Health News Roundup: U.S. judge reinstates North Carolina ban on late-term abortions; South Carolina top court puts abortion ban on hold as it hears challenge and more
Tuesday's news came days after shares of GlaxoSmithKline Plc, Sanofi SA, Pfizer Inc and Haleon Plc were hit by mounting investor concern about thousands of lawsuits claiming the drug, which U.S. regulators pulled from the market in 2020, causes cancer. Russia's daily COVID cases cross 30,000 for first time since mid-March Russia reported 33,106 new daily coronavirus cases on Wednesday, authorities said, the highest figure since mid-March this year.
Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
U.S. judge reinstates North Carolina ban on late-term abortions
A federal judge on Wednesday reinstated a decades-old North Carolina ban on abortions performed after 20 weeks of gestation, citing the U.S. Supreme Court's recent decision allowing states to freely regulate procedures to terminate the pregnancy. Although so-called late-term procedures are rare, abortion rights proponents said Wednesday's ruling chips away at reproductive healthcare access in one of the last Southern states where abortion has remained relatively unencumbered.
South Carolina top court puts abortion ban on hold as it hears challenge
South Carolina's highest court on Wednesday blocked enforcement of a state law banning abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy while it considers a challenge to the law by a Planned Parenthood affiliate and other abortion providers. In a unanimous order, the five justices of the South Carolina Supreme Court did not express any opinion on whether Planned Parenthood is ultimately likely to prevail. However, they said the ban could conflict with the state's constitution.
U.S. CDC plans to focus on public health response after pandemic failings
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it will prioritize its public health response in a revamp of its structure after months of criticism over its handling of the COVID-19 and monkeypox pandemics. A briefing document provided by the agency on Wednesday said an external report into its response found public guidance had caused confusion, while important information was sometimes released too late to inform federal decisions.
The plaintiff in first Zantac lawsuit set for trial drops case
The plaintiff in the first lawsuit over the heartburn drug Zantac scheduled to go to trial has agreed to drop his case, according to his attorney and drugmakers named as defendants. Tuesday's news came days after shares of GlaxoSmithKline Plc, Sanofi SA, Pfizer Inc and Haleon Plc were hit by mounting investor concern about thousands of lawsuits claiming the drug, which U.S. regulators pulled from the market in 2020, causes cancer.
Russia's daily COVID cases cross 30,000 for first time since mid-March
Russia reported 33,106 new daily coronavirus cases on Wednesday, authorities said, the highest figure since mid-March this year. Sixty-three people in Russia died of coronavirus over the past day, the country's task force against the virus said.
Bluebird's $2.8 million gene therapy becomes the most expensive drug after U.S. approval
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday approved bluebird bio's gene therapy for patients with a rare disorder requiring regular blood transfusions, and the drugmaker priced it at a record $2.8 million. The approval sent the company's shares 8% higher and is for the treatment of beta-thalassemia, which causes an oxygen shortage in the body and often leads to liver and heart issues.
Sanofi trial failure halts work on breast cancer treatment amcenestrant
Sanofi has stopped further work on amcenestrant, a treatment once seen to have strong commercial potential in breast cancer after a second trial failure dealt a major blow to the French healthcare company's development prospects. The move weighed on shares and mounted pressure on Sanofi to bolster its pipeline of drug candidates as it becomes increasingly dependent on its multi-billion best seller, fast-growing eczema and asthma treatment Dupixent.
CVS, Walmart, and Walgreens ordered to pay $650.6 million to Ohio counties in opioid case
Pharmacy operators CVS, Walmart and Walgreens must pay a combined $650.6 million to two Ohio counties to address the damage done by the opioid epidemic, a federal judge ruled Wednesday. The order by U.S. District Judge Dan Polster in Cleveland marks the first time pharmacy chains have been ordered to pay money in an opioid lawsuit. It comes after a jury last November concluded that the companies helped create a public nuisance in Lake and Trumbull counties by over-supplying addictive pain pills, many of which found their way onto the black market.
Endo files for bankruptcy as U.S. opioid litigation drags
Endo International Plc filed for bankruptcy on Tuesday after reaching a $6 billion deal with some of its creditors, as the U.S. drugmaker seeks to settle thousands of lawsuits over its alleged role in the country's opioid epidemic. The pharmaceutical company is the latest to file for Chapter 11 to address opioid claims. Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, filed in September 2019, while Mallinckrodt Plc, a generic opioid manufacturer, recently emerged from bankruptcy.
FDA says faulty Philips device reports accelerating as CEO departs
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said reports of faulty Philips ventilators and sleep apnea machines had risen in the past quarter, underlining problems facing the Dutch company, which has just announced plans to replace its CEO. Philips says it is approximately halfway through a recall of 5.5 million such devices in the United States due to the threat posed by a foam part they contain -- a problem that has alarmed customers damaged the company's reputation and helped wipe $30 billion off its market capitalization.
(With inputs from agencies.)