Health News Roundup: J&J to seek U.S. FDA authorization of booster shot this week - NYT; U.S. CDC advises against travel to Austria, Barbados over COVID-19 and more
Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
Henrietta Lacks' estate says pharma company profited from stolen cells
The estate of a Black woman whose cervical cells were taken from her decades ago without her permission sued a pharmaceutical company on Monday, saying it made a "conscious choice" to mass produce the cells and profit from a "racially unjust medical system." Henrietta Lacks' estate hasn't "seen a dime" of the revenue Thermo Fisher Scientific made from cultivating the HeLa cell line that was taken from Lacks at Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1951, according to the lawsuit filed in Maryland federal court.
Factbox-Countries weigh need for booster COVID-19 shots
Many countries are preparing to make COVID-19 vaccine booster shots available, but there is no consensus among scientists that they are necessary and the World Health Organization wants the most vulnerable people worldwide to be fully vaccinated first. The following outlines some of the options countries and regions are considering on the issue:
A year after COVID vaccine waiver proposal, WTO talks are deadlocked
A year after South Africa and India introduced a novel proposal https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-wto/india-and-south-africa-ask-wto-to-waive-rules-to-aid-covid-19-drug-production-idUSKBN26P0H1 to temporarily waive intellectual property rights on COVID-19 vaccines and therapies at the World Trade Organization, negotiations are deadlocked and directionless, trade sources said on Monday after a meeting on the topic. More than 100 countries backing the waiver say it will help save lives by allowing developing countries to produce COVID-19 vaccines. But a handful of countries, including some hosting major pharmaceutical firms such as Switzerland, remain opposed. Washington threw its weight behind the proposal https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/us-trade-chief-says-wto-vaccine-talks-should-remove-obstacles-production-2021-05-12 in May, raising expectations of a breakthrough that has so far failed to materialise.
J&J to seek U.S. FDA authorization of booster shot this week - NYT
Johnson & Johnson is planning to ask U.S. federal regulators this week to authorize a booster shot of its COVID-19 vaccine, the New York Times reported https://www.nytimes.com/live/2021/10/04/world/covid-delta-variant-vaccine#johnson-johnson-will-seek-fda-authorization-for-a-booster-shot on Monday, citing officials familiar with the company's plans. While scientists are divided over the need for booster shots when so many people in the United States and other countries remain unvaccinated, the Biden administration announced the push for an extra dose in August as part of an effort to shore up protection against the highly transmissible Delta variant.
Pharmacy chains failed to prevent opioid misuse, U.S. jury hears
Pharmacy operators including CVS Health Corp and Walmart Inc fueled the U.S. opioid epidemic by failing to stop massive quantities of addictive painkillers from reaching the black market, a lawyer for two Ohio counties said at the start of a trial on Monday. Mark Lanier told a federal jury in Cleveland hearing the first trial the pharmacy chains have faced in nationwide litigation over the epidemic that the companies bore responsibility for drug abuse in the counties of Lake and Trumbull.
Exclusive-Eli Lilly's recalled emergency diabetes drug came from plant cited by FDA
A recently recalled batch of Glucagon Emergency Kits, Eli Lilly and Co's therapy for diabetic patients in crisis, was manufactured at an Indiana factory cited by U.S. health regulators this year for quality-control violations, including several involving that product, according to the company and a Reuters review of federal inspection records. The Indianapolis-based company on Sept. 24 issued a voluntary U.S. recall of one lot of the kits whose key ingredient is Glucagon, a drug used to treat dangerously low blood sugar in diabetes patients. The company issued a voluntary recall in Canada the following day.
Two Americans win Medicine Nobel for work on heat and touch
American scientists David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian won the 2021 Nobel Prize for Medicine on Monday for the discovery of receptors in the skin that sense temperature and touch and could pave the way for new pain-killers. Their work, carried out independently, has helped show how humans convert the physical impact from heat or touch into nerve impulses that allow us to "perceive and adapt to the world around us," the Nobel Assembly at Sweden's Karolinska Institute said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday warned against travel to Armenia, Austria, Barbados, Croatia and Latvia because of COVID-19 concerns. The CDC raised its travel recommendations to "Level 4: Very High," telling Americans they should avoid travel to the five countries.
U.S. administers nearly 397 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines - CDC
The United States had administered 396,919,564 doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the country as of Monday morning and distributed 478,392,765 doses, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. Those figures were up from the 395,934,825 vaccine doses the CDC said had gone into arms by Sunday.
EU regulator backs mRNA vaccine booster for people with weak immunity
The European Union's drugs regulator said on Monday people with weakened immune systems should get a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, but left it to member states to decide if the wider population should have a booster. The long-awaited guidance comes after several EU member states pre-empted the European Medicines Agency's (EMA) opinion and launched their own booster campaigns, although they vary widely over who is eligible.
(With inputs from agencies.)