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Health Highlights: Sept. 18, 2018

U.S. Senate Passes Opioids Bill Coca-Cola Eyes Cannabis Oil Market

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

U.S. Senate Passes Opioids Bill

The Senate on Monday passed on a 99-1 vote legislation aimed at curbing the nation's ongoing opioid addiction crisis.

The comprehensive bipartisan package earmarks billions of dollars to prevent cross-border opioid trafficking, create comprehensive recovery centers, and fund research into helping children exposed to opioid abuse, the CBS News reported.

Five different committees submitted more than 70 proposals to help craft the bill, called the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018. The bill authorizes $7.9 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Health and Human Services, and other agencies.

Senator Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., authored the bill. Ahead of Monday's vote, he labeled the epidemic of opioid addiction "our most serious health crisis."

The bill includes the Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention Act (STOP), which requires the U.S. Postal Service to do more to prevent illegal drugs such as fentanyl from entering the United States via the mail. The bill also mandates that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration design new packaging for opioids in limited quantities -- for example, a three- or seven-day supply in plastic blister packs.

Ten million dollars in grant money will also be given to qualified applicants to open addiction recovery centers, CBS said.

The House passed its own version of the bill in June, and the Senate and House are expected to iron out any differences between the two bills by Friday, so that a bill can be presented to President Donald Trump for signature by early October.


Coca-Cola Eyes Cannabis Oil Market

Could your can of Coke one day come infused with cannabis oil?

It's a distinct possibility, following reports that the beverage giant is talking with a Canadian cannabis company about creating a wellness drink that would contain cannabidiol (CBD). The oil is the part of marijuana that does not produce a high, but it is believed to have anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties.

Marijuana will become legal across all of Canada on Oct. 17, and cannabis companies have flocked to that country recently to raise money and start businesses there, according to the Associated Press.

While Coca-Cola Co. would not confirm the report, it did say it is eyeing that potentially new segment of the drink market, the AP reported.

"Along with many others in the beverage industry, we are closely watching the growth of non-psychoactive CBD as an ingredient in functional wellness beverages around the world. The space is evolving quickly," Coke spokesman Kent Landerstold the wire service.

Coke's interest signals the growing acceptance of cannabis by established companies, and of the importance of Canada to the development of those businesses, the wire service said.

Constellation Brands, a giant spirits company that makes Corona beer, recently bought a multibillion-dollar minority stake in Canopy Growth, a Canadian medical marijuana producer, the AP.

Consumer News