Healthcare Headlines: Abortion Ban, Vaccine Funding, Depression Drug Breakthrough

This summary covers various health news briefs including a legal challenge to Indiana's abortion ban, funding for BioNTech's African vaccine plants, and J&J's promising depression drug. It also highlights concerns over new nicotine-like chemicals in vapes, Medicaid cost trends, and a potential pandemic treaty deal.

Reuters | Updated: 30-05-2024 10:27 IST | Created: 30-05-2024 10:27 IST
Healthcare Headlines: Abortion Ban, Vaccine Funding, Depression Drug Breakthrough
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Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

Indiana needs clearer medical exception to abortion ban, doctor tells judge

An Indiana doctor who is suing the state over its abortion ban on Wednesday told a state judge that the exception for medical emergencies was unclear, and could prevent medically necessary abortions. The testimony from Dr. Amy Caldwell kicked off a nonjury trial, which is expected to last through Friday. Caldwell brought case along with Planned Parenthood.

BioNTech gets $145 million funding for African vaccine plants

COVID-19 vaccine maker BioNTech has secured up to $145 million in funding from a global coalition against infectious diseases to help build a production network in Africa for shots based on cutting-edge messenger-RNA (mRNA) technology. BioNTech and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) said in a joint statement on Wednesday that the financial support was part of an expanded partnership as the German biotech firm builds an mRNA vaccine factory site in Rwanda's capital Kigali.

J&J's drug eases depression and insomnia symptoms in late-stage study

Johnson & Johnson's experimental drug helped reduce symptoms of depression as well as insomnia in patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) in a late-stage trial, the company said in a statement on Wednesday. The trial was testing the drug, called seltorexant, in patients with both depression and insomnia. Sleep disturbances often accompany depression, despite treatment with commonly-used antidepressant drugs.

Exclusive-Nicotine-like chemicals in U.S. vapes may be more potent than nicotine, FDA says

Nicotine alternatives used in vapes being launched in the U.S. and abroad, such as 6-methyl nicotine, may be more potent and addictive than nicotine itself, though the scientific data remains incomplete, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and independent researchers. The synthetic substances - which have a chemical structure similar to that of nicotine - are not subject to U.S. tobacco and vaping regulations that are designed to control traditional nicotine, a highly addictive drug.

US health insurer shares fall after UnitedHealth flags Medicaid medical use

Shares of U.S. health insurers fell on Wednesday after UnitedHealth Group's chief executive said the company was keeping an eye on medical services used by Medicaid members, which could drive up costs. CEO Andrew Witty identified the performance of Medicaid as something worth watching given the program's membership turnover in multiple quarters.

Centene says Medicaid costs remain high in May

Health insurer Centene said on Wednesday it had bigger-than-expected claim receipts in April and the trend of higher medical costs in Medicaid continued into May. Medicaid is the federal health program for low-income people and families in the United States.

US nears deal to fund Moderna's bird flu vaccine trial, FT reports

The U.S. government is nearing an agreement to fund a late-stage trial of Moderna's mRNA pandemic bird flu vaccine, the Financial Times reported on Thursday, as an H5N1 outbreak spreads through egg farms and among cattle herds. The federal funding from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) could come as soon as next month, and would also include a promise to procure doses if the phase-three trials turn out to be successful, the report said.

JBS says China blocks beef from US plant over detection of ractopamine

Meat processor JBS said on Wednesday that Beijing blocked U.S. beef shipments from the company's plant in Greeley, Colorado, because traces of the feed additive ractopamine were identified in beef destined for China. Brazil-based JBS, the world's largest beef producer, said in a statement it is working with U.S. and Chinese authorities to resolve the situation and that no other JBS beef facilities in the U.S. have been impacted.

U.S. health secretary sees pandemic treaty deal as close

The top U.S. health official said on Wednesday it would be "tragic" for the world to miss out on key reforms to the global pandemic response and that a treaty deal was within reach, with no major differences between negotiators. Health officials are meeting in Geneva this week to try to wrap up more than two years of negotiations on a pandemic treaty and a series of updates to existing International Health Rules (IHR). However, countries have failed to finalise the treaty at this assembly and countries are considering an extension.

Merck to buy eye-focused drug developer EyeBio for as much as $3 billion

Merck on Wednesday agreed to buy privately held biotech EyeBio for as much as $3 billion, as it looks to diversify its portfolio of experimental drugs with treatments for eye diseases. The drugmaker agreed to pay $1.3 billion in cash and another $1.7 billion in future milestone-based payments for EyeBio, and will gain access to its retinal disease drug Restoret as part of the deal.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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