Reuters Health News Summary

Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

Dutch government moves to ban laughing gas

The Dutch government on Monday announced plans to include nitrous oxide -- better known as laughing gas -- on its "black list" of forbidden drugs, in response to a rapid increase in usage of the gas among the nation's youth. In a letter to parliament Deputy Health Minister Paul Blockhuis said "recreational use of laughing gas has become a drugs problem, and therefore the Opium Law is the right route to tackle this."

U.S. Supreme Court leaves in place Kentucky abortion restriction

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday left in place a Kentucky restriction requiring doctors to show and describe ultrasound images to women seeking an abortion, turning away a challenge arguing that the measure violates the free speech rights of physicians. The justices declined without comment to hear an appeal by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of a lower court ruling that upheld the law after a federal judge previously had struck it down as a violation of the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment guarantee of free speech.

Air pollution tied to hospitalizations for wide range of illnesses

(Reuters Health) - Older adults who are exposed to tiny particles in air pollution for just a day or two are more likely to be hospitalized for a wide variety of common health problems, a U.S. study suggests. Researchers focused on so-called PM 2.5, a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter that can include dust, dirt, soot and smoke. They confirmed previously-known links between short-term exposure to PM 2.5 and an increased risk of hospitalization and death from heart and lung diseases, diabetes, and clots in the large veins of the legs. They also found new links between short-term exposure and increased hospitalizations for conditions ranging from sepsis to kidney failure.

Bluebird bio, Bristol-Myers' multiple myeloma therapy shows promise in early study

Bluebird bio Inc and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co on Monday reported encouraging initial data from an ongoing early-stage study testing their experimental therapy for multiple myeloma in patients who did not respond to prior treatments. The lowest dose of the therapy, bb21217, had a median duration of response of 11.1 months and an overall response rate of 83% in heavily pre-treated patients with at least three prior lines of therapy, according to data presented at the American Society of Hematology Conference.

Sanofi ends research in diabetes, narrows units to spur profit

Sanofi SA said on Monday it would end its research efforts in diabetes and cardiovascular diseases as part of a revamp that will narrow the number of its business units in the hope of bolstering growth and profit. The French drugmaker, whose pipeline has disappointed investors in recent years, poached new chief executive Paul Hudson from Swiss pharma group Novartis in September to revitalize the company.

J&J CEO spurns U.S. congressional hearing on carcinogens in talc products

Johnson & Johnson Chief Executive Officer Alex Gorsky has declined to appear at a U.S. congressional hearing set for Tuesday on the safety of the company's Baby Powder and other talc-based cosmetics. In an announcement, the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy said that its efforts to persuade Gorsky to testify included "repeated attempts to accommodate the company" over nearly a month.

Caring alone for two small girls, Texas father grapples with loss

Zak Tiemann picked up his daughters from school early this Halloween. Zayleeana, 3, and Zoey, 5, were beaming with excitement as they donned their "Frozen" costumes and went trick-or-treating in their small hometown of Seguin, Texas. But for their 34-year old father family occasions have been bittersweet. The girls' mother, Amanda Garcia, died three years ago just days after giving birth to Zayleeana. She was 26 years old.

France to ban dozens of glyphosate weedkillers amid health risk debate

France's health and environment agency said on Monday it was banning dozens of glyphosate-based weedkillers, most of the volume of such products sold in France, ruling there was insufficient data to exclude health risks. The ANSES agency was withdrawing the marketing license for 36 products which would no longer be authorized for use after the end of next year, it said in a statement.

U.S. Supreme Court rejects Arizona opioid case against Purdue, Sackler family

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday turned away a novel case by Arizona seeking to recover billions of dollars that the state has said that members of the Sackler family - owners of Purdue Pharma LP - funneled out of the OxyContin maker before the company filed for bankruptcy in September. The justices declined to take the rare step of allowing Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich to pursue a case directly with the Supreme Court on the role the drugmaker played in the U.S. opioid epidemic that has killed tens of thousands of Americans annually in recent years.

U.S. kids not getting measles shots before international travel

Even with measles outbreaks common in many parts of the world, doctors and parents are often not opting to have children vaccinated before international travel, a new study suggests. Nearly 60% of children who could have benefited from the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccination did not get it during pre-travel doctor's appointments, researchers found.

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