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Health News Roundup: UK pharma body urges govt to scrap hike in repayment rate for drugmakers; Analysis-GSK gives few clues on plans to replenish medicine cabinet and more

Below is a summary of the latest health news.

The UK pharmaceutical regulator is urging the government to scrap increases in reimbursement rates for drug manufacturers

The British pharmaceutical trade organization on Thursday urged the government to scrap its plans to increase drugmaker reimbursement rates to avoid potential backlash in the industry. Drug manufacturers, which are part of the UK’s voluntary program agreement that makes branded medicines affordable for people, have to pay part of their drug revenues to the government. The Department of Health and Social Care plans to raise the recovery rate from 24.5% to 27.5%.

Analysis GSK gives few clues as to plans to replenish the medicine cabinet

GSK chief Emma Walmsley on Wednesday made replenishing the drugmaker’s vaccine and therapy pipeline her top priority. However, analysts were disappointed that she didn’t provide further details on how she and her management team plan to find the company’s next line of blockbuster drugs.

Draft WHO pandemic agreement urges justice to avoid repeat of COVID ‘failure’

According to an early draft global pandemic agreement, governments may need to reserve medicines and vaccines for the World Health Organization to distribute to poorer countries to avoid a repeat of “catastrophic failure” during the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the most specific proposals in the draft deal, reviewed by Reuters on Wednesday, includes a measure to reserve 20% of any test, vaccine or treatment developed for use in poorer countries.

The Canadian province is trying to decriminalize drugs in a bid to combat the overdose crisis

The western Canadian province of British Columbia on Tuesday launched a three-year pilot program to stop prosecuting people for carrying small amounts of heroin, meth, ecstasy or crack cocaine, as part of an effort to combat a drug overdose crisis. As of 2016, BC is responsible for about a third of the 32,000 overdose and human trafficking deaths, according to official figures. The province declared a drug overdose a public health emergency earlier this year.

The case of mad cow disease in the Netherlands is an age variant

A case of mad cow disease discovered on a farm in the Netherlands is the age variant that poses no risk to public health, the Ministry of Agriculture said on Wednesday. The infection was found in a dead cow in the Dutch province of South Holland on January 30.

West Virginia clinic, doctor sues over new state abortion ban

West Virginia’s only abortion clinic and the clinic’s chief physician filed a lawsuit Wednesday challenging the near-total ban on abortion the state enacted last year, saying it violates patients’ constitutional rights. In their appeal in federal court in Charleston, West Virginia, the West Virginia Women’s Health Center and the physician identified as John Doe are asking the court for an immediate injunction blocking enforcement of the law while the case proceeds.

Ecuador vaccinates more than two million birds against bird flu

Ecuador plans to vaccinate more than two million birds against avian flu in a bid to stem an outbreak in the Andean nation, the agriculture minister said on Wednesday. Because of the first infections on a farm in the central province of Cotopaxi, the South American nation declared an animal health emergency at the end of November, and there are currently outbreaks in three other provinces.

Mailing abortion pills could be against the law, Republican AGs tell pharmacies

A group of 20 Republican attorneys general told Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc and CVS Health Corp on Wednesday that they risk violating federal and state laws if they distribute the abortion drug mifepristone through the mail. The move, announced by Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey, comes weeks after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration first allowed retail pharmacies to dispense mifepristone, including through the mail, provided they are certified under special safety rules for the drug.

US FDA lifts COVID testing requirements for Pfizer and Merck pills

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday lifted the requirement for a positive test for Pfizer Inc and Merck & Co Inc.’s COVID-19 treatments. Pfizer’s Paxlovid and Merck’s Lagevrio pills received emergency use authorizations in December 2021 for patients with mild to moderate COVID who tested positive for the virus and were at risk of progressing to severe COVID.

US FDA approves GSK’s anemia drug for dialysis patients

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday approved GSK Plc’s drug as the first oral treatment for anemia caused by chronic kidney disease in adults who have been on dialysis for at least four months. The Jesduvroq drug comes with the boxed warning for increased thrombotic vascular events, including death, heart attack, stroke, and blood clots in the lungs, legs, or dialysis access site. The warnings and precautions also include the risk of hospitalization for heart failure, worsening hypertension, gastric erosion and gastrointestinal bleeding.

(With agency contributions.)

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