Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
Surgical training programs not supportive of new parents
Surgical residents say it's tough to have children during their five years of intensive training due to a lack of flexibility in program requirements and lack of support from peers and faculty. Based on a survey of U.S. trainee surgeons, or residents, researchers conclude in JAMA Surgery that national and institutional changes in parental leave policies could help trainees start families sooner.
U.S. lawmakers push Mylan, Teva over drug pricing probe
The head of the U.S. House of Representative's oversight panel on Wednesday called on three drugmakers to turn over documents as part of an ongoing congressional review over generic drug price increases and accused the companies of "apparent efforts to stonewall" the probe. U.S. House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings, along with U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, the ranking member on the Senate Budget Committee, sent the letters to Mylan NV, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd and privately held Heritage Pharmaceuticals, the lawmakers said in a statement.
U.S. FDA proposes graphic warnings on cigarette packs, advertisements
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has proposed that cigarette packs carry graphic new health warnings including pictures and text outlining lesser-known risks of smoking like bladder cancer and diabetes as well as lung cancer. The FDA said the proposed changes, which also drastically increase the size of the warnings, could be the most significant to cigarette labels in more than 35 years.
Furniture flame retardants may not stifle deadliest home fires
Targeting the flammability of smoking materials like cigarettes, pipes and cigars, rather than fireproofing all furniture with hazardous chemicals, may be a more effective way of reducing the most deadly residential fires, a U.S. study concludes. Although fires that start on furniture account for only 2.2% of residential fires, they carry significantly higher odds than others for injury and death, researchers report in the American Journal of Public Health. And among these furniture fires, those ignited by smoking materials are 3.4 times more likely to be lethal than those caused by open flames like candles.
Novartis replaces top scientists at Avexis after drug data manipulated
Novartis AG said on Wednesday it replaced the two top research and development executives at its Avexis unit after some data was manipulated from early testing of a gene therapy for infants that costs more than $2 million. Avexis' Chief Scientific Officer Brian Kaspar and Senior Vice President of Research and Development Allan Kaspar have not been involved in any operations at Avexis since early May 2019, Novartis said in a statement.
Genetic study implicates humans in demise of prehistoric cave bear
Genetic research that reconstructed the past population dynamics of the cave bear, a prominent prehistoric denizen of Europe, implicates Homo sapiens rather than climate cooling in the Ice Age extinction of these brawny plant-loving beasts. Scientists said on Thursday they obtained genome data from 59 cave bears from bones unearthed at 14 sites in France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Serbia, Spain and Switzerland.
Burundi starts Ebola vaccines for health workers: WHO
Burundi has started vaccinating its health workers against Ebola, beginning with those near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday. Burundi has had no reported cases of the deadly haemorrhagic fever, but the viral disease has been spreading in eastern Congo since August 2018 in an epidemic that has now killed at least 1,800 people. Efforts to control the outbreak have been hampered by militia violence and some local resistance to outside help.
Roche's personalized cancer treatment wins FDA approval
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Roche Holding AG's treatment for adult and adolescent patients whose cancers have a genetic defect, the agency said on Thursday. The treatment, Rozlytrek, is a tyrosine kinase inhibitor that targets patients who must be identified via genetic profiling. The treatment is used to treat certain types of solid tumors and a type of lung cancer.
Thailand to ban pig imports from Myanmar over African swine fever
Thailand will ban the import of pigs from Myanmar for 90 days, the country's livestock department told Reuters on Thursday, after the neighboring country confirmed its first case of the African swine fever this week. The ban, expected to start next week, would cover live pigs and wild boars as well as carcasses from Myanmar, to prevent the disease from spreading into Thailand.
Mexico's top court demands regulation on medical marijuana after long delays
Mexico's supreme court ordered the health ministry on Wednesday to issue regulation within six months on medical marijuana use, saying its failure to do so after legalization in 2017 had put rights at risk for patients, including children. The court made the decision as part of its ruling in favor of a child who needed medication derived from cannabis substance THC to treat epilepsy.