Health News Roundup: Fresenius to assess whether state aid impacts bonus, dividend payouts; French plan to vaccinate ducks for bird flu triggers US trade restrictions and more
While J&J has lowered the price of bedaquiline, which is used to treat drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB), Unitaid said it was an "incomplete solution" and countries like South Africa, Belarus and Ukraine were not benefiting. US judge refuses to block Medicare from negotiating drug prices The U.S. government's Medicare health insurance program can begin negotiating prices for some prescription drugs this fall under a new program, a federal judge ruled on Friday, vindicating one of President Joe Biden's signature initiatives.
Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
Fresenius to assess whether state aid impacts bonus, dividend payouts
German healthcare group Fresenius said it was examining whether the state aid it received to help offset high energy costs at its hospitals business would bar it from making management bonus and dividend payments. "Fresenius is examining the pertinent rules and the legal repercussions very carefully at the moment," a company spokesperson said in a statement, adding it would discuss the matter with a new German regulatory body.
French plan to vaccinate ducks for bird flu triggers US trade restrictions
The U.S. government said on Friday that a decision by France to vaccinate ducks against avian flu will trigger restrictions on imports of French poultry beginning Oct. 1. France will start requiring vaccinations of ducks in October, making it the world's first country to launch a nationwide vaccination campaign, according to French farm ministry officials.
Cigna Group announces settlement with US on claims it overcharged Medicare Advantage program
Health insurer Cigna Group says it has reached a settlement with the United States over claims it overcharged the government's Medicare Advantage program by making it appear patients were more ill than they actually were. The settlement, reached on Friday, includes a payment of about $172 million by Cigna. Cigna said it also will enter into a corporate integrity agreement with the U.S. Office of Inspector General.
Aid agency urges Johnson & Johnson to improve access to tuberculosis drug
Global health aid agency Unitaid has written to Johnson & Johnson's CEO, Joaquin Duato, urging "immediate action" to expand access to the company's tuberculosis drug bedaquiline, which is protected by patents hindering generic alternatives. While J&J has lowered the price of bedaquiline, which is used to treat drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB), Unitaid said it was an "incomplete solution" and countries like South Africa, Belarus and Ukraine were not benefiting.
US judge refuses to block Medicare from negotiating drug prices
The U.S. government's Medicare health insurance program can begin negotiating prices for some prescription drugs this fall under a new program, a federal judge ruled on Friday, vindicating one of President Joe Biden's signature initiatives. The order by U.S. District Judge Michael Newman in Dayton, Ohio, comes in a lawsuit brought against the Biden administration by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Idaho can enforce abortion ban in medical emergencies, court rules
Idaho can fully enforce its near-total abortion ban after a U.S. appeals court lifted a lower court order that had partially blocked it. A unanimous panel of the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that the state ban on abortion, which includes a narrow exception for abortions that are necessary to prevent the mother's death, does not conflict with a federal law on emergency care.
Artificial heart maker Carmat's future seen in hands of core backers
Troubled artificial heart maker Carmat is appealing to key shareholders led by Airbus to invest new funds to avoid the collapse of the 30-year-old venture dating back to a chance meeting between a French surgeon and a missile magnate. Shares in the French medtech champion plummeted 37% this week after it warned it could run out of cash at the end of October following supply issues, as it actively explores "several financing options".
France races to stamp out bedbug 'scourge' before Olympics
With the Paris Olympics less than a year away, French authorities want to make sure the bedbugs don't bite during the games and have started a drive to exterminate the pests. Social media users have been publishing footage of the insects crawling around in high-speed trains and the Paris metro, alongside a rash of online articles about bedbugs in cinemas and even Charles de Gaulle airport.
Around 1.8 million Americans received COVID shots last week -IQVIA
Around 1.8 million people in the U.S. received a COVID-19 vaccine during the week ended Sept. 22, according to data compiled by health care data and analytics firm IQVIA Holdings Inc. Around 1 million people received the Pfizer/BioNTech shot and just under 800,000 got the Moderna vaccine, Michael Kleinrock, senior research director at the IQVIA institute told Reuters on Friday. He said the data might be missing some shots given at community vaccination sites and doctors' offices.
Novo Nordisk India head eyes 2026 Wegovy launch, warns against copycats
Danish drugmaker Novo Nordisk aims to bring its blockbuster weight-loss drug Wegovy to India in 2026, after securing regulatory approvals and ensuring it has enough supply to meet demand, a top company official told Reuters. The market opportunity for the drug is huge in the world's most populous country, where obesity rates are high especially among women. Illegal copycat versions of Wegovy are already being sold through online sites.
(With inputs from agencies.)