Health News Roundup: FDA approves CTI BioPharma's bone marrow cancer drug; U.S. parents still divided over school COVID masking rules -survey and more – Devdiscourse

Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
Indonesia extends AstraZeneca vaccine shelf life as 6 million doses near expiry
Indonesia has extended the shelf life of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine to nine months, as nearly six million doses it received in donations approached their expiration dates, a health ministry spokesperson told Reuters on Tuesday. The decision underscores the challenges many developing countries face in their slow inoculation campaigns, as vaccines donated by wealthy countries arrive with a relatively short shelf life of just a few months or weeks.
U.S. FDA declines to approve Gilead’s HIV drug on glass vial concerns
The U.S health regulator has declined to approve Gilead Sciences’ injectable drug for the treatment of HIV-1 infection over concerns related to the vials meant for the drug, the company said on Tuesday. In a so-called complete response letter, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cited issues related to the compatibility of the drug, lenacapavir, with the proposed borosilicate vial.
FDA approves CTI BioPharma’s bone marrow cancer drug
CTI BioPharma Corp said on Monday the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had approved its drug for treating adult patients with a type of bone marrow cancer who also have low blood platelet count. The drug, Vonjo (pacritinib), belongs to a class of anti-inflammatory treatments called JAK inhibitors, and will compete with Incyte Corp’s Jakafi and Bristol Myers’ Inrebic, which were approved in 2011 and 2019 respectively for treating Myelofibrosis.
Warren, 12 other U.S. lawmakers press drugs lobby group on price increases
Senators Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar and 11 other U.S. lawmakers pressed the president of the biggest pharmaceutical industry trade group on Tuesday about what they said were “troubling price increases for brand name drugs” in January. A letter to Stephen Ubl, president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) was signed by 12 Democrats as well as Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent. It asks PhRMA to explain the source of the price increases, and asks for information about research costs and revenue from the medicines.
U.S. parents still divided over school COVID masking rules -survey
As public schools around the United States lift COVID-19 mask mandates, parents are divided over the issue, with nearly 43% saying face covering requirements should remain in place to prevent virus transmission, according to a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF). Most parents who responded also expressed concern about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines for children under age 5, saying they do not have enough information, according to the KFF survey of 1,502 adults conducted between Feb. 9 and 21.
Pfizer’s bacterial infection vaccine fails main goal in study
Pfizer Inc said on Tuesday its vaccine to prevent infections from a bacteria that mainly spreads through hospitals and doctors’ offices and can even prove fatal, failed to meet the main goal of a late-stage study. There are no vaccines yet to prevent the illness caused by Clostridioides difficile (C. diff) bacterium, which has been classified as an urgent public health threat by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Red Cross seeks funds for Ukraine aid, access to detainees
Red Cross agencies appealed on Tuesday for 250 million Swiss francs ($273 million) to provide food, water and shelter to millions of people in Ukraine where the humanitarian situation is “deteriorating rapidly” and to those who have fled abroad. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies – the world’s largest disaster relief network – issued the joint appeal as a huge Russian armoured column bore down on Kyiv, six days after Moscow’s invasion began.
Britain revokes mandatory COVID shots for health workers
Britain on Tuesday confirmed that a requirement for health workers to have a COVID-19 vaccination would no longer be introduced in April and care home workers would no longer be required to have the shots from March 15. Health minister Sajid Javid in January said that the government intended to revoke the regulations, subject to consultation. On Tuesday the health ministry said that following the consultation, the requirement would be dropped.
Biden to announce U.S. strategy to address mental health -White House
U.S. President Joe Biden will lay out a strategy to address the nation’s “unprecedented mental health crisis” in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday night, the White House said in a statement. The plan aims “to strengthen system capacity, connect more Americans to care, and create a continuum of support –transforming our health and social services infrastructure to address mental health holistically and equitably,” it said.
FDA approves cancer therapy by J&J, partner Legend Biotech
The U.S. health regulator has approved a therapy developed by Johnson & Johnson and its China-focused partner Legend Biotech Corp to treat a type of white blood cell cancer, the U.S. healthcare company said on Monday. The Food and Drug Administration’s decision paves the way for Legend’s first approved product in the United States, at a time when the regulator has stepped up its scrutiny of drug trials conducted in China. The Legend-J&J therapy was tested initially in China, and then in the United States and Japan.
(With inputs from agencies.)
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