Health Highlights: June 7, 2017

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

Dr. Francis Collins to Remain as NIH Director

Dr. Francis Collins will continue as director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the White House says.

Collins is a physician-geneticist who has served as NIH director since 2009.

Before that, he led the international Human Genome Project, which mapped all the genes of the human genome, and was director of the U.S. National Human Genome Research Institute at NIH from 1993-2008.

Collins was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in November 2007 and received the National Medal of Science in 2009.


Anthem Leaving Ohio Health Insurance Exchange

Anthem will stop offering policies in the Ohio health insurance marketplace next year, the company announced Tuesday.

The move would leave about 10,500 people in the state without an insurance carrier. Anthem also operates for-profit Blue Cross plans in more than a dozen other states, but the company said it had not yet made a decision about its participation in those exchanges, The New York Times reported.

The announcement by one of the nation’s largest insurers was used by Republicans to claim that markets are “collapsing” under the Affordable Care Act.

But Democrats said the Trump administration and congressional Republicans are to blame, The Times reported.

“They own this health care system now,” Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio said. “Because they fiddled for the last five months and injected more uncertainty into the insurance market, premiums have gone up and insurance companies have pulled out.”


Unknown Street Drug Linked to Four Deaths in Georgia

Overdoses from an unknown street drug have caused at least four deaths and harmed dozens in the central part of Georgia, according to state officials.

They said it’s the largest cluster of opioid overdoses in the state’s history, CBS News reported.

At least seven of the overdose patients are on ventilators, one state health official said.

Authorities are awaiting test results to confirm the cause of the outbreak, but officials said a number of patients told medical staff that they became ill after consuming yellow pills bought on the street, CBS News reported.

“This is something we have been fearing would happen over a period of time,” said Dr. Patrick O’Neal, director of health protection for the state Department of Public Health. “This is a national issue.”

The street drug, being sold as the pain medication Percocet, can cause loss of consciousness and severe respiratory failure, said Chris Hendry, chief medical officer at Navicent Health in Macon, CBS News reported.

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