Major Shifts in Health Sector: Weight-Loss Drugs, COVID Innovations, and Legal Battles

Recent health news highlights significant developments: an increase in employer coverage of weight-loss drugs, a new Chinese generic application for Ozempic, major U.S. funding for oral and nasal COVID vaccines, and various legal disputes involving pharmaceutical companies. These updates showcase the dynamic nature of the health sector.

Reuters | Updated: 14-06-2024 10:25 IST | Created: 14-06-2024 10:25 IST
Major Shifts in Health Sector: Weight-Loss Drugs, COVID Innovations, and Legal Battles
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Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

Employer coverage for weight-loss drugs rises sharply, survey finds

About one-third of U.S. employer health plans are offering coverage of GLP-1 drugs for both diabetes management and weight loss, up from last year, according to a survey of global employers released on Thursday by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans. GLP-1 drugs for weight loss grew as a portion of employers' overall medical claims spending to 8.9% in 2024 from 6.9% in 2023, the trade group's survey found. Only about 26% of employers offered the drugs last year.

Second Chinese drugmaker seeks approval for Ozempic generic

A second Chinese drugmaker has applied for approval to sell a generic version of Novo Nordisk's blockbuster diabetes drug Ozempic in China. Livzon Pharmaceutical Group said this week its subsidiary was seeking approval to sell the drug to control blood sugar in patients with type 2 diabetes and reduce risk of major adverse cardiovascular events in those who also have cardiovascular disease.

US government to fund up to $500 million for studies on oral, nasal COVID vaccines

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said on Thursday it will provide up to $500 million for mid-stage trials evaluating vaccines administered as a nasal spray or pill to protect against symptomatic COVID-19. The funding is part of Project NextGen, a $5 billion initiative led by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), to advance a pipeline of new, innovative vaccines and therapeutics providing broader and more durable protection against COVID-19 infection.

Teva sues Corcept over mifepristone 'monopoly' for rare disorder

Teva Pharmaceuticals sued rival drugmaker Corcept Therapeutics in federal court in San Francisco on Thursday, accusing it of monopolizing the market for mifepristone-based Korlym, used to treat a rare hormonal disorder called Cushing's syndrome. The lawsuit said Corcept and specialty pharmacy Optime Care, the sole distributor of Korlym, orchestrated "a multifaceted scheme to prolong Corcept's monopoly by stifling competition from Teva at every turn." Teva accused Corcept of "paying bribes and kickbacks" to physicians to keep them prescribing brand Korlym.

Moderna says next-generation COVID vaccine efficacy non-inferior to current shot

Moderna said on Thursday its next-generation COVID-19 vaccine candidate showed it was not inferior in efficacy compared to its approved shot in a late-stage study. The experimental vaccine, which met the main trial goal, was being tested in more than 11,000 people aged 12 years and older. The shot showed superior efficacy in adults than the current vaccine sold under the brand Spikevax.

More US bird flu spread would heighten human infection risk, officials say

Further spread of bird flu among U.S. dairy herds presents additional opportunities for human infections, federal officials said on Thursday while urging farms to take enhanced biosecurity measures to contain the virus. Bird flu has been reported in 94 dairy herds across 12 states since late March, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

US FDA classifies recall of Teleflex's inflatable devices as 'most serious'

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration classified a recall of Teleflex's inflatable devices that increase blood supply to the heart muscle as "most serious". The devices are used in patients undergoing cardiac and non-cardiac surgery, and to treat those who have had heart failure or have acute coronary syndrome, a group of diseases in which blood flow to the heart decreases.

US charges executives at ADHD startup in Adderall fraud

The founder and the top doctor of a San Francisco-based telehealth startup were charged by the U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday with running a fraudulent $100 million scheme to distribute Adderall and other stimulants online. Done Global founder Ruthia He and clinical president David Brody are the first to be federally prosecuted in connection with alleged illegal drug distribution related to a telehealth company.

US Supreme Court preserves access to abortion pill mifepristone

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a bid by anti-abortion groups and doctors to restrict access to the abortion pill, handing a victory on Thursday to President Joe Biden's administration in its efforts to preserve broad access to the drug. The justices, two years after ending the recognition of a constitutional right to abortion, ruled 9-0 to overturn a lower court's decision to roll back U.S. Food and Drug Administration steps in 2016 and 2021 that eased how the drug, called mifepristone, is prescribed and distributed. The decision was authored by conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Abortion pill still under legal threat despite US Supreme Court ruling

The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on Thursday keeping the abortion drug mifepristone on the market with no new restrictions ends one chapter of the legal fight over the drug, but efforts by abortion opponents to restrict its use may not be over. In rejecting a lawsuit by anti-abortion medical groups and doctors, the Supreme Court did not rule on their claim that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) acted improperly when it eased restrictions on mifepristone, including allowing it to be prescribed by telemedicine and dispensed by mail. Instead, the court found that they had not shown that they had suffered the kind of harm that would allow them to bring a lawsuit.

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

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