Seasonal flu kills more globally than previously thought: U.S. study

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As many as 646,000 people are dying globally from seasonal influenza each year, U.S. health officials said on Wednesday, a rise from earlier assessments of the disease's death toll. Global death rates from seasonal influenza are likely between 291,000 and 646,000 people each year, depending on the severity of the circulating flu strain, they said.

U.S. study sheds light on how Zika causes nerve disorder

A new study sheds light on how the mosquito-borne Zika virus causes a rare neurological condition, and the findings could have implications for companies working on Zika vaccines, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday. The Zika outbreak that swept through the Americas in 2015 and 2016 showed the virus could, in rare cases, cause Guillain-Barre, an autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks itself in the aftermath of an infection.

Irish parliament committee backs referendum on abortion up to 12 weeks
 
An Irish parliamentary committee on Wednesday recommended that an abortion referendum due next year should offer the choice of allowing terminations with no restrictions up to 12 weeks into a pregnancy, a more liberal position than some had anticipated. The cross-party committee's recommendations are not binding and the final wording of the planned referendum to change some of the world's strictest abortion laws will be down to the government and require the support of parliament.

Revance will wait to seek backing for Botox-rival

Revance Therapeutics Inc will wait to seek partnerships with bigger drugmakers until it is closer to regulatory approval for its Botox rival treatment, Chief Executive Dan Browne told Reuters in an interview. The California-based drug developer shook the aesthetic industry last week by reporting data that showed its drug RT002  reduced the severity of frown lines for about six months, almost double the 3-4 months Botox and other treatments achieve.
 
Novartis generics arm says may sell or end some products

Swiss drugmaker Novartis's Sandoz generics business is in the process of selling or closing some products in the United States, it said on Wednesday. "In response to high price pressure, we are optimizing our U.S. portfolio. This includes the sale or discontinuation of certain non-core products and concentration of investment in strategic areas that will drive growth and improve access," it said in a statement in response to a report by the Swiss newspaper Handelszeitung.

U.S. appeals court vacates conviction of drug distributor over Botox Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

Seasonal flu kills more globally than previously thought: U.S. study

As many as 646,000 people are dying globally from seasonal influenza each year, U.S. health officials said on Wednesday, a rise from earlier assessments of the disease's death toll. Global death rates from seasonal influenza are likely between 291,000 and 646,000 people each year, depending on the severity of the circulating flu strain, they said.
 
U.S. study sheds light on how Zika causes nerve disorder

A new study sheds light on how the mosquito-borne Zika virus causes a rare neurological condition, and the findings could have implications for companies working on Zika vaccines, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday. The Zika outbreak that swept through the Americas in 2015 and 2016 showed the virus could, in rare cases, cause Guillain-Barre, an autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks itself in the aftermath of an infection.A U.S. appeals court on Wednesday vacated the conviction of the owner of a wholesale drug distributor accused of selling authentic Botox and other drugs with foreign labels, dealing another setback to the government, which has struggled at times to successfully prosecute similar such cases. A three-judge panel on the U.S.
 
Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit found that a lower court erred when it declined to allow William "Liam" Scully to introduce evidence at his 2015 trial showing he sought legal advice about importing drugs with foreign labels from one of his lawyers.

Obamacare sign-ups rise but overall enrollment set to fall
 
The number of consumers who signed up for 2018 Obamacare health insurance surpassed the 1 million mark in the second-to-last week of enrollment, the government said on Wednesday, but it did not appear to be enough to grow the program. The Trump administration has worked to undercut former President Barack Obama's national healthcare law by decreasing advertising and discussing ending the mandate that Americans have health insurance, which has weighed on 2018 enrollment.

Bumper crop of new drugs fails to lift big pharma R&D returns
 
It is shaping up to be a bumper year for drug approvals, with U.S. officials clearing twice as many novel medicines as in 2016, yet returns on research investment at leading pharmaceutical companies are down. In fact, projected returns at 12 of the world's top drugmakers have fallen to an eight-year low of only 3.2 percent, consultancy Deloitte said on Thursday.

Pfizer's second biosimilar of J&J's Remicade wins U.S. FDA approval

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Pfizer Inc's second biosimilar to Johnson & Johnson's blockbuster rheumatoid arthritis drug, Remicade, the company said on Wednesday. Pfizer's Ixifi was approved for all eligible indications of Remicade, including the treatment of bowel disease Crohn's disease and skin disorder plaque psoriasis, the drugmaker said.
 
Ohio passes law barring abortion over Down syndrome diagnosis Women in Ohio would be prohibited from receiving abortions because of a fetal Down syndrome diagnosis under a bill that passed the state senate on Wednesday and is heading to Republican Governor John Kasich’s desk. Lawmakers voted 20-12 in favor of the law, which criminalizes abortion if the physician has knowledge that the procedure is being sought due to a diagnosis of Down syndrome, a genetic disorder caused when abnormal cell division results in an extra full or partial copy of chromosome 21.

An Irish parliamentary committee on Wednesday recommended that an abortion referendum due next year should offer the choice of allowing terminations with no restrictions up to 12 weeks into a pregnancy, a more liberal position than some had anticipated.

The cross-party committee's recommendations are not binding and the final wording of the planned referendum to change some of the world's strictest abortion laws will be down to the government and require the support of parliament.

Revance will wait to seek backing for Botox-rival

Revance Therapeutics Inc will wait to seek partnerships with bigger drugmakers until it is closer to regulatory approval for its Botox rival treatment, Chief Executive Dan Browne told Reuters in an interview. The California-based drug developer shook the aesthetic industry last week by reporting data that showed its drug RT002  reduced the severity of frown lines for about six months, almost double the 3-4 months Botox and other treatments achieve.
 
Novartis generics arm says may sell or end some products
 
drugmaker Novartis's Sandoz generics business is in the process of selling or closing some products in the United States, it said on Wednesday. "In response to high price pressure, we are optimizing our U.S. portfolio. This includes the sale or discontinuation of certain non-core products and concentration of investment in strategic areas that will drive growth and improve access," it said in a statement in response to a report by the Swiss newspaper Handelszeitung.
 
A U.S. appeals court on Wednesday vacated the conviction of the owner of a wholesale drug distributor accused of selling authentic Botox and other drugs with foreign labels, dealing another setback to the government, which has struggled at times to successfully prosecute similar such cases. A three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit found that a lower court erred when it declined to allow William "Liam" Scully to introduce evidence at his 2015 trial showing he sought legal advice about importing drugs with foreign labels from one of his lawyers.

Obamacare sign-ups rise but overall enrollment set to fall

The number of consumers who signed up for 2018 Obamacare health insurance surpassed the 1 million mark in the second-to-last week of enrollment, the government said on Wednesday, but it did not appear to be enough to grow the program. The Trump administration has worked to undercut former President Barack Obama's national healthcare law by decreasing advertising and discussing ending the mandate that Americans have health insurance, which has weighed on 2018 enrollment.

Bumper crop of new drugs fails to lift big pharma R&D returns

It is shaping up to be a bumper year for drug approvals, with U.S. officials clearing twice as many novel medicines as in 2016, yet returns on research investment at leading pharmaceutical companies are down. In fact, projected returns at 12 of the world's top drugmakers have fallen to an eight-year low of only 3.2 percent, consultancy Deloitte said on Thursday.

Pfizer's second biosimilar of J&J's Remicade wins U.S. FDA approval

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Pfizer Inc's second biosimilar to Johnson & Johnson's blockbuster rheumatoid arthritis drug, Remicade, the company said on Wednesday. Pfizer's Ixifi was approved for all eligible indications of Remicade, including the treatment of bowel disease Crohn's disease and skin disorder plaque psoriasis, the drugmaker said.

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