Trending News Today: CVS, Aetna Merger Expected to Close

Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.

FDA officials announced on Tuesday that the agency had found high levels of heavy metals such as lead and nickel in some kratom products, Reuters reported. According to the article, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, said that levels of metal in kratom-based products would not likely result in poisoning based on single use, but could cause problems if used persistently. The FDA is contacting the companies marketing these products to inform them of the metal testing results, the article reported.

CVS and Aetna’s $69 billion merger is expected to close imminently after New York signed off on the deal, The Hill reported. According to the article, the deal was cleared by the Department of Justice in October and New York was the last state regulatory approval that the companies needed. CVS and Aetna agreed to include enhanced consumer and health insurance rate protections, privacy controls, cybersecurity compliance, and a $40 million commitment to support health insurance education and enrollment, the article reported.

A recent study found that telemedicine is increasing in the United States, although most Americans still receive care from their health care providers in person, Reuters reported. According to the article, the researchers examined private health insurance claims data from 2005 to 2017 to determine whether “parity” laws have increased use of telemedicine. Overall, annual telemedicine visits increased from 206 visits in 2005 to more than 202,000 visits in 2017, with 83% of telemedicine users from 2015 to 2017 living in rural areas, the article reported.