Health News Roundup: AstraZeneca signs COVID treatment deal with China's Genertec Meheco; Japan's Daiichi Sankyo applies for approval of mRNA COVID vaccine and more
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said on Friday that a CDC vaccine database had uncovered a possible safety issue in which people 65 and older were more likely to have an ischemic stroke 21 days after receiving the Pfizer/BioNTech bivalent shot, compared with days 22-44. California lawsuit accuses drugmakers of insulin overcharging California is suing the United States' leading insulin makers and pharmacy benefit managers, accusing them of using their market power to overcharge patients for the life-saving drug, the state's attorney general announced on Thursday.
Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
AstraZeneca signs COVID treatment deal with China's Genertec Meheco
AstraZeneca has signed a cooperation agreement with China's Genertec Meheco for the COVID-19 antibody drug Evusheld, it said on Friday. Genertec Meheco, a unit of Shanghai-listed China Meheco Group Co, will be responsible for the import and distribution of Evusheld in mainland China once the drug is approved to enter the Chinese market with conditions or for emergency use.
UnitedHealth brushes off hit from 'tripledemic' of respiratory diseases
UnitedHealth Group Inc said on Friday the so-called "tripledemic" of respiratory diseases in the winter had not substantially driven up medical costs at its health insurance business in the fourth quarter. Medical costs of the industry bellwether, the first health insurer to report its fourth-quarter earnings, were expected to be under pressure from the "tripledemic" of flu, COVID-19, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
Japan's Daiichi Sankyo applies for approval of mRNA COVID vaccine
Daiichi Sankyo Co said on Friday it submitted its mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine for regulatory approval in Japan. Approval would give Japan a home-grown mRNA vaccine of the type that have made up the bulk of its COVID inoculations so far. The vaccine known as DS-5670 is being proposed as a booster shot, Daiichi Sankyo said in a statement.
Biden administration vaccine drive leader David Kessler to step down
David Kessler, who led the COVID-19 vaccine distribution efforts for the United States, is stepping down from President Joe Biden's administration, the Department of Health and Human Services confirmed on Friday. Kessler, a pediatrician and lawyer who headed the U.S. Food and Drug Administration under presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, will return to teaching at the University of California, San Francisco, the New York Times reported earlier.
China COVID peak to last 2-3 months, hit rural areas next -expert
The peak of China's COVID-19 wave is expected to last two to three months, and will soon swell over the vast countryside where medical resources are relatively scarce, a top Chinese epidemiologist has said. Infections are expected to surge in rural areas as hundreds of millions travel to their hometowns for the Lunar New Year holidays, which officially start from Jan. 21, known before the pandemic as the world's largest annual migration of people.
U.S. FDA, CDC see early signal of Pfizer bivalent COVID shot's link to stroke
A safety monitoring system flagged that U.S. drugmaker Pfizer Inc and German partner BioNTech's updated COVID-19 shot could be linked to a type of brain stroke in older adults, according to preliminary data analyzed by U.S. health authorities. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said on Friday that a CDC vaccine database had uncovered a possible safety issue in which people 65 and older were more likely to have an ischemic stroke 21 days after receiving the Pfizer/BioNTech bivalent shot, compared with days 22-44.
California lawsuit accuses drugmakers of insulin overcharging
California is suing the United States' leading insulin makers and pharmacy benefit managers, accusing them of using their market power to overcharge patients for the life-saving drug, the state's attorney general announced on Thursday. The lawsuit, filed in California Superior Court in Los Angeles, targets Eli Lilly and Co, Novo Nordisk A/S and Sanofi SA, which together make more than 90% of the insulin drugs sold globally.
EMA seeks to issue guidance on liver damage from Novartis' gene therapy
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said on Friday it plans to issue advice for physicians using Novartis AG's Zolgensma, calling on them to monitor patients for any liver injury after treatment. The statement follows two deaths due to liver failure after treatment with gene therapy against spinal muscular atrophy, reported by Novartis in August.
Drug companies favor biotech meds over pills, citing new U.S. law
Drugmakers are prioritizing complex biotech medicines over treatments that can be given as pills because recent U.S. legislation gives biologics a longer runway before becoming subject to government price limits, top industry executives said this week. The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which Democrats passed last August, for the first time allows the government's Medicare health plan for people age 65 and over to negotiate the prices it is willing to pay for certain medications.
Omicron subvariant XBB.1.5 accounts for 43% of U.S. COVID cases - CDC
The fast-spreading Omicron subvariant XBB.1.5 is estimated to account for 43% of the COVID-19 cases in the United States for the week ended Jan. 14, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed on Friday. The subvariant accounted for about 30% of cases in the first week of January, higher than the 27.6% the CDC estimated last week.
(With inputs from agencies.)
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- UnitedHealth Group Inc
- Pfizer Inc
- the Food and Drug Administration
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- George H.W. Bush
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