to Be Investigated by U.S. Congress

The soaring cost of insulin will be investigated as the U.S. Congress holds hearings into the high cost of prescription drugs, a lawmaker says.

"I have heard stories about people reducing their life-saving medicines, like insulin, to save money," said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, the Associated Press reported.

"This is unacceptable and I intend to specifically get to the bottom of the insulin price increase," Grassley said.

The American Medical Association says insulin prices rose nearly 200 percent between 2002 and 2013 and has called on the government the huge increase, the AP reported.

Currently, there is no effective generic alternative to brand-name insulin costing hundreds of dollars a month.

The insulin market is dominated by a few companies, including Novo Nordisk, Sanofi and Eli Lilly, the AP reported.

The House Oversight and Reform Committee is holding its own hearings into drug industry pricing practices, and requests for detailed information have been sent to 12 major manufacturers.

Research suggests that price spikes of a few years ago have eased, according to the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, and the drug industry says government price regulation will stifle innovation and deprive patients of timely access to new medications, the AP reported.

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Prepared Foods With Baby Spinach Recalled by Whole Food Markets

Prepared foods such as salads, pizza, sandwiches and wraps that contain baby spinach have been recalled in eight states by Whole Food Markets due to possible salmonella contamination.

The products were sold at stores in Connecticut, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island, and can be returned for a full refund. To date, no illnesses have been reported, according to the company.

It also said that consumers who bought items containing baby spinach from salad bars or hot bars at Whole Foods Markets in these states should throw away any such items bought up to Jan. 23, 2019.

The Whole Food Market recall is in response to a recall by Satur Farms. For more information, consumers can call 1-844-936-8255.

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Thrive Market Recalls Nut Butters

All unexpired lots of Thrive Market-branded nut butters are being recalled due to possible listeria contamination.

"On January 21, 2019, one of our suppliers notified us that it was issuing a recall of all nut butters it has manufactured since January 2018 because of a positive test for Listeria monocytogenes in recent lots," the company said in a news release.

The recalled Thrive Market-branded nut butters were distributed across the United States. A list of the recalled nut butters can be found on the company's recall website. Anyone with the products should through them away.

Listeria monocytogenes can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in pregnant women, young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems.

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Antibiotic-Resistance Genes From India Found in Arctic: Study

Genes first detected in India just a few years ago were among 131 genes associated with antibiotic resistance in bacteria that were discovered in a remote location in the High Arctic, researchers say.

The genes were found in soil samples taken from the Kongsfjorden region. All of the soil samples contained antibiotic-resistance genes, but no antibiotic resistant bacteria were found, according to the study published Monday in the journal Environment International, CNN reported.

One set of genes, blaNDM-1, give bacteria resistance to multiple antibiotics, including a last-resort class called Carbapenems, which are used to treat severe infections.

First discovered in a patient in India in 2008, the blaNDM-1 genes were present in surface waters in Delhi by 2010. Five out of the eight Arctic soil samples contained blaNDM-1.

"Less than three years after the first detection of the blaNDM-1 gene in the surface waters of urban India we are finding them thousands of miles away in an area where there has been minimal human impact," lead researcher David Graham, professor of ecosystems engineering, Newcastle University, U.K., told CNN.

The only way any of the antibiotic-resistance genes "could have got there is either though traveling wildlife or through traveling humans," Graham said.

Antibiotic resistance is a growing threat and drug-resistant bacteria are expected to kill 10 million people a year by 2050. Scientists believe that about 70 percent of infection-causing bacteria are already resistant to at least one antibiotic used to fight them, CNN reported.

January 29, 2019
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