Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
Roche wins FDA approval for immunotherapy cocktail against lung cancer
Roche's Tecentriq immunotherapy mixed with chemotherapy won U.S. approval as an initial treatment for a form of lung cancer as the Swiss drugmaker seeks to establish its alternative to drugs from Merck and Bristol-Myers Squibb. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Tecentriq mixed with Celgene's Abraxane and carboplatin chemotherapy to treat metastatic non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with no EGFR or ALK genomic tumor aberrations, Roche said on Wednesday.
India asks states to halt online drug sales
India's drugs regulator has asked all states to enforce a court directive prohibiting online medicine sales, a senior government official said on Wednesday, raising industry concerns it could disrupt some online businesses. India is yet to finalize regulations for online drug sales, or e-pharmacies, but the growth of several online sellers such as Medlife, Netmeds, Temasek-backed PharmEasy and Sequoia Capital-backed 1mg has threatened traditional drug-store businesses.
Powder Keg: FDA bowed to industry for decades as alarms were sounded over talc
At an invitation-only gathering late last year, U.S. regulators and their guests huddled at a hotel near Washington, D.C., to discuss the best way to detect cancer-causing asbestos in talc powders and cosmetics. The “Asbestos in Talc Symposium,” sponsored by the Food and Drug Administration, was dominated by industry hands: Most of the 21 non-government participants had done work for talc companies, such as testing and serving as expert witnesses and consultants, symposium documents and other records show.
Fiji to postpone sports contests as it battles measles outbreak
Fiji has asked its sports federations to postpone all competitions until January, in a bid to rein in the spread of a measles outbreak that has killed dozens in the neighboring Pacific nation of Samoa. The highly infectious disease has been crossing the globe, recently finding a susceptible population in Samoa, where the official death toll was 53 on Monday.
Pharmacy benefits manager Abarca inks discount deal for Amgen's Enbrel
Abarca, a small Puerto Rico-based pharmacy benefits manager, said on Tuesday Amgen Inc had agreed to give its health insurer clients an additional discount on its blockbuster rheumatoid arthritis drug Enbrel, if patients discontinue taking it after three months. Pharmacy benefits managers like Abarca act as middlemen in the drug supply chain, and negotiate discounts on drugs on behalf of health insurers. Depending on the discounts drugmakers are willing to provide, pharmacy benefits managers make decisions about which drugs to include in coverage plans.
U.S. regions hard hit by opioids to ditch class action, pursue own lawsuits
Local governments in regions hard hit by the U.S. opioid epidemic have opted out of massive litigation taking aim at the drug industry over the crisis, potentially weakening a novel legal mechanism created to help settle thousands of lawsuits. Overall, 98% of some 34,000 local governments agreed to be bound by a class action against companies such as drug distributor McKesson Corp, drugmaker Johnson & Johnson and pharmacy chain Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc, according to a Monday court filing.
Malaria fight stalling at 'unacceptably high level' of deaths: WHO
Malaria still infects millions of people every year and kills more than 400,000 - mostly children in Africa - because the fight against the mosquito-borne disease has stalled, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday. Funding for the global battle against malaria - which kills a child every 2 minutes - is broadly flat, the WHO warned, and because of ongoing transmission via mosquitoes, half the world's population is still at risk of contracting the disease.
Climate change hits health, yet funds lacking: WHO
Climate change is harming human health as more people suffer from heat stress, extreme weather and mosquito-borne diseases including malaria, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday. The U.N. agency, in a report issued a day after a climate summit began in Madrid, urged governments to meet ambitious targets to reduce heat-trapping carbon emissions saying it could save a million lives a year through lower air pollution alone.
Asthma attacks in pregnancy tied to complications for mothers, babies
Asthma attacks during pregnancy are associated with an increased risk of complications for mothers and their babies, a Canadian study suggests. Researchers examined data on more than 103,000 pregnancies among more than 58,000 women with asthma who had babies in Ontario, Canada, from 2003 to 2012.
Johnson & Johnson says new tests show no asbestos in Johnson's Baby Powder
Johnson & Johnson said on Tuesday that recent tests showed that Johnson's Baby Powder was free of asbestos, after U.S. Food and Drug Administration investigations reported trace amounts of the material in the product earlier this year. A total of 155 tests were conducted by two different third-party labs using four different testing methods on samples from the same bottle tested by the FDA's contracted lab, the company said.