Health News Roundup: Chinese visa applications just 35% of pre-pandemic levels, data show; J&J faces new trial over talc cancer claims, amid settlement push and more
VFS Global, a visa application outsourcing and technology services firm, said in a statement visa application volumes from China reached 35% of pre-COVID levels by May compared with the same period of 2019 (January to May 20). J&J faces new trial over talc cancer claims, amid settlement push Johnson & Johnson on Wednesday faced the first trial in almost two years over claims that asbestos in its baby powder and other talc products causes cancer, as it seeks to settle thousands of similar cases in bankruptcy court.
Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
Chinese visa applications just 35% of pre-pandemic levels, data show
Visa applications by Chinese citizens remain well below pre-pandemic levels following the lifting of travel restrictions in January, data from a specialist visa firm revealed, as the number of international flights remained limited. VFS Global, a visa application outsourcing and technology services firm, said in a statement visa application volumes from China reached 35% of pre-COVID levels by May compared with the same period of 2019 (January to May 20).
J&J faces new trial over talc cancer claims, amid settlement push
Johnson & Johnson on Wednesday faced the first trial in almost two years over claims that asbestos in its baby powder and other talc products causes cancer, as it seeks to settle thousands of similar cases in bankruptcy court. Emory Hernandez, 24, says he developed mesothelioma, a deadly cancer, in the tissue around his heart as a result of exposure to J&J's talc products beginning when he was a baby. The company has denied that its talc contains asbestos, which is linked to mesothelioma, or causes cancer.
Walmart is raising wages for pharmacists, opticians in healthcare push
Walmart is raising wages for thousands of U.S. pharmacists and opticians, the retailer said on Wednesday, part of its broader plan to expand primary care services across the country. The Bentonville, Arkansas-based chain said about 3,700 pharmacists would get a bump in pay starting on Wednesday, bringing their total annual average pay to more than $140,000, excluding bonuses and incentives. More than 4,000 opticians will also receive fatter paychecks, with their average hourly pay rising to more than $22.50 with this investment, Walmart executives wrote in a blog post.
FDA flags issues at Coherus partner's China plant for cancer drug
Coherus BioSciences Inc said on Wednesday that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had flagged three observations at its partner's manufacturing site in China when the agency was conducting inspections related to its experimental cancer drug. The FDA's observations, sent in a Form 483, were yet another setback for the company and its partner Shanghai Junshi Biosciences Co Ltd , and sent Coherus's shares to a record low of $3.60 in afternoon trade.
Exclusive-Roche looking to sell or shut down California biologic drug plant
Swiss drugmaker Roche Holding AG plans to sell its 800-employee drug manufacturing plant in Vacaville, California, or it will shut the factory by 2029, according to e-mailed letters to workers seen by Reuters on Wednesday. Roche confirmed the divestiture plan in a statement, but did not address the potential closing of the plant or its timeline.
Abbott accuses one of its former scientists of trade-secrets theft in US court
Healthcare company Abbott Laboratories on Tuesday sued one of its former scientists, accusing him in U.S. court of "secretly downloading" sensitive corporate files containing competitive information about nutrition products. The lawsuit in Chicago federal court alleged Roger Tyre committed "flagrant misconduct" prior to leaving Illinois-based Abbott, which sells the Ensure brand nutrition powders and shakes. Abbott said it learned of the alleged downloads of thousands of files in March.
Sanofi announces positive data for frexalimab product to treat multiple sclerosis
French healthcare company Sanofi announced on Wednesday positive data for its frexalimab product aimed at treating multiple sclerosis, and that the firm plans to initiate pivotal trials in multiple sclerosis in early 2024.
Argentina eases access to 'morning after pill', broadening reproductive rights
Argentina will no longer require a prescription to obtain emergency contraception, commonly known as the 'morning after pill', the government said on Wednesday, broadening reproductive rights in the traditionally conservative South American country. The Catholic country and homeland of Pope Francis approved a law allowing abortion up to 14 weeks in December 2020, part of a wave of liberalizing legislation around the region, even as the United States further north has seen abortion access tightened.
US FDA approves Pfizer's RSV vaccine
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday approved Pfizer Inc's respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine for older adults, making it the second shot against the common respiratory disease that can be fatal for seniors. The approval comes less than a month after the FDA approved a similar shot by rival GSK Plc. Pfizer's vaccine was approved for people aged 60 and older, the company said, the same age group as GSK's shot.
India makes tobacco warnings mandatory for streaming sites
India unveiled guidelines on Wednesday requiring streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video to display prominent warnings about smoking and other forms of tobacco use while airing shows with such scenes. While film and television certification bodies already moderate public content in India, its laws have few provisions to censor content on popular online platforms.
(With inputs from agencies.)