News roundup: LSU’s Pennington gets $6.7 million to study health of troops … Downtown landmark has a new look … Health insurers exacerbating opioid epidemic

Healthy troops: The U.S. Department of Defense awarded $6.7 million to LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center to study nutrition, metabolism and human physiology as part of an effort to make U.S. troops healthier. The project—named CROWN III—aims to make military members healthy, fit and more resilient to the “stressors of duty,” Pennington says. LSU’s health research arm has collaborated with the DOD for nearly 30 years to provide nutritional information to the U.S. military, and the new project aims to help “warfighters” function better under the stress of battle.

Throwing shade: Downtown’s paper clip statues on the Mississippi River have a new look. Builders installed new shade structures atop the dock, an effort from the Downtown Development District to make it easier for people to enjoy the area during the day. The district also plans to add colored LED lights that will illuminate the semi-transparent shade structures and will be “prominent” from the Mississippi River Bridge. The DDD hopes the new project will attract more events to the area.

Insurers under fire: As the U.S. wrestles with an opioid epidemic, a new report from The New York Times and ProPublica finds health insurers are limiting access to pain medication with a lower risk of addiction. At the same time, the report says, insurers are making it relatively easy to access generic opioid medications, which are generally cheaper. A host of players in the opioid epidemic—including drugmakers, drug distributors, pharmacies and doctors—have come under fire in recent years. Baton Rouge is currently mulling a lawsuit against the major U.S. drug distributors. But, as The Times and ProPublica report, the role that insurers have played has received far less attention. Read more.

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