Health Highlights: April 21, 2017
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Cherokee Nation Sues Drug Distributors, Retailers Over Opioid Crisis
Six of the top drug distributors and pharmacies in the United States inundated the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma with hundreds of millions of highly addictive opioid pain pills, according to a lawsuit filed in tribal court.
It alleges the companies violated sovereign Cherokee laws by failing to prevent prescription pain pills such as oxycodone and hydrocodone from ending up on the black market, profiting from the situation, and damaging communities, the Washington Post reported.
"Defendants turned a blind eye to the problem of opioid diversion and profited from the sale of prescription opioids to the citizens of the Cherokee Nation in quantities that far exceeded the number of prescriptions that could reasonably have been used for legitimate medical purposes," according to the lawsuit.
Named in the suit are the three largest drug distributors in the U.S.: McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen. Together, they control about 85 percent of prescription drug distribution nationwide. The suit also names major players in the retail drug business, including CVS, Walgreens and Walmart, the Post reported.
Lawyers for the Cherokee Nation said that by filing the suit in tribal court, they hope to get quicker access to internal corporate records that could reveal what the companies knew about the diversion of pain pills across the nation's 14 counties in northeastern Oklahoma.
This is the first lawsuit filed by an Indian nation against companies for harm done by prescription pain pills, the Post reported.
The U.S. is struggling with a nationwide prescription opioid abuse epidemic that has caused nearly 180,000 deaths since 2000.
West Virginia has the highest prescription drug overdose rate in the nation, and seven counties in the state last month filed suits against many of the same corporations named in the Cherokee Nation lawsuit, the Post reported.
Those suits seek billions of dollars in damages and allege the companies created a public threat by sending large amounts of prescription drugs into the state.
No Change in George H.W. Bush's Condition
There is no change in the condition of former U.S. President George H.W. Bush and he will remain in a Houston hospital at least until Friday, a spokesman told CBS News on Thursday.
Bush is recovering from a mild case of pneumonia. It's the second time this year he has been admitted to the hospital for pneumonia.
The elder Bush received a visit from son and former President George W. Bush and other family members.
The younger former president posted a photo with the caption: "Big morale boost from a high level delegation. No father has ever been more blessed, or prouder," CBS News reported.
New Mosquito Control Approach Field Tested in Florida
Officials released thousands of experimental mosquitoes in the Florida Keys this week in an effort to reduce the spread of Zika virus, Dengue fever and Chikungunya.
The 20,000 male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes were released on Stock Island Tuesday for a 12-week field test. The male mosquitoes, which don't bite, were infected with a naturally occurring bacteria called Wolbachia, CNN reported.
When the infected male mosquitoes mate with females, the eggs they females produce won't hatch, according to the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District. The goal is to reduce or eliminate the population of female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes and the viruses they spread, including Zika virus.
"A successful trial with the Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes could mean the availability of a new tool in the fight against the Aedes aegypti mosquito for not only our District, but for Mosquito Control Districts around the country," said Andrea Leal, executive director for the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District, CNN reported.
The Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes will be released twice a week at 20 different spots in the designated area during the field test.
Banquet Chicken Nuggets with Mac & Cheese Recalled
Possible salmonella contamination has led to the recall of a brownie mix dessert included in frozen breaded chicken nugget meal trays produced by Conagra Brands, Inc., the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) says.
The recall is for 7.4 oz. vacuum-packed trays containing "Banquet Chicken Nuggets with Mac & Cheese" with Code 3100080921 and a "best if used by" date of July 20, 2018. The FSIS establishment number "P-9" is printed on the side of the box.
The 110,817 pounds of recalled frozen meals were shipped to stores nationwide. No confirmed cases of illness linked with the recalled products have been reported, according to FSIS.
For more information, consumers can call Conagra Brands Consumer Affairs at 1-800-289-6014.
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