Health News Round-up: Imfinzi Approval, Women's Protests, and Youth Obesity Challenges

This summary provides an overview of recent health news, covering topics like the U.S. approval of AstraZeneca's Imfinzi for a type of endometrial cancer, protests against an abortion bill in Brazil, ongoing U.S. abortion rights struggles, youth obesity treatment challenges, and various updates on pharmaceutical trials and global health issues.


Reuters | Updated: 17-06-2024 18:29 IST | Created: 17-06-2024 18:29 IST
Health News Round-up: Imfinzi Approval, Women's Protests, and Youth Obesity Challenges
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Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

AstraZeneca Imfinzi plus chemotherapy gets US nod for certain type of endometrial cancer

AstraZeneca said its blockbuster cancer drug Imfinzi combined with chemotherapy has been approved by the U.S. as treatment for adult patients with primary, advanced or recurrent endometrial cancer that is mismatch repair deficient (dMMR). The approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration came after a late stage trial showed that Imfinzi along with chemotherapy drugs carboplatin and paclitaxel, then followed by Imfinzi by itself, reduced the risk of disease progression or death by 58% in specific endometrial cancer patients, compared to chemotherapy alone, the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker said on Monday.

Brazilian women march against bill tightening abortion ban

Thousands of women protested on Saturday against a bill advancing in Brazil's conservative Congress that would equate abortions after 22 weeks of pregnancy to homicide and establish sentences of six to 20 years in prison. The demonstrators marched along Sao Paulo's main Paulista Avenue carrying banners rejecting the proposal, which they call the most repressive approach to women's reproductive rights in decades.

US abortion rights still in flux two years after Roe reversal

Nearly two years after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned its landmark 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade, litigation over abortion has exploded. Justice Samuel Alito wrote in 2022's Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization that the court's longstanding precedent had "enflamed debate and deepened division." He said it was time to take the abortion issue out of the hands of the court and return it "to the people's elected representatives."

Weight-loss options for US youth are hard to come by

For many U.S. parents seeking help for a child with obesity, the most widely-endorsed treatment is out of reach - and it's not the popular weight-loss drug Wegovy. Leading medical groups recommend intensive behavioral counseling - 26 hours within one year - to teach children and their families practical ways to eat healthier and move more. But these programs are not widely available, and wait lists can run for several months. They are often not covered by health insurance and require a time commitment that is difficult for many families to make, according to interviews with more than a dozen doctors and parents. As a result, fewer than 1% of the nearly 15 million U.S. children with obesity get this type of structured care, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told Reuters. Efforts by the CDC and others to expand insurance coverage have stalled, doctors involved in the process told Reuters. "The coverage for these programs was never good, and we're not seeing any movement toward improvement," said Dr. Joseph Skelton, a professor of pediatrics and an obesity medicine specialist at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. The prevalence of obesity among U.S. children has steadily increased, from 5% in 1980 to nearly 20% now, according to the CDC. Novo Nordisk's Wegovy was approved for adults in 2021 and for adolescents in late 2022, offering a highly effective way to lose weight for the first time. Novo still cannot meet demand for the drug among adults, with at least 25,000 first-time prescriptions dispensed each week. A much smaller, but growing, number of families are seeking the drug for their adolescents, Reuters found in February. Many doctors and parents are wary of using the medication without data on whether Wegovy can affect a child's development, or pose other long-term risks. CHANGING HABITS Ruth Medina of Holyoke, Massachusetts, wanted to see if a change in family habits, rather than medication, could help her 15-year-old daughter, Jelainie, when she reached 200 pounds this year. The family has a history of type 2 diabetes, she said, a condition exacerbated by excess weight. "I don't want to go down that path. That's when I got scared," Medina said. Jelainie's pediatrician recommended the healthy weight program at Holyoke Health Center where children and their parents come for visits with a dietician and community health worker to set individual goals, plus group sessions about cooking, deciphering nutritional labels and other lifestyle changes. Dr. Vinny Biggs, who oversees the program, said families face a four-month wait to enroll. Medina and her daughter's participation is covered, in part, by the state Medicaid health insurance program, Biggs said. At the family's first session this month, Jelainie cut up cauliflower, carrots and other vegetables to prepare a paella dish alongside her instructors. Mother and daughter said they liked the meal and took home leftovers and the recipe. Jelainie has lost some weight. She started walking more, playing tennis and snacking on fruits and vegetables. Her mother still worries about the appeal of the many fast-food restaurants close to their home. "We walk by so many temptations," Medina said. "I want to do whatever I can to get her to a healthy weight." RED LIGHT, GREEN LIGHT The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an influential federal panel of experts, says it's better to stick to lifestyle changes for adolescents with obesity until more data on the long-term safety and effectiveness of the drugs are available, according to a draft recommendation published in December. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that youth aged 12 and older should be offered medications for obesity, but only as an "adjunct to health behavior and lifestyle treatment."

Aerovate scraps late-stage study for hypertension drug after mid-stage trial fails

Aerovate Therapeutics said on Monday it is shutting down the late-stage portion of a study testing its experimental hypertension drug after failing to meet the main goal in a mid-stage trial.

Bird flu spreads to seventh Australian poultry farm

Highly pathogenic avian influenza has spread to a seventh poultry farm near Melbourne, the government of Australia's Victoria state said on Monday. Six of the properties have an H7N3 flu strain and a seventh has an H7N9 strain, it said. Neither is the H5N1 type of avian flu that has infected billions of wild and farmed animals globally and raised fears of human transmission.

US FDA puts partial clinical hold on BioNTech's early-stage study of cancer drug

Germany's BioNTech SE said in a regulatory filing on Monday the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has placed a partial clinical hold on an early-stage study of its experimental cancer drug. The drug, an antibody-drug conjugate (ADC), was being studied in a trial sponsored by China-based MediLink, in patients with types of non-small cell lung cancer or breast cancer who have received prior forms of treatment.

Ukrainian children abducted by Russia left with psychological scars, campaigners say

Russia's abduction of Ukrainian children is an attempt to steal the country's future and has left the youngsters with deep psychological scars, campaigners from Ukraine said on Saturday as they called for international efforts to bring them home. Kyiv says about 20,000 children have been taken to Russia or Russian-occupied territory without the consent of family or guardians since the war began, calling the abductions a war crime that meets the U.N. treaty definition of genocide.

Takeda's seizure drug fails to meet main goal in late-stage studies

Japanese drugmaker Takeda said on Monday its experimental drug being tested for two epileptic disorders failed to reduce frequency of seizures in patients across late-stage studies. The drug, soticlestat, was being tested in combination with standard-of-care treatment in adults and children with Dravet syndrome (DS) and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) - rare and severe forms of epilepsy characterized by frequent, prolonged seizures that typically manifest in infancy or early childhood.

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

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