Health News Roundup: Pfizer pledge for more equal access to RSV shot faces hurdles; US FDA approves Pfizer’s next-generation pneumococcal vaccine and more
Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
Pfizer pledge for more equal access to RSV shot faces hurdles
Pfizer Inc has pledged to deliver critical new medicines more quickly in low-income nations, but its first such vaccine effort faces hurdles likely to delay distribution in poorer countries by several years, global health officials told Reuters. Pfizer made a commitment on more equitable access last year, following criticism that it prioritized wealthy nations for doses of its COVID-19 shot early in the pandemic. The company says it wants to shorten a timeline in which poorer countries often get vaccines many years after they are available elsewhere.
US FDA approves Pfizer’s next-generation pneumococcal vaccine
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Pfizer Inc’s next-generation vaccine to prevent pneumococcal disease in children aged six weeks to 17 years, the company said late on Thursday. The vaccine, Prevnar 20, offers more protection against the disease versus the company’s widely-used Prevnar 13 vaccine, by targeting seven more serotypes of the streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria that causes those infections.
Denmark’s largest health insurer drops weight-loss drug coverage as demand soars
Denmark’s largest private health insurer Sygeforsikring Danmark, which insures roughly half the country’s population, will stop reimbursing weight loss medication from January next year due to high demand, it said on Friday. The growing popularity of costly new weight-loss drugs has prompted insurers and health authorities to reconsider whether they can subsidise anti-obesity medications, particularly since lifetime use might be required to keep lost weight off.
Indian cough syrup: mystery middleman may be new clue
An unnamed middleman in Mumbai provided a crucial raw material used in Indian-made cough syrups that have been linked to the deaths of more than 70 children in Gambia, a chemicals trader involved in the supply chain told Reuters. The World Health Organization said last year the syrups, made by Indian manufacturer Maiden Pharmaceuticals Ltd, contained lethal toxins ethylene glycol (EG) and diethylene glycol (DEG) – used in car brake fluid. These ingredients can be used by unscrupulous actors as a substitute for propylene glycol (PG), which is a key base of syrupy medicines – because they can cost less than half the price, as Reuters reported in March.
Judge declines to block Colorado from banning medication abortion reversal
A federal judge in Denver on Friday rejected a Catholic medical center’s bid to block Colorado from banning an unproven treatment meant to reverse the effects of a medication abortion drug. U.S. District Judge Daniel Domenico said there was no need to block the first-of-its-kind ban because the state has said it will not enforce it for now, meaning that the center, Bella Health and Wellness, is not under any immediate threat. He did not address the merits of the case.
US FDA panel backs restricted use of AstraZeneca’s prostate cancer drug
A panel of U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisers on Friday voted for the restricted use of British drugmaker AztraZeneca Plc’s experimental treatment, jointly developed with Merck & Co, for a type of prostate cancer. The FDA panel voted 11-1 with one abstention, in favor of Lynparza, in combination with other medications – abiraterone and prednisone or prednisolone – as a first-line treatment for a type of treatment-resistant prostate cancer in adult patients.
Vermont, Washington take steps to protect access to abortion pills
The states of Vermont and Washington took steps on Thursday to protect the availability of medication abortions in the event that a lawsuit challenging federal approval for a commonly used abortion drug prevails in court. A series of bills were either passed or signed in the two states days after the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily paused implementation of lower court rulings that would have either removed Food and Drug Administration approval for the abortion drug mifepristone, or restricted its use.
China weighs giving single women IVF access to stem population decline
As China tries to slow its demographic decline, women like Chen Luojin could be part of the solution. The divorced 33-year-old lives in Chengdu, capital of the southwestern Sichuan province, which legalised registration of children by unmarried women in February, something China is considering implementing nationwide to address record low birth rates.
Women state senators cross party lines to block proposed South Carolina abortion ban
A day after all five women in the South Carolina state senate banded together to block a proposed abortion ban, Republican Senator Sandy Senn posted a picture of the group on her Facebook page calling the three Republicans, one Democrat and one Independent “united and unstoppable.” The senators came together across parties on Thursday to force any discussion of the near-total ban into 2024, their success the latest indication that not all Republicans agree with the strictest abortion bans.
(With inputs from agencies.)