Health News Roundup: AstraZeneca calls off two late-stage potassium drug trials; US FDA gives second approval to Eli Lilly's drug for type of blood cancer and more
The Danish drugmaker is working to convince European governments and insurers to reimburse the drug, seeking to position it as more than a lifestyle drug. EU watchdog seeks more data from GLP-1 drugmakers on suicidal thoughts The EU's drug watchdog will request more data from makers of a class of diabetes and weight-loss drugs including Novo Nordisk's popular therapies Ozempic and Wegovy to further investigate suicidal thoughts in some patients taking them.
Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
AstraZeneca calls off two late-stage potassium drug trials
AstraZeneca is calling off two late-stage trials into the potential benefits of its potassium-reduction drug Lokelma in treating a chronic condition called hyperkalemia in people with various heart and kidney diseases. "The decision to discontinue the trials is not due to safety concerns and the positive benefit-risk of Lokelma does not change in the approved indication," AstraZeneca said in a statement on Friday.
US FDA gives second approval to Eli Lilly's drug for type of blood cancer
Eli Lilly said on Friday the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave a second approval for its drug Jaypirca, which is used to treat a form of blood cancer. The company said the health regulator gave the new approval to the drug for the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), a type of cancer in which the bone marrow makes too many of certain white blood cells.
US FDA says BD recalling infusion pumps due to compatibility issues
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said on Friday that Becton Dickinson is recalling its Alaris infusion pumps due to compatibility issues with Cardinal Health's Monoject syringes. The health regulator said Alaris pumps are validated for use with Monoject syringes. However, the dimensions for Monoject syringes have recently changed while rebranding the syringes from Covidien Monoject to Cardinal Health Monoject.
Denmark could help more patients with Wegovy cost if Novo pays too -minister
Denmark's government could help cover the cost of hugely popular weight-loss drug Wegovy for more people with severe obesity if its Danish maker, Novo Nordisk, also contributes some funding, Health Minister Sophie Lohde said on Friday. Her comments are the latest sign that governments are weighing the cost of paying for the weekly injection against the benefits for the economy and healthcare system of having a healthier population.
Explainer-What do we know about China’s respiratory illness surge?
A request by the World Health Organization for more information on a surge in respiratory illnesses and clusters of pneumonia in children in China has attracted global attention. Health authorities have not detected any unusual or novel pathogens, the WHO later said, and doctors and public health researchers say there is no evidence for international alarm.
China's respiratory illness rise due to known pathogens -official
China's surge in respiratory illness is caused by known pathogens and there is no sign of new infectious diseases, a health official said on Saturday as the country faces its first full winter since lifting strict COVID-19 restrictions. The spike in illness in the country where COVID emerged in late 2019 attracted the spotlight when the World Health Organization sought information last week, citing a report on clusters of undiagnosed pneumonia in children.
Factbox-Launches of Novo Nordisk's weight-loss drug Wegovy
Novo Nordisk is pushing ahead with the launches of weight-loss drug Wegovy in Europe and Asia, even as it struggles to keep up with demand. The Danish drugmaker is working to convince European governments and insurers to reimburse the drug, seeking to position it as more than a lifestyle drug.
EU watchdog seeks more data from GLP-1 drugmakers on suicidal thoughts
The EU's drug watchdog will request more data from makers of a class of diabetes and weight-loss drugs including Novo Nordisk's popular therapies Ozempic and Wegovy to further investigate suicidal thoughts in some patients taking them. "While at this point no conclusion can be drawn on a causal association, there are several issues that still need to be clarified," the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said in a statement on Friday.
Pfizer drops twice-daily version of obesity pill over side effects
Pfizer said on Friday it would not advance a twice-daily version of oral weight-loss drug danuglipron into late-stage studies after most patients dropped out of its midstage trial with high rates of side effects such as nausea and vomiting, and its shares fell 5%. Pfizer has a once-daily version of the weight-loss pill still in the development. It hopes a change in the drug's release mechanism can reduce side effects, but early data on the new formulation will not be available until the first half of next year.
US obesity docs expect Lilly weight-loss drug to show similar heart benefit as Wegovy
Some leading U.S. obesity specialists say they expect Eli Lilly’s powerful weight-loss drug Zepbound will produce the same or similar heart benefits as Novo Nordisk’s popular Wegovy as they belong to the same class of medicines. The views of the five doctors, all senior physicians practicing obesity medicine at top universities and hospitals, indicate that Novo's drug is not likely to have a significant edge based on its heart benefits, even though it will be years before Lilly produces similar cardiovascular data. Both medicines are GLP-1 agonists, a class originally designed to treat type 2 diabetes.
(With inputs from agencies.)