Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
New York doctor convicted of taking kickbacks from opioid maker Insys
A New York doctor was convicted on Thursday of accepting thousands of dollars in bribes and kickbacks from Insys Therapeutics Inc in exchange for prescribing his patients an addictive fentanyl spray the drug manufacturer produced. Gordon Freedman was the fourth medical practitioner to face trial on charges stemming from what prosecutors say was a wide-ranging bribery scheme orchestrated by the now-bankrupt drugmaker that helped fuel the U.S. opioid epidemic.
Rural hospital acquisitions may reduce patient services
Although hospitals can improve financially when they join larger health systems, the merger may also reduce access to services for patients in rural areas, according to a new study. After an affiliation, rural hospitals are more likely to lose onsite imaging and obstetric and primary care services, researchers report in a special issue of the journal Health Affairs devoted to rural health issues in the United States.
Hairdressers' skin damaged by hair dyes
Hairdressers may have skin damage from a hair dye ingredient even when they don't have dermatitis, or rashes, from this exposure, a small lab experiment suggests. The chemical, p-phenylenediamine (PPD), "is a strong contact allergen used in hair dye known to cause allergic contact dermatitis," Dr. Cezmi Akdis, of the Swiss Institute of Allergy and Asthma Research in Davos Platz, and colleagues write in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
U.S. health spending recovers after two slow years: CMS
U.S. healthcare spending recovered in 2018 after two consecutive years of decline, a government health agency reported on Thursday. The total national health expenditures last year grew 4.6% to $3.6 trillion, or $11,172 per person, boosted by faster growth in private health insurance and government-sponsored health insurance programs, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) said.
WHO decries 'collective failure' as measles kills 140,000
By Kate Kelland, Health and Science Correspondent Measles infected nearly 10 million people in 2018 and killed 140,000, mostly children, as devastating outbreaks of the viral disease hit every region of the world, the World Health Organization said on Thursday.
U.S. FDA approves generic versions of Novartis blockbuster MS treatment
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday approved three generic versions of Swiss drugmaker Novartis AG's top-selling multiple sclerosis (MS) medicine Gilenya. The approval allows HEC Pharm Co Ltd, Biocon Ltd and Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd to produce the drug for the treatment of relapsing forms of MS in adult patients.
FDA probes diabetes drug metformin for carcinogen NDMA
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is investigating whether the diabetes drug metformin had unsafe levels of a cancer-causing chemical and will recommend recalls as appropriate, the agency said on Thursday. The move is part of the agency's broader push to investigate a range of drugs for the presence of the carcinogen, known as N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), with popular heartburn medication Zantac being recalled this year for fear it contained NDMA.
Many doctors in training may skip routine health care
Trainee doctors often miss out on routine medical care and preventive health services even when they take daily prescriptions, a small study suggests. Researchers surveyed 299 residents at 20 teaching hospitals in New England about their physical and mental health. Participants were 31 years old, on average, and 35% reported having no routine place for medical care, the study found.
U.S. vaping-related deaths rise to 48, cases of illness to 2,291
U.S. health officials on Thursday reported one new case and one more death from a respiratory illness tied to vaping over a two-week period, taking the total death toll to 48. As of Dec. 4, 2019, there were 2,291 hospitalized cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from 50 states, the District of Columbia, and two U.S. territories. There are more deaths under investigation, health officials said.
Biogen builds case for its Alzheimer's drug, skeptics say more data needed
Biogen Inc on Thursday laid out more data on its experimental Alzheimer's drug that raised no major safety alarms but also offered little compelling evidence the drug, once declared a failure, actually works. Experts had been watching closely for any statistical abnormalities or excess safety issues that would affect how the drug is reviewed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). If approved, aducanumab would be the first treatment designed to delay progression of the fatal, mind-robbing disease for millions of patients.