Health News Roundup: Walgreens shelves pharmacy Boots' sale as market turmoil hits dealmaking; Omicron sub-variants BA.4, and BA.5 make up more than 50% of U.S. COVID cases - CDC and more
The CARESCAPE R860 ventilator's backup batteries, including replacement backup batteries, were recalled as they were running out earlier-than-expected, which could cause the device to shut down preventing the patient from receiving breathing support, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said. U.S. FDA advisers recommend change to COVID vaccine composition for fall Advisers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday recommended a change in the design of COVID-19 booster shots this fall in order to combat more recently circulating variants of the coronavirus.
Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
Walgreens shelves pharmacy Boots' sale as market turmoil hits dealmaking
Walgreens Boots Alliance on Tuesday scrapped the plan to sell its UK high street pharmacy chain, Boots, saying no third party was able to make an adequate offer due to the turmoil in global financial markets. Walgreens' move to call off the sale comes as private equity bidders Apollo Global and TDR faced headwinds in raising financing for the deal, several sources told Reuters, as banks were wary of underwriting large chunks of the financing due to tough market conditions.
The fast-spreading BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants of Omicron are estimated to make up a combined 52% of the coronavirus cases in the United States as of June 25, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Tuesday. The two sublineages accounted for more than a third of U.S. cases for the week of June 18. They were added to the World Health Organization's monitoring list in March and designated as variants of concern by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
U.S. FDA classifies the recall of GE's ventilator batteries as the most serious
U.S. health regulators on Tuesday classified the recall of some backup batteries of GE Healthcare's ventilators, which the company had initiated in mid-April, as the most serious type, saying that their use could lead to injuries or death. The CARESCAPE R860 ventilator's backup batteries, including replacement backup batteries, were recalled as they were running out earlier than expected, which could cause the device to shut down preventing the patient from receiving breathing support, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said.
U.S. FDA advisers recommend a change to COVID vaccine composition for fall
Advisers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday recommended a change in the design of COVID-19 booster shots this fall in order to combat more recently circulating variants of the coronavirus. The FDA's Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee voted 19-2 that the next wave of COVID booster shots should include a component that targets the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
Advisers to the U.S Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday overwhelmingly recommended the inclusion of an Omicron component for COVID-19 booster vaccines in the fall. The panel of advisers voted 19-2 in favor of the recommendation.
The U.S. steps up fight against monkeypox, allocates more vaccines to states
The U.S. government is ramping up efforts to staunch the spread of monkeypox by sending hundreds of thousands of vaccine doses to states in the coming months, expanding access for those most at risk, and increasing supply to areas with high case numbers. The plan, announced on Tuesday, involves rapidly expanding access to doses of Bavarian Nordic's Jynneos vaccine - which has so far been limited - to prevent monkeypox in areas with the highest transmission and need.
EU begins review of Bavarian Nordic's vaccine for monkeypox
The European Union's drug regulator said on Tuesday it has started a review to extend the use of Bavarian Nordic's smallpox vaccine to prevent monkeypox disease as well. The Danish biotech's Imvanex vaccine is approved for smallpox in Europe but has been provided for off-label use to treat monkeypox cases.
Nigeria says at the current rate, monkeypox infections in 2022 could be the highest in five years
Confirmed cases of monkeypox in Nigeria could reach their highest level in five years if the current trend of infections is maintained, the head of the country's center for disease control said on Tuesday. Nigeria is one of the countries in Africa where monkeypox is endemic. Monkeypox occurs when a person comes in contact with the virus from another person, animal, or contaminated materials.
Texas attorney general opens investigation into Walmart's opioid sales
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said on Tuesday he was investigating whether Walmart improperly filled prescriptions and failed to report suspicious orders when selling opioid drugs. Paxton said he had opened a civil investigation into Walmart's potential violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act relating to the promotion, sale, dispensing, and distribution of prescription opioids.
Pfizer Inc and Moderna Inc said on Tuesday they will be ready with COVID-19 vaccines designed to combat the BA.1 Omicron variant that was dominant last winter earlier than those designed to target currently dominant subvariants. Moderna said it would be ready with a "couple of hundred million" bivalent vaccines designed to combat BA.1 by September, but it would be late October or early November if the vaccine maker needed to design a vaccine to combat the currently dominant BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants.
(With inputs from agencies.)