Reuters Health News Summary

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Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

Lexicon Pharma shares plummet after FDA denies appeal against drug rejection

The U.S. FDA denied Lexicon Pharmaceuticals Inc's appeal against the rejection of its add-on treatment for type 1 diabetes, marking the company's third major setback this year and sending its shares plunging 18% on Monday. Lexicon said it intended to reappeal the decision against Zynquista's approval with the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER).

States fight bonus pay for CEO of OxyContin maker Purdue

The chief executive officer of OxyContin-maker Purdue Pharma LP should not collect a potential $1.3 million bonus when he has been accused of contributing to the opioid epidemic, a group of state attorneys general said in a court filing on Monday. The attorneys general of 24 states said Craig Landau should not collect a bonus that would lift his pay to $3.9 million because of his alleged role in downplaying the risks of Purdue's drugs.

Ontario focused on rare disease drugs ahead of national drug plan talks

The Canadian province of Ontario will push for the federal government to tackle the high cost of treatments for rare diseases as negotiations over a new national prescription drug program are set to kick off, the province's health minister told Reuters on Monday. Prime Minister 's Liberal Party, which was reduced to a minority government following the October election, made a universal pharmacare program a key campaign promise of their re-election bid, without offering much detail on how it might work. The details will need to be negotiated with provincial and territorial governments, responsible for delivering most healthcare.

Samoa in Christmas lockdown as measles deaths top 50

The small Pacific island nation of Samoa has closed schools and is restricting travel ahead of the Christmas holiday season as the death toll from a measles outbreak tops 50, in the latest flare-up of a global epidemic of the virus. The highly infectious disease has been crossing the globe, recently finding a susceptible population in Samoa, where vaccine coverage was only about 31% when measles took hold, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

U.S. considers easing drug protection to break deadlock over trade pact: Wall Street Journal

Story continues

The administration is considering scaling back intellectual-property protections for biologic drugs by big drugmakers to help win Democratic support for a new trade pact with Mexico and Canada, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter. Democrats are pushing the administration to reduce the length of time that leading biologic drugs would be protected from generic imitators in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, the WSJ reported.

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Tear gas used for crowd control in Hong Kong poses health, environmental risks

(Reuters) - The use of tear gas to control crowds of protesters in the Chinese-ruled city of Hong Kong could have dangerous effects on health and the environment, a group of academics warns. In an article last month in The Lancet, researchers from the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) called for government-led decontamination efforts in areas where tear gas has been dispersed, including residential neighborhoods and commercial shopping centers. They also commented on the lack of official guidelines on how to protect against side effects.

Could life insurance go up in smoke for some vapers?

Global reinsurers are stepping up their warnings to life insurer clients about the potential risks of vaping, putting pressure on underwriters to charge certain vapers higher rates than smokers, or even exclude them altogether. U.S. authorities said last month that there had been 47 deaths this year from a lung illness tied to vaping. The health concerns about vaping have grown despite evidence showing e-cigarettes help smokers to quit, and has led to bans in some countries including India and Brazil.

Slight hearing loss may affect kids' behavior, school performance

(Reuters Health) - Children with slight hearing loss may do a little less well in school and may be a bit more likely to develop behavior problems, a new study suggests. Hearing impairment that doctors and parents may have considered slight or mild "may actually be associated with both school performance and behavior," researchers write in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.

'Prediabetes' common in U.S. teens, young adults

About one in five teens and one in four young adults in the U.S. have slightly elevated blood sugar, sometimes known as "prediabetes," that can lead to full-blown diabetes, a study suggests. For the study, researchers examined data on blood sugar levels for 5,786 people ages 12 to 34 who hadn't been diagnosed with diabetes. Overall, 18% of the younger people in the study, ranging in age from 12 to 18 years old, had "prediabetes," as did 24% of the adults 19 to 34 years old.

Firearms most lethal suicide method by far in the U.S.

Firearms are by far the most lethal suicide method, with nearly nine out of 10 attempts being fatal, a new study finds. Pinpointing the most lethal method can help experts find ways to cut down on suicides, researchers noted in Annals of Internal Medicine.

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