Reuters Health News Summary

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Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

Roche wins FDA approval for immunotherapy cocktail against lung cancer

Roche's Tecentriq immunotherapy mixed with chemotherapy won U.S. approval as an initial treatment for a form of lung cancer as the Swiss drugmaker seeks to establish its alternative to drugs from Merck and Bristol-Myers Squibb. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Tecentriq mixed with Celgene's Abraxane and carboplatin chemotherapy to treat metastatic non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with no EGFR or ALK genomic tumor aberrations, Roche said on Wednesday.

India asks states to halt online drug sales

India's drugs regulator has asked all states to enforce a court directive prohibiting online medicine sales, a senior government official said on Wednesday, raising industry concerns it could disrupt some online businesses. India is yet to finalize regulations for online drug sales, or e-pharmacies, but the growth of several online sellers such as Medlife, Netmeds, Temasek-backed PharmEasy and Sequoia Capital-backed 1mg has threatened traditional drug-store businesses.

U.S. scientists test first monthly contraceptive pill in pigs

In a first, U.S. researchers have developed an experimental, once-a-month contraceptive pill aimed at improving the effectiveness of daily oral contraceptives, which many women forget to take, the team reported on Wednesday. The pill, which so far has only been tested in pigs, uses a new star-shaped drug delivery system that stays in the digestive tract for days or weeks after being swallowed, researchers from Harvard's Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology reported in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

EPA ignores health benefits of coal rule it plans to weaken: economists

A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposal to weaken a rule on coal plant pollution fails to consider billions of dollars in health benefits for Americans, economists from universities including Harvard and Yale said on Wednesday. The six economists said the proposal to change the rule on mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants ignores an Obama-era estimate that it would slash U.S. healthcare bills by $33 billion to $90 billion per year. The rule would save billions of dollars in healthcare costs because it requires plants to not only cut emissions of mercury, but also fine particulates that cause heart and lung illnesses, they said.

Canadian province Newfoundland & Labrador bans sales of cannabis vapes

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Newfoundland and Labrador became the first Canadian province on Wednesday to ban cannabis vape products, just weeks before sales of marijuana-based derivatives are expected to start. "The intent of the decision is to protect the health of the people in this province until there is more evidence about the connection between cannabis vaping products and severe lung disease," the provincial government said in a statement on its website.

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UV lights in hospitals could help limit bacteria on phones

Ultraviolet sanitizing devices could be stationed around hospitals to help prevent the spread of bacteria on workers' devices like smartphones, a small Canadian study suggests. Researchers in British Columbia recruited staff at three hospitals to disinfect their smart devices twice daily and found a drastic reduction in the amount of bacteria growing on the devices afterward, according to the report.

Fiji to postpone sports contests as it battles measles outbreak

Fiji has asked its sports federations to postpone all competitions until January, in a bid to rein in the spread of a measles outbreak that has killed dozens in the neighboring Pacific nation of Samoa. The highly infectious disease has been crossing the globe, recently finding a susceptible population in Samoa, where the official death toll was 53 on Monday.

Even in big cities, mobile stroke units save time and brain cells

Special ambulances that carry equipment to treat stroke on the spot make a difference even when there are lots of hospitals nearby, a new study suggests. So-called mobile stroke units (MSUs) may get brain-sparing medications into urban patients as much as 30 minutes faster than traditional ambulances that bring patients to hospitals for treatment, the study found.

Hospital groups file lawsuit to block 's price transparency rule

U.S. hospital groups have challenged the administration's rule that requires them to be more transparent about prices they charge patients for healthcare services, according to a lawsuit filed on Wednesday. The plaintiffs, including the nonprofit American Hospital Association (AHA), are looking to block the rule issued last month that mandates hospitals to publish pricing information of their services on the internet.

Johnson & Johnson says new tests show no asbestos in Johnson's Baby Powder

Johnson & Johnson said on Tuesday that recent tests showed that Johnson's Baby Powder was free of asbestos, after U.S. Food and Drug Administration investigations reported trace amounts of the material in the product earlier this year. A total of 155 tests were conducted by two different third-party labs using four different testing methods on samples from the same bottle tested by the FDA's contracted lab, the company said.

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