Reuters Health News Summary

Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

Doctor, medical funder charged in New York in transvaginal mesh fraud

A doctor and a surgical funding consultant were arrested on Friday on charges that they defrauded women into having unnecessary surgeries to remove transvaginal mesh implants in order to profit from settlements paid to the women by mesh manufacturers, U.S. prosecutors in New York said. Urogynecologist Christopher Walker, 49, of Florida, and Wesley Barber, 49, of Michigan, were both charged with wire fraud and conspiracy in an indictment unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn.

U.S. health agency proposes reversing Obamacare transgender protections

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on Friday proposed a rule that would roll back protections for transgender patients under Obamacare, the second rule this month the agency has put forward to allow health care providers to deny services to them. The landmark Affordable Care Act passed during the Obama administration, otherwise known as Obamacare, extended civil rights protections in healthcare to gender identity and the termination of a pregnancy. The agency's Office of Civil Rights said it posted a proposed rule to roll back those provisions of the law.

Groups sue over Alabama abortion law; judge blocks Mississippi ban

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit on Friday challenging a law enacted by Alabama last week that bans nearly all abortions and makes performing the procedure a felony punishable by up to 99 years in prison. The lawsuit is one of several the groups have filed or are preparing to file against states that recently passed strict anti-abortion measures in an effort to prompt the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark case that guarantees a woman's constitutional right to abortion.

Oklahoma takes on drugmakers J&J, Teva in landmark opioid trial

Gail Box vividly remembers the day in May 2011 when she first learned her 22-year-old son Austin, a University of Oklahoma linebacker, was abusing opioid painkillers: It was the day he died of an overdose. In a few months he had gone from taking pills prescribed for a back injury to illicitly obtaining more of the addictive drugs from acquaintances.

Women in cardiac arrest less likely than men to get help from bystanders

Women who suffer cardiac arrest outside of a hospital are less likely to receive help from bystanders and have less chance of survival than men, a recent Dutch study showed. The results align with what a separate study found in the United States last year: men had an increased likelihood of receiving bystander support and greater chances of survival than women.

Big drug distributor pays $22 million to settle U.S. opioid charges

Morris & Dickson Co, one of the largest U.S. wholesale drug distributors, agreed to pay $22 million in civil penalties to settle U.S. government charges that it failed to report thousands of suspicious orders of the opioids hydrocodone and oxycodone. The U.S. Department of Justice said on Friday that the Shreveport, Louisiana-based company will also spend millions of dollars to hire staff and upgrade oversight to help comply with federal regulations requiring that orders be properly reported.

Novartis' breast cancer treatment wins FDA approval

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said on Friday that it had approved Novartis AG's treatment in combination with a hormone therapy for postmenopausal women, as well as for men, with a form of advanced breast cancer. The drug, alpelisib, to be marketed under the brand name Piqray, belongs to a class of drugs known as PI3K inhibitors and is the first of its kind to be approved, the FDA said in a statement.

Novartis $2 million gene therapy for rare disorder is world's most expensive drug

Swiss drugmaker Novartis on Friday won U.S. approval for its gene therapy Zolgensma for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), the leading genetic cause of death in infants, and priced the one-time treatment at a record $2.125 million. The Food and Drug Administration approved Zolgensma for children under the age of two with SMA, including those not yet showing symptoms. The approval covers babies with the deadliest form of the inherited disease as well as those with types where debilitating symptoms may set in later.

Seniors who feel their life has purpose may live longer

Seniors who feel their life has purpose may be less likely to die from heart, circulatory and digestive diseases and more likely to live longer, new data suggest. In a study that followed nearly 7,000 people over age 50 for more than a decade, researchers determined that people were more likely to die at a younger age if they felt their lives had little purpose, according to the report published in JAMA Network Open.

Mexico budget cuts hit patient care and delay kids' surgeries, doctors warn

Mexico's hospitals are reeling under steep budget cuts by the country's new government, with surgery delays for children, reductions in testing and staffing shortages, hospital directors said on Friday, fanning anger over President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's austerity measures. In its first budget in December, the government slashed the budget from several ministries as it sought to centralize spending and fight public sector corruption. It was also eager to honor a campaign pledge to run a tight budget.

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