Health News Roundup: BioNTech to invest $43 million in German facility for mRNA vaccine building block; Canada moves to extend exclusion of mental illness from assisted death and more
The drug Jesduvroq comes with the boxed warning for increased thrombotic vascular events, including death, heart attack, stroke, and blood clots in the lungs, legs, or dialysis access site.
Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
BioNTech to invest $43 million in German facility for mRNA vaccine building block
BioNTech will invest 40 million euros ($43 million) in a new facility in Germany that will allow it to produce an important building block in mRNA-based drugs, the German pharmaceutical firm said on Thursday. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who visited the facility in Marburg, 90 kms (55.9 miles) north of Frankfurt, on Thursday, welcomed the investment.
Canada moves to extend exclusion of mental illness from assisted death
Canada's federal government on Thursday introduced a law that would exclude people suffering solely from mental illness from pursuing assisted death for an additional year. Legislation passed in 2021 temporarily excluded people whose only underlying condition is a mental illness from accessing assisted death - a provision that expires on March 17. If the bill tabled Thursday passes, it will extend that until March 17, 2024.
Draft WHO pandemic deal pushes for equity to avoid COVID 'failure' repeat
Governments may have to reserve drugs and vaccines for the World Health Organization to distribute in poorer countries to avoid a repeat of the "catastrophic failure" during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an early draft of a global pandemic agreement. One of the most concrete proposals in the draft accord reviewed by Reuters on Wednesday includes a measure to reserve 20% of any tests, vaccines or treatments developed for use in poorer countries.
In a health system in crisis, Britain's heart care suffers
In April 2021, Garry Cogan felt a slow, burning pain move steadily higher through his right arm. It was the start of a major heart attack that doctors warned could shave decades off his life without timely triple-bypass surgery. Nearly two years later Cogan is still waiting for an operation from Britain's overwhelmed health service, one of millions to suffer as it buckles under the weight of an ageing population, a lack of investment and the COVID-19 pandemic.
USTR seeks public comment on restoring tariffs on Chinese medical products
The U.S. Trade Representative's Office said on Thursday it is seeking public comment on whether to restore tariffs on 81 Chinese medical product import categories related to the fight against COVID-19. The trade agency said in a statement that it was extending exclusions from tariffs on the 81 products imposed by former president Donald Trump for another 75 days through May 15 to allow for comments from industry and other stakeholders.
Germany drops to no. 2 WHO donor despite new pledge for $140 million
Germany will give 130 million euros ($141.87 million) to the World Health Organization this year, its health minister said on Thursday following a meeting with the U.N. health agency's head. However, the announcement was not enough to return it to the top donor spot after Berlin temporarily overtook the main historical contributor Washington in the last funding period 2020-2021 due to Trump-era funding cuts, WHO data showed.
Siemens Healthineers confirms outlook despite Q1 profit drop
Siemens Healthineers confirmed its full-year outlook on Thursday despite a drop in quarterly profit driven by low demand in China, as it saw strong order growth in the first quarter. The company stuck with its outlook for comparable revenue to be flat within a range of a 1% fall to a 1% increase in fiscal 2023 from last year's 21.7 billion euros.
Mailing abortion pills could break law, Republican AGs tell pharmacies
A group of 20 Republican state attorneys general on Wednesday told Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc and CVS Health Corp that they risk running afoul of federal and state law if they dispense the abortion drug mifepristone by mail. The move, announced by Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey, comes weeks after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the first time allowed retail pharmacies to dispense mifepristone, including by mail, provided they are certified under special safety rules for the drug.
U.S. FDA removes COVID test requirements for Pfizer, Merck pills
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday removed the need for a positive test for COVID-19 treatments from Pfizer Inc and Merck & Co Inc. Pfizer's Paxlovid and Merck's Lagevrio pills were given emergency use authorizations in Dec. 2021 for patients with mild-to-moderate COVID who tested positive for the virus, and who were at risk of progressing to severe COVID.
U.S. FDA approves GSK's anemia drug for patients on dialysis
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday approved GSK Plc's drug as the first oral treatment for anemia caused by chronic kidney disease in adults who have been on dialysis for at least four months. The drug Jesduvroq comes with the boxed warning for increased thrombotic vascular events, including death, heart attack, stroke, and blood clots in the lungs, legs, or dialysis access site. The warnings and precautions also include a risk of hospitalization for heart failure, worsening increase of blood pressure, stomach erosions, and gastrointestinal bleeding.
(With inputs from agencies.)