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Health Highlights: July 23, 2019

Last Updated: July 23, 2019.

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

Senate Bill Would Reduce Seniors Drug Costs

A bill to reduce prescription drug costs for millions of Medicare recipients and lower federal and state health costs was introduced by two U.S. senators.

The bill would limit drug copays for people with Medicare's Part D prescription plan by capping their out-of-pocket costs at $3,100 a year starting in 2022, the Associated Press reported.

Under the bill, drug makers would have to pay Medicare a price hike penalty if the cost of their medications rise faster than inflation.

The bill was introduced by Iowa Republican Charles Grassley and Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden. They said Congressional Budget Office preliminary estimates suggest that over 10 years, the bill would save Medicare $85 billion, save seniors $27 billion in out-of-pocket costs and $5 billion from slightly lower premiums, and save the government $15 billion from projected Medicaid costs, the AP reported.

A Finance Committee vote on the bill is scheduled for Thursday. The committee oversees Medicare and Medicaid. Grassley is the chairman and Wyden is the senior Democrat.

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Generic Versions of Lyrica Approved by FDA

The first generic versions of the nerve pain drug Lyrica have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The agency said Monday that it approved nine generic versions of Pfizer Inc.'s Lyrica, which is also used to treat seizures and fibromyalgia, a condition that causes chronic, widespread pain, the Associated Press reported.

Lyrica, approved by the FDA in 2004, costs between $460 to $720 a month without insurance.

The prices of the new generic versions vary from about $140 to $370 per month, according to the drug price comparison site GoodRx, the AP reported.

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Boys Starting Puberty Earlier: Study

Like girls, boys are starting puberty earlier, and increasing body mass index (BMI) may be a factor, a new study says.

Researchers analyzed data on nearly 4,100 boys born in Sweden between 1947 and 1996 and found that those born later in the study period hit puberty at a younger age, CNN reported.

For every decade born later, boys reached puberty 1.5 months earlier, dropping from about age 14.2 in 1947 to 13.7 in 1996, according to the study in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

Increases in childhood BMI (an estimate of body fat based on weight and height) were related to earlier puberty in boys, the study found.

However, even after adjusting for BMI, the researchers found that the age of puberty was 1.2 months earlier for every decade born later, CNN reported.

Other factors that could explain earlier puberty in boys include nutrition, socioeconomic influences or exposure to chemicals that disrupt hormones, according to the researchers.

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Ragu Pasta Sauces Recalled Due to Plastic Bits

Certain Ragu pasta sauces in the United States have been recalled because they may contain plastic fragments, Mizkan America, Inc. says.

Consumers with the recalled jars of pasta sauce should throw them away. No injuries linked to the recalled products have been reported, according to the company.

The recall includes: Ragu Chunky Tomato Garlic & Onion, 45 oz., cap code/best use by date JUN0620YU2; Ragu Chunky Tomato Garlic & Onion, 66 oz., cap code/best use by date JUN0520YU2; Ragu Chunky Tomato Garlic & Onion, 66 oz., cap code/best use by date JUN0620YU2; Ragu Old World Style Traditional, 66 oz., cap code/best use by date JUN0420YU2; Ragu Old World Style Meat, 66 oz., cap code/best use by date JUN0520YU2.

Retailers have been notified of the recall, according to Mizkan. Consumers who bought the recalled sauces can receive a replacement by calling the company at 800-328-7248.


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