Health Highlights: Feb. 16, 2017
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
U.S. Health Care Spending Will Keep Rising: Report
Health care spending in the United States will continue to rise no matter what the federal government does with the Affordable Care Act, according to a report released Wednesday by nonpartisan experts at Health and Human Services.
They predicted that health care spending will increase an average for 5.6 percent a year from 2016 to 2025 and outpace projected economic growth, the Associated Press reported.
The current national health care tab of $3.5 trillion will rise to nearly $5.5 trillion in 2025 and account for about one-fifth of the economy, making it more difficult to fund other areas such as infrastructure.
The HHS experts said factors driving increased health care spending include an aging population and rising prices for health services and treatments, the AP reported.
China to Tighten Controls on Dangerous Drugs
The elephant tranquilizer carfentanil and three related synthetic opioids will be added to China's list of controlled substances, officials say.
The move by the country's National Narcotics Control Commission will take effect March 1 and tighten worldwide control of carfentanil, a substance so deadly it has been used as a chemical weapon and labeled a terrorist threat, the Associated Press reported.
The regulatory action may be a "game-changer" that could slash supplies of chemicals linked to rising numbers of overdoses and deaths among drug users in North America, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
When China placed tighter controls on 116 synthetic drugs in late 2015, there was a sharp drop in seizures of those compounds in the U.S., the AP reported.
China is a significant source of opioids such as carfentanil, which appeared in North American street drugs last summer. Dealers add the substances to heroin and other drugs in order to increase their profits.
The new Chinese policy is a "substantial step in the fight against opioids here in the United States," Russell Baer, a DEA special agent in Washington, told the AP. "We're persuaded it will have a definite impact."
U.S. officials had urged China to make carfentanil a controlled substance, and last fall China began to evaluate whether to do so, despite saying there is no evidence to U.S. assertions that China is the leading source of fentanyls.
Last October, the AP found 12 Chinese companies that said they would export carfentanil worldwide for a few thousand dollars a kilogram (2.2. pounds) and ask no questions.
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