U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Health Highlights: March 1, 2016

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

Ivy League Football Teams Eliminate Full-Contact Hits in Practices

All full-contact hits will be eliminated from regular season football practices at Ivy League universities.

The decision was unanimously approved last week by coaches with the eight Ivy League teams and is expected to be adopted as formal policy after being affirmed by the league's athletic directors, policy committee and university presidents, The New York Times reported.

The move -- made in response to growing concerns about concussion and other injuries -- could influence other football programs ranging from youth leagues to the professional level.

The new rule would be added to the Ivy League's current limits on full contact in spring and preseason practices, which are among the most restrictive in collegiate football, The Times reported.

The Ivy League includes Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Pennsylvania, Princeton and Yale.

Researchers have found that limiting full contact during football practices reduces the number of concussions, The Times reported.

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Packaging Leads to Cancer Drugs Going to Waste, Higher Costs: Study

Packaging practices result in nearly $3 billion in cancer drugs going to waste each year in the United States, according to a new study.

It also found that drug makers make about $1.8 billion due to packaging design, and hospitals and doctors make an extra $1 billion on cancer drug markups over the bulk prices they pay, United Press International reported.

One-third or more of some cancer drugs are not used because pre-packaged doses are too large and safety regulations require the excess be thrown away in most cases, researchers at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and the University of Chicago found.

The study was published in the British Medical Journal.

"You have these incredibly expensive drugs, and you can only buy them in bulk," Dr. Leonard Saltz, head of the pharmacy and therapeutics committee at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, told The New York Times, UPI reported.

"What's really interesting is they're selling these drugs in smaller vials in Europe, where regulators are clearly paying attention to this issue," he added.

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Americans to Get Better Access to Electronic Health Records

Measures to make electronic health records easier for Americans to access and use were announced Monday by the White House.

The steps were agreed to and will be implemented by hospital systems, doctors' groups and technology companies, the Associated Press reported.

"Now is the time for this data to be free and liquid and available," Karen DeSalvo, head of the Health and Human Services department office overseeing the switch to electronic medical records, said.

The planned improvements include greater consumer access, no more blocking of health information sharing, and standards for secure, efficient digital communications, the AP reported.

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