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Health Highlights: Nov. 15, 2018

Last Updated: November 15, 2018.

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

Allergen Fears Spur Tortilla Chip Recall by Whole Foods

Tortilla chips that may contain undeclared milk have been recalled by Whole Foods Market.

People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to milk could suffer a serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume the tortilla chips, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said.

The recall is for 365 Everyday Value White Corn Tortilla Chips Salted-Party Size sold across the U.S. and in Canada. The chips are in 20 oz. bags with UPC code 9948247145 and best-by dates between January 24-25, 2019, printed on the front top of the packaging.

No allergic reactions associated with the recalled tortilla chips have been reported, according to the FDA.

The product has been removed from Whole Foods Market shelves. Consumers who bought the tortilla chips can return them for a full refund. For more information, call 1-844-936-8255.

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Newer Nonstick Coating May Pose Health Threat: EPA

A chemical compound used to make newer nonstick coatings could be dangerous, according to draft findings from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

It said that animal studies show the so-called GenX nonstick compound could affect the kidneys, blood, immune system, liver and developing fetuses following oral exposure, the Associated Press reported.

"The data are suggestive of cancer," the draft document said.

GenX is a newer, supposedly safer version of older versions of stick- and stain-resistant compounds that are being found at dangerous levels in drinking water supplies nationwide, the AP reported.

The EPA's findings suggest that chronic exposure to GenX is dangerous at levels as low as a few hundred parts per trillion, according to Lee Ferguson, an environmental analytical chemist and associate professor at Duke University.

This would mean "the compounds that we're replacing toxic compounds for are also toxic," Ferguson told the AP.

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Name-Brand Meds Driving Spike in U.S. Drug Spending

Rising drug spending in the United States is being fueled by expensive name-brand prescription medicines, a new study shows.

"Total prescription drug spending increased 10 percent annually since 2010," and 82 percent of prescriptions were for cheaper, generic drugs, according to the Blue Cross Blue Shield study, NBC News reported.

But the study also found that expensive "branded prescription drugs accounted for only 17 percent of total prescriptions filled, but 79 percent of total prescription drug spending [$79.5 billion]."

"More expensive branded prescription drug spending is up 4 percent since 2016," and costs "for single-source drugs with no generic alternatives increased at more than double the rate of average annual drug spending," the study found.

The biggest costs were from three rheumatoid arthritis drugs -- Humira, Remicade and Enbrel -- a quick-acting insulin called Novolog, and Neulasta, an immune system-strengthening treatment for cancer patients, NBC News reported.

Rising drug prices are a major concern among patients and policy makers.


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