Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
Aspen's drug to prevent preterm birth approved by FDA
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Aspen Pharmacare's hydroxyprogesterone caproate (HPC), which is used to prevent preterm birth in pregnant women, the South African drugmaker's CEO said on Thursday. Aspen, which operates in about 56 countries, has said before that it views the United States as presenting targeted growth opportunities for its niche women's health products such as conjugated estrogens, which is used in menopausal hormone therapy.
Reuters asks judge to release secret Propecia documents
Reuters asked a U.S. judge on Thursday to unseal documents filed in court regarding potential risks associated with Propecia, Merck & Co's popular baldness drug. The motion was filed in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, after a Reuters article on Wednesday revealed accusations that Merck did not fully disclose on Propecia's label the incidence and duration of sexual dysfunction in men who took Propecia in clinical trials. Those allegations are contained in court filings that had been intended to be filed under seal. Read the Reuters report https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/usa-courts-secrecy-propecia
Indonesia to raise cigarette prices by more than a third at start of 2020
Indonesia will raise the minimum price of cigarettes by more than a third from January next year, a finance ministry spokesman said on Friday, as part of the government's efforts to reduce smoking rates. Nearly 70% of adult men smoke in Indonesia, according to the World Health Organization - one of the highest rates in the world - and tobacco kills 225,720 people each year in the country or 14.7% of all deaths, mostly through cardiovascular diseases, the WHO said in a 2018 report.
Kenya becomes third African nation to introduce world's first malaria vaccine
Kenya on Friday added the world's first malaria vaccine to the routine immunization schedule for children under two, becoming the third country in Africa to roll out the vaccine for the disease that kills one child globally every two minutes. Malaria is a top killer of children under five in the East African nation, and the vaccine is critically important to its efforts to combat the disease because other measures such as mosquito nets have not proven adequate, the director-general of Kenya's health ministry, Wekesa Masasabi, told Reuters.
Thais allowed six cannabis plants per household under draft law
A party in Thailand's ruling coalition has proposed a draft law that would allow Thais to grow a limited amount of cannabis at home, less than a year after the country legalized the drug for medicinal purposes and research. Under Thailand's current drug laws, recreational users of cannabis can incur tough penalties, including up to 10 years in prison for possession and hefty fines.
Novartis's investigational multiple sclerosis drug ofatumumab cut the relapse rate inpatients by more than half in trials comparing it to Sanofi's Aubagio as the Swiss drugmaker aims to refresh its portfolio of medicines in neurological diseases. Patients getting ofatumumab had an annualized relapse rate that corresponded to a reduction of 50.5% in one study and 58.8% in another, Novartis said in a statement on Friday. While Novartis's study compared its medicine with Sanofi's, the Basel-based company is hoping ofatumumab will challenge Roche's star MS drug Ocrevus.
New Jersey expected to announce vaping restrictions within weeks
Within weeks, New Jersey could become the latest state to restrict e-cigarette use, with the governor on Thursday launching a task force to find ways to curb vaping, linked by U.S. health officials to hundreds of respiratory illnesses and a half-dozen deaths. "As of this moment, there is no safe vape," Governor Phil Murphy said at a media briefing, adding he was concerned about both teen use and the recent illnesses. "The only safe alternative to smoking is not smoking."
Biogen scraps two late-stage Alzheimer's trials
Biogen Inc and partner Eisai Co Ltd said on Friday they would abandon two late-stage trials testing experimental Alzheimer's treatment elenbecestat, months after scrapping trials of another drug for the memory-robbing disease. The companies said the decision was based on the results of a review conducted by a data safety monitoring board, which recommended discontinuing the trials as the treatment's benefits did not outweigh its risks.
U.S. cuts vaping-related illness total under refined case definition
U.S. health officials on Thursday cut the number of lung illnesses linked to e-cigarettes and vaping products under investigation to 380 as states began assessing patients based on a narrower case definition issued late last month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The revised total now only includes confirmed and probable cases. The CDC had previously reported it was investigating more than 450 "possible" cases in the multistate-outbreak of the mysterious lung illness.
Russia plans excise taxes on e-cigarettes - media
Russia's healthcare ministry has drafted a bill to introduce excise taxes on electronic cigarettes, Russian news agencies reported on Friday, citing minister Veronika Skvortsova. Russia in the past decade has tightened tobacco sales regulations as part of a wider campaign to reduce smoking.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)