Reuters Health News Summary

Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

Samoa declares state of emergency as measles spreads across Pacific

Samoa declared a state of emergency this weekend, closing all schools and cracking down on public gatherings, after several deaths linked to a measles outbreak that has spread across the Pacific islands. The island state of just 200,000, south of the equator and half way between Hawaii and New Zealand, declared a measles epidemic late in October after the first deaths were reported.

Trump says U.S. states will be able to buy prescription drugs abroad

President Donald Trump said on Friday he would be giving U.S. states the right to buy prescription drugs from other countries, as part of a bid to boost consumer access to cheaper medicines. "I'm going to be giving governors the right very shortly to buy ... their prescription drugs from other countries," Trump said at a White House event accompanied by Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar, among other officials.

Smokers who switch to vaping rapidly boost heart health in trial

Chronic smokers who switched from tobacco cigarettes to e-cigarette vapes in a large randomized control trial saw a significant improvement in markers of heart health after just a month, researchers said on Friday. In study results likely to be closely scrutinized by health specialists worldwide, British scientists found that cigarette smokers who switched to nicotine-containing vapes saw a marked boost to their vascular function - a change that could lead to a significantly lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

Stents no better than drugs for many heart patients: U.S. study

Many patients with severe but stable heart disease who routinely undergo invasive procedures to clear and prop open clogged arteries would do as well by just taking medications and making lifestyle changes, U.S. researchers reported on Saturday. If adopted into practice, the findings could save hundreds of millions of dollars a year in healthcare costs, researchers said.

Despite safety guidelines, too many kids get hurt by lawnmowers

(Reuters Health) - Many children are injured by lawnmowers despite safety guidelines in place to prevent these accidents, and kids in rural communities are most at risk, a U.S. study suggests. Researchers examined data on 1,302 lawnmower injuries in children 1 to 18 years old from 2005 to 2017. In cities, 1.47 kids out of every 100,000 sustained lawnmower injuries, compared to 4.26 kids out of every 100,000 in rural areas, the study found.

Novartis sickle-cell drug gets U.S. FDA approval

Novartis AG on Friday won U.S. approval for its experimental sickle cell disease drug, Adakveo, making it the first of several proposed new therapies designed to offer lasting relief for patients with the debilitating blood disease to get U.S. regulatory clearance. The drug will be priced between $84,852 and $113,136 per year for most patients, who will be infused by a healthcare provider with between three and four vials each month, Novartis said.

GSK sees breakthrough in shingles vaccine output in 2024

GlaxoSmithKline said further growth from its shingles vaccine, which has boosted earnings, would be reined in by limited capacity until 2024, but a new bioreactor facility would then be ready to bring a step change in production. GSK, Britain's largest drugmaker, had originally envisaged a gradual launch in the United States, its biggest market, but regulators unexpectedly recommended Shingrix not only for people reaching the age of 50 but also to replace an established product.

BeiGene prices lymphoma drug at $12,935 for a 30-day supply

China-based drugmaker BeiGene Ltd on Friday priced its drug, Brukinsa, to treat a rare form of lymphoma at $12,935 for a 30-day supply. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday approved the drug, giving a boost to the company's strategy of largely using data from studies held outside the United States.

Roche buys U.S. drugmaker Promedior for up to $1.4 billion to get lung drug

Swiss drugmaker Roche is paying up to $1.4 billion to buy U.S. biotech company Promedior, whose main drug candidate against the lung disease idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is set to begin late-stage trials, Promedior said on Friday. The deal includes a payment of $390 million, plus the potential for $1 billion more if conditions are met. Promedior's lead asset PRM-151 is being studied in IPF where the firm said it helped improve lung function, on top of current therapies.

Oklahoma judge reduces Johnson & Johnson opioid payout to $465 million

An Oklahoma judge on Friday said Johnson & Johnson must pay that state $465 million for fueling the opioid epidemic through the deceptive marketing of painkillers, down from his original award of $572 million. The decision by Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman in Norman, Oklahoma, came in the first case to go to trial out of 2,700 nationally by states, counties and cities seeking to hold drug companies responsible for the deadly epidemic.