Reuters Health News Summary

Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

Bill Gates urges Afghanistan and Pakistan to 'get to zero' in polio fight

Local Afghan Taliban leaders are hindering global efforts to end polio, but Afghanistan and Pakistan must continue their fight to "get to zero" cases, the philanthropist Bill Gates said on Monday. In a telephone interview with Reuters, Gates was optimistic about the global plan to eradicate the paralyzing viral disease, but said Afghanistan's conflict and power struggles hamper progress.

Bayer, J&J settle U.S. Xarelto litigation for $775 million

Bayer AG and Johnson & Johnson have agreed to settle more than 25,000 U.S. lawsuits over their blockbuster blood thinner Xarelto for a total of $775 million, court documents on Monday showed. The amount will be shared equally between the two companies that jointly developed the drug. Bayer and J&J do not admit liability under the agreement.

Obamacare enrollments drop marginally for 2019

Enrollments in healthcare plans for 2019 through the Federal Obamacare marketplace dropped marginally by 300,000 from last year, according to U.S. government figures released on Monday. The decrease in plan selections could likely be due to lower demand for exchange coverage, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) said.

OxyContin maker Purdue agrees to settle Oklahoma opioid case, source says

Purdue Pharma LP has agreed to settle a lawsuit by the state of Oklahoma accusing the maker of painkiller OxyContin of helping fuel an opioid abuse epidemic, a person familiar with the matter said on Tuesday. The settlement is the first stemming from a wave of recent lawsuits over the drugmaker's marketing of painkillers.

California avocados voluntarily recalled for possible health risk

A California avocado grower and distributor has voluntarily recalled its product from six states due to concerns about possible contamination with Listeria, bacteria that can cause severe illness in some people. No illnesses associated with the recall have been reported, the Henry Avocado Corporation said in its recall notice on Saturday, adding the measure was taken "out of an abundance of caution."

Women diagnosed years later than men for same diseases

(Reuters Health) - For a wide range of diseases, diagnosis comes later in life for women than for men, according to a large Danish study. Researchers don't know whether the later diagnoses are due to genetics, the environment, possible biases in the healthcare system - or some combination of reasons.

Aldeyra's eye drug meets main goal in late-stage study, shares surge

Aldeyra Therapeutics Inc said on Tuesday its drug reproxalap to treat a form of allergic reaction to the eye met the main goal in a late-stage trial, sending shares up more than 60 percent. The study tested two doses of the drug in 318 patients with seasonal allergic conjunctivitis, an allergic reaction to substances such as pollen or spores causing eye inflammation.

Tiniest U.S. preemies more likely to end up in lower-quality NICU if they're black

(Reuters Health) - In a large national study that included nearly 90 percent of all preterm and low-birth-weight babies born in the U.S. in a recent three-year period, researchers found that black infants were more likely than white infants to receive care in a lower-scoring neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). The hospital's quality of care is directly related to deaths and complications in newborns, said study coauthor Erika Edwards of the University of Vermont. Complications commonly seen in premature babies can have lifelong consequences. For example, she said, "Chronic lung disease is related to asthma which is already an issue in minority populations. And brain injury can cause developmental delays."

Mozambique prepares for cholera after cyclone wreaks havoc

Rescue teams in Mozambique moved hundreds of people displaced by Cyclone Idai's massive and deadly flooding to safer shelters on Monday, while the government made preparations for a cholera outbreak that it says is inevitable amid the devastation. In areas west of the port city of Beira, hundreds of people were trapped for more than a week after Idai hit, surviving in vast tracts of submerged land with no access to clean water and shrinking food supplies.

Oklahoma top court clears way for Purdue, J&J, Teva to face opioid trial

Oklahoma's top court on Monday declined to delay a landmark trial set for May in a multibillion-dollar lawsuit accusing OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma LP and two other drugmakers of helping fuel an opioid abuse and overdose epidemic in the state. The Oklahoma Supreme Court's decision was a win for the state's attorney general, whose case is set to be the first to face trial of roughly 2,000 lawsuits nationally seeking to hold opioid manufacturers responsible for contributing to the epidemic.