Health News Roundup: EU, Pfizer/BioNTech announce amendment to COVID vaccine contract; Elon Musk's Neuralink wins FDA approval for human study of brain implants and more
The judge's ruling allows a previous law permitting abortions up to around 22 weeks to stay in effect until the state's highest court has reviewed the new ban, according to local media reports. France confirms bird flu vaccination after favourable tests France confirmed its aim to launch a vaccination programme against bird flu in the autumn after results from a series of tests on the vaccination of ducks showed "satisfactory effectiveness", the farm ministry said.
Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
EU, Pfizer/BioNTech announce amendment to COVID vaccine contract
The European Union and drugmakers Pfizer and BioNTech said on Friday they had reached a deal to amend a COVID-19 vaccine contract, cutting the number the EU must buy and pushing the delivery deadline to 2026. The agreement, first reported by Reuters earlier on Friday, comes after months of talks and amid pressure on Brussels from EU governments to secure a change to the contract because of a global glut of COVID-19 vaccine doses and low demand for boosters. Some European governments have destroyed doses.
Elon Musk's Neuralink wins FDA approval for human study of brain implants
Elon Musk's Neuralink received U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance for its first-in-human clinical trial, a critical milestone for the brain-implant startup as it faces U.S. probes over its handling of animal experiments. The FDA approval "represents an important first step that will one day allow our technology to help many people," Neuralink said in a tweet on Thursday, without disclosing details of the planned study. It added it is not recruiting for the trial yet and said more details would be available soon.
South Carolina judge temporarily blocks six-week abortion ban
A South Carolina judge on Friday temporarily blocked the state's new law that bans most abortions after about six weeks, ruling that it should be considered by the state Supreme Court before taking effect. State Circuit Judge Clifton Newman granted reproductive rights groups' motion to block the legislation, which Republican Governor Henry McMaster signed into law on Thursday. The judge's ruling allows a previous law permitting abortions up to around 22 weeks to stay in effect until the state's highest court has reviewed the new ban, according to local media reports.
France confirms bird flu vaccination after favourable tests
France confirmed its aim to launch a vaccination programme against bird flu in the autumn after results from a series of tests on the vaccination of ducks showed "satisfactory effectiveness", the farm ministry said. A severe strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza, commonly called bird flu, has ravaged poultry production around the world, leading to the culling of over 200 million birds in the past 18 months.
AstraZeneca's drug combo shows positive results in late-stage cancer trial
AstraZeneca said on Friday a combination of its cancer drugs Imfinzi and Lynparza when added to platinum-based chemotherapy showed positive results in a late-stage trial in patients with advanced or recurrent endometrial cancer. The treatment followed by either Imfinzi plus Lynparza or Imfinzi alone as maintenance therapy showed a statistically meaningful improvement in progression-free survival (PFS) compared to standard-of-care chemotherapy, the British drugmaker said.
Moderna says looking for opportunities in China after registering legal entity
Vaccine maker Moderna Inc said on Friday it was looking for opportunities in China after confirming that it had registered a legal entity in the world's second-largest economy.
The U.S. biotech firm registered a unit called Moderna (China) Biotech Ltd in Shanghai on May. 24 with capital of $100 million, according to Chinese data providers including company database Qichacha.
EU regulator recommends revoking authorization for Novartis' sickle cell drug
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said on Friday it had recommended revoking marketing authorization for Novartis' sickle cell disease drug Adakveo. The recommendation follows a review by EMA's human medicines committee (CHMP) that concluded the benefits of the drug did not outweigh risks, according to the regulator.
Pharmacy chain Walgreens Boots Alliance to cut corporate jobs by 10%
Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc said on Friday it would slash its corporate staff by about 10%, as it streamlines operations and focuses on consumer-facing healthcare businesses.
None of the 504 roles being cut are based at its stores, micro-fulfillment outlets or call centers, a company spokesperson told Reuters.
U.S. FDA approves Lexicon Pharma's drug for heart failure
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Lexicon Pharmaceuticals Inc's drug for a broad treatment of heart failure, including in adult patients with type 2 diabetes, the company said on Friday. Shares of the company rose 13% in extended trading.
Pfizer, Moderna hit with new Alnylam patent lawsuits over COVID-19 vaccines
Biotech company Alnylam Pharmaceuticals Inc filed new lawsuits on Friday against Pfizer Inc and Moderna Inc in Delaware federal court, again claiming that the companies' COVID-19 vaccines infringe its patents. The new lawsuits mark the third time Alnylam has sued Pfizer and Moderna in Delaware for allegedly violating its patent rights in lipid nanoparticle (LNP) technology, which the vaccines use to deliver genetic material into the body.
(With inputs from agencies.)