Health News Roundup: Illumina launches next-generation DNA sequencers; India's top court legalizes abortion regardless of marital status and more
The migraine drugmaker in May agreed to an $11.6 billion acquisition deal by Pfizer Inc, which plans to spin off its non-migraine drugs into a new publicly traded company. Around 3.2 million Americans received updated COVID boosters last week -CDC Around 3.2 million people in the United States received updated COVID-19 booster shots over the past week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Thursday.
Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
Illumina launches next-generation DNA sequencers
Illumina Inc, the top maker of DNA sequencers used to speed drug development and other research, on Thursday announced the launch of its next-generation NovaSeq X systems, which it said can generate more than 20,000 whole genomes per year, or 2.5 times that of prior sequencers. The larger-scale throughput will make the systems, the largest of which is priced at $1.25 million, more cost-effective for customers, Illumina Chief Commercial Officer Susan Tousi told Reuters.
India's top court legalizes abortion regardless of marital status
India's top court on Thursday upheld the right of a woman to an abortion up to 24 weeks into pregnancy regardless of marital status, a decision widely hailed by women's rights activists. The right to abortion has proved contentious globally after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned in June its landmark 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade that had legalized the procedure across the United States.
Biohaven's ALS drug fails to meet study goals
Biohaven Pharmaceutical Holding Company Ltd said on Thursday its experimental drug to treat amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) failed a clinical study, the second therapy by the drugmaker to fail trials in recent months. The migraine drugmaker in May agreed to an $11.6 billion acquisition deal by Pfizer Inc, which plans to spin off its non-migraine drugs into a new publicly traded company.
Around 3.2 million Americans received updated COVID boosters last week -CDC
Around 3.2 million people in the United States received updated COVID-19 booster shots over the past week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Thursday. The CDC said a total of 7.6 million Americans had received the shot as of Sept. 28, the first four weeks the booster has been available. This is up from the 4.4. million people who received the shot as of Sept. 21.
A Chinese mRNA COVID vaccine gains its first approval - in Indonesia
Indonesia said it has granted emergency use approval to an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine developed by a Chinese company, becoming the first country, ahead of even China, to do so. Indonesia's food and drugs agency greenlighted the use of Walvax Biotechnology's mRNA vaccine, which has been in development for more than two years and targets the original strain of the coronavirus.
As Australia calls end to COVID emergency response, doctors warn of risk to public
Australia will end the mandatory five-day home quarantine for COVID-infected people on Oct. 14, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Friday, even as some doctors warned the move would put the public at risk. The decision to let COVID-infected Australians decide whether they need to isolate or not removes one of country's last remaining restrictions from the pandemic era, and comes about a month after the quarantine period was cut to five days from seven.
FDA greenlights Amylyx's ALS drug
Amylyx Pharmaceuticals Inc said on Thursday the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved its drug for slowing the progression of ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and potentially delaying death, sending shares of the company up nearly 14% in extended trading. The company added healthcare professionals can soon write prescriptions for the drug, to be sold under the brand name Relyvrio, even as it works on the launch.
Japan health panel recommends allowing the import, use of medical marijuana products
A Japanese health ministry panel on Thursday recommended revising the nation's drug laws to allow for the importation and use of medicinal marijuana products. The recommendation was based on meeting medical needs and harmonising Japan with international standards, the committee said in a report. The revision would apply to marijuana products whose safety and efficacy were confirmed under laws governing pharmaceuticals and medical devices.
Alzheimer's drug study yields positive results, say makers Eisai and Biogen
An experimental Alzheimer's drug made by Eisai Co Ltd and Biogen slowed cognitive and functional decline in a large trial of patients in the early stages of the disease, they said on Tuesday, potentially a rare win in a field littered with failed drugs. Multiple drugmakers have so far tried and failed to find an effective treatment for the brain-wasting disease that affects about 55 million people globally. A breakthrough would be a major boost to similar studies being run by Roche and Eli Lilly.
Siga Tech receives $10.7-million order for antiviral Tpoxx amid monkeypox outbreak
Siga Technologies said on Thursday it has won a new contract for its oral antiviral drug, Tpoxx, worth up to $10.7 million from the U.S. Department of Defense as the country stocks up on the treatment amid a monkeypox outbreak. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) earlier this month issued guidance for the expanded use of the drug, which is approved only for smallpox by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), to help tackle the monkeypox spread. Siga said it aims to deliver $5.1 million worth of oral Tpoxx drugs this year, with the remaining subject to the discretion of the department. The new contract follows another one from the DoD earlier this year for the procurement of $7.4 million worth of oral Tpoxx, with all drugs expected to be delivered this year, the company said. The company also said in August the U.S. government would buy $26-million worth of intravenous formulation of Tpoxx for patients unable to swallow the oral pill as monkeypox symptoms include rashes and blisters in the mouth. More than 65,000 cases of monkeypox disease have been confirmed in over 90 countries where the disease is not endemic, with the World Health Organization declaring it a global health emergency in July. This has led to a flurry of orders for Siga, with the company earlier this week disclosing about $16 million in international procurement orders received in August and early September.
(With inputs from agencies.)