Health News Roundup: Novartis suspends two cancer therapies over quality concerns; Walgreens reaches $683 million opioid settlement with Florida and more

Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

Novartis suspends two cancer therapies over quality concerns

Novartis said on Thursday it had temporarily suspended the production of its Lutathera and Pluvicto cancer therapies at facilities in Italy and New Jersey after potential quality issues were discovered in their manufacturing. “Novartis is conducting a thorough review of the situation and currently expects to resolve the issues and resume some supply in the next six weeks”, the Swiss company said.

Exclusive-WHO members to consider shutting Europe hub office in Russia over Ukraine – document

World Health Organization states will consider a resolution against Russia next week after its invasion of Ukraine, including the possible closure of a major regional office in Moscow, a document obtained by Reuters showed on Thursday. The resolution, to be considered on Tuesday, stopped short of harsher sanctions such as suspending Russia from the U.N. global health agency’s board as well as a temporary freeze of its voting rights, three diplomatic and political sources said.

Beijing nervously returns to work as China doubles down on ‘zero-COVID’ policy

Beijing residents tentatively returned to work on Thursday after a muted five-day Labour Day holiday devoid of the usual trips across the country or lavish family dinners, as China pledged to fight any criticism of its uncompromising “zero-COVID” policy. The long break is usually one of the most lucrative times of the year for restaurants, hotels and other businesses in China. This year, travellers spent 43% less than in 2021, data showed on Thursday.

EU citizens may sue countries for health-damaging dirty air, top court adviser says

Citizens in European Union countries may be able to sue their governments for financial compensation if illegal levels of air pollution damage their health, an adviser to Europe’s top court said on Thursday. The adviser’s opinion follows a string of rulings at the Luxembourg-based Court of Justice of the EU in recent years, with around 10 EU countries including France, Poland, Italy and Romania found guilty of illegal air pollution.

Walgreens reaches $683 million opioid settlement with Florida

Walgreens Boots Alliance said on Thursday it has reached a $683 million settlement with Florida to resolve claims that the pharmacy chain exacerbated an opioid epidemic in the state. The settlement includes $620 million to be paid to Florida over 18 years, plus $63 million for legal fees.

COVID led to 15 million deaths globally, not the 5 million reported – WHO

Almost three times as many people have died as a result of COVID-19 as official data show, according to a new World Health Organization (WHO) report, the most comprehensive look at the true global toll of the pandemic so far. There were 14.9 million excess deaths associated with COVID-19 by the end of 2021, the U.N. body said on Thursday.

U.S. travel industry, airlines urge end to predeparture COVID-19 testing rule

Major airlines, business and travel groups and other companies urged the White House on Thursday to abandon COVID-19 pre-departure testing requirements for vaccinated international passengers traveling to the United States. “Given the slow economic recovery of the business and international travel sectors, and in light of medical advancements and the improved public health metrics in the U.S., we encourage you to immediately remove the inbound testing requirement for vaccinated air travelers,” said the letter signed by American Airlines, Carnival Corp, Marriott International, Walt Disney Co’s Disney Parks, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Travel Association and others.

Severe dust storms in Iraq cause breathing problems for thousands – medics

A series of dust storms across central and southern Iraq have led to thousands of Iraqis attending hospitals and clinics to seek treatment for breathing problems, medical officials said on Thursday. During the latest storm, which began overnight on Thursday and covered the capital Baghdad and many other areas in a thick haze, at least 3,000 people sought medical help, hospital workers in several governorates said.

Omicron as severe as other COVID variants -large U.S. study

The Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV2 virus is intrinsically as severe as previous variants, , according to a preprint version of a large U.S. study that counters assumptions in other studies that it was more transmissible but less severe. The findings, which estimated Omicron’s severity after accounting for the impact of vaccines, should reinforce the importance of inoculations and booster shots, experts said. Vaccines helped keep hospitalizations and deaths relatively low during the Omicron surge compared with previous variants.

Louisiana legislators advance bill classifying abortion as homicide

Louisiana lawmakers have advanced a bill that would abolish abortion in the state, grant constitutional rights to “all unborn children from the moment of fertilization” and classify abortion as a homicide crime. The move on Wednesday came two days after a leaked draft ruling showed the U.S. Supreme Court poised to overturn the 1973 landmark Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide. The court’s final ruling is expected in June.

(With inputs from agencies.)

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