Health Highlights: Oct. 16, 2019

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

Three Opioid Distributors in Talks for $18 Billion Settlement

A settlement of $18 billion over 18 years is on the table in talks between the United States' three largest opioid distributors and plaintiffs who've filed more than 2,000 lawsuits against the companies, insiders say.

The talks involving the drug companies McKesson, Cardinal Health and Amerisource Bergen Corp. are being held just before the first "bellwether" trial against opioid manufacturers, distributors and retail pharmacies is set to begin next week in Ohio, NBC News reported Wednesday.

People familiar with the negotiations say the companies were becoming increasingly concerned with the approach of the trial.

The lawsuits filed by states, cities, counties and tribes allege that 10 companies started and sustained the nation's opioid crisis and seek billions in damages, NBC News reported.

Opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma was also named in lawsuits, but filed for bankruptcy in September.

The U.S. opioid epidemic has claimed more than 400,000 lives and cost the nation more than $504 billion, according to 2017 report by the White House Council of Economic Advisers, NBC News reported.


Metal Pieces Found in Taco Bell Beef

About 2.3 million pounds of seasoned beef taco and burrito filling was removed from Taco Bell outlets in 21 states after metal pieces were found in the beef, the company said Tuesday.

The problem came to the attention of federal regulators on Saturday, after three consumers complained about metal pieces in Taco Bell beef, NBC News reported.

The beef was produced by Kenosha Beef in Columbus, Ohio, between Sept. 20 and Oct. 4 and distributed to Taco Bell restaurants in 21 states across the eastern Midwest, northern Southeast and Northeast regions, according to Taco Bell.

There were reports that Taco Bell restaurants in some states were suggesting chicken or steak to customers as a beef substitute before the recall was publicly announced, which led to criticism by some people on social media, according to NBC News.


Climate Change Raises Risk of Ebola Spread

Climate change could help Ebola spread farther and affect areas previously free of the deadly virus, including the United States, researchers warn.

They concluded that by 2070, the climate crisis will result in a 1.75 to 3.2-fold increase in the rate that Ebola moves from animals to humans, CNN reported.

There will be a greater risk of outbreaks in areas of Africa that haven't had outbreaks before, while outbreaks in previously affected areas would occur more often and spread farther, via air travel, to previously unaffected areas.

That includes a high risk of the disease spreading to China, Russia, India, Europe and the United States, CNN reported.

The study was published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications.

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