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Health Highlights: March 6, 2018

Last Updated: March 06, 2018.

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

UnitedHealthcare Will Share Drug Rebates With Customers

UnitedHealthcare says it will share drug company rebates with its customers.

The company announced Tuesday that the new policy will begin next year and apply to more than seven million customers enrolled in fully insured plans, The New York Times reported.

UnitedHealthcare is one of the largest health insurers in the U.S.

"The benefit could range from a few dollars to hundreds of dollars to over a thousand," according to company president Dan Schumacher, The Times reported.

He said the greatest savings will be among customers with high deductibles who buy drugs that have large rebates.

In response to criticism about high prices for medicines, drug makers have blamed both insurers and pharmacy managers for not sharing drug rebates with customers, The Times reported.

Insurers say they use the drug discounts to lower overall premiums and claim that the real issue is the high cost of a large number of drugs.


FDA Needs More Mail Inspectors to Check for Illegal Drugs From Overseas: Commissioner

More Food and Drug Administration mail inspectors are needed to reduce the flow of deadly opioid drugs such as fentanyl coming into the U.S. through international mail, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb says.

"We're finding an increasing number of opioids coming in through those facilities," and they are often disguised as other drugs and supplements, Gottlieb told the Associated Press.

He wants to more than double the number of packages the FDA inspects for illicit drugs.

Federal government records show that international shipments processed by the U.S. Postal Service nearly doubled over three years, to 275 million in fiscal year 2016 from 150 million in 2013, the AP reported.

Gottlieb said he wants FDA staff to be able to inspect 100,000 packages per year that have been tagged as suspicious by customs agents, up from the current capacity of about 40,000.

To do that, FDA staff would have to more than double from the 23 now at the nine international mail facilities nationwide, according to the agency. The current number is three times higher than last September, when the FDA had just seven full-time staff at international mail centers nationwide, the AP reported.


McDonald's to Offer Quarter Pounders Made With Fresh Beef

Quarter Pounders made with fresh beef will be offered at about 3,500 McDonald's restaurants across the United States, the company says.

The products will first be available in Atlanta, Miami, Salt Lake City and five other cities, and then in most McDonald's nationwide by May, the Associated Press reported.

The company has relied on frozen beef patties since the 1970s.

The move to fresh beef is among a number of changes made by McDonald's in response to a growing number of people wanting to avoid processed foods, the AP reported.


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