Health News Roundup: AstraZeneca says Imfinzi combo shows promise in late-stage lung cancer trial; Alabama cites Supreme Court abortion decision in transgender youth case and more
Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
AstraZeneca says Imfinzi combo shows promise in late-stage lung cancer trial
AstraZeneca said on Thursday a combination of its cancer drug, Imfinzi, and chemotherapy showed promise in a late-stage trial in patients with an aggressive form of lung cancer when given before surgery. Data showed the combination was more effective in removing cancer cells in tissue samples taken during surgery when compared with just chemotherapy in patients with non-small cell lung cancer, the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker said.
Alabama cites Supreme Court abortion decision in transgender youth case
Just days after the U.S. Supreme Court abolished women's constitutional right to abortion, Alabama has cited that ruling in a bid to outlaw parents from obtaining puberty blockers and certain other medical treatments for their transgender children. The citation came in an appeal by Alabama's attorney general seeking to lift a federal court injunction that partially blocked enforcement of a newly enacted state ban on medical interventions for youth whose gender identity is at odds with their birth sex.
U.S. FDA to use existing Omicron booster data to review shots targeting new subvariants -official
U.S. health regulators will not require companies to submit new clinical trial data on COVID-19 vaccines that target the now dominant BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants to authorize those shots, but will instead rely on studies showing the efficacy of targeting the earlier BA.1 subvariant, a top official said on Thursday. Dr. Peter Marks, a senior official overseeing vaccines at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, told Reuters the agency would also consider manufacturing data specific to a BA.4 and BA.5 vaccine, and that preclinical data from animal studies and safety data for those shots could also be available.
Novartis leans toward spinoff of generic drugs unit - Bloomberg News
Novartis prefers a spinoff of its generic drug unit over a potential sale to private equity firms, Bloomberg News reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter. A challenging macro environment for leveraged buyouts has made the sale route difficult and Novartis sees a separate listing of the Sandoz business as more likely, the report said.
Africa in need of test kits, and vaccines as monkeypox spreads
Africa has no vaccines for monkeypox and test kits are in short supply, international health agencies said on Thursday, warning that richer countries already appeared to be hoarding vaccines. Monkeypox is a viral disease that causes flu-like symptoms and skin lesions. It is endemic in parts of Africa but has also recently been reported in countries with no history of human transmission, including Ghana, Morocco and South Africa.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday recommended COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers change the design of their booster shots beginning this fall to include components tailored to combat the currently dominant Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of the coronavirus. If authorized, the changes would mark the first major retooling of COVID vaccines, but also could slow their rollout as the FDA has recommended a design somewhat different from what the companies had already tested and started producing.
North Korea claimed on Friday that the country's first COVID-19 outbreak began with patients touching "alien things" near the border with South Korea, apparently shifting blame to the neighbor for the wave of infections in the isolated country. Announcing the results of an investigation, the North ordered people to "vigilantly deal with alien things coming by wind and other climate phenomena and balloons in the areas along the demarcation line and borders," the official KCNA news agency said.
Demand for a Dutch service offering abortion pills surged more than fourfold after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade, a women's rights campaigner said on Thursday. Requests for help via the Aid Access website, which offers abortion consultations remotely and ships medication from overseas to women in the United States, jumped from roughly 600 to 700 to more than 4,000, Rebecca Gomperts, a physician, told Reuters in an interview.
Pfizer Inc said on Thursday it is seeking full U.S. approval for its oral COVID-19 antiviral treatment Paxlovid, which is currently available under an emergency use authorization (EUA). Pfizer said it submitted a New Drug Application for Paxlovid to the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of COVID-19 in vaccinated and unvaccinated people at high risk of progression to severe illness.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday declined to hear a challenge to New York's mandate that healthcare sector workers be vaccinated against COVID-19 brought by a group of doctors, nurses, and others who objected on religious grounds. Turning away an appeal by 16 healthcare workers, the justices left in place a lower court ruling that rejected their claim that the mandate violates the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment prohibition against religious discrimination by the government. Most of the workers either resigned from their jobs, lost hospital admitting privileges or were fired for refusing the vaccine.
(With inputs from agencies.)