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Reuters Health News Summary

by Stanton Batson (2020-10-16)

Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

Sign-ups for 2020 Obamacare insurance on fall to 8.3 million: CMS

Enrollments for 2020 insurance plans, under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), on the website fell by about 200,000 from last year to 8.3 million, the U.S.

government said on Friday, citing preliminary data. The data, as of Dec. 17, includes consumers who were granted an extension because they were unable to complete the enrollment process on Dec. 15, the initial deadline for open enrollment.

Stealth Bio's neuromuscular disorder drug fails trial; shares plummet

Stealth BioTherapeutics Corp's shares crashed on Friday after its lead neuromuscular disorder drug candidate failed to help patients walk better and reduce fatigue, a major setback to the company's wide mitochondrial diseases pipeline.

The drug, Elamipretide, co-developed with Alexion Pharmaceuticals, was being tested to treat primary mitochondrial myopathy (PMM). website

Novartis in talks with patients upset about lottery-like gene therapy giveaway

Novartis is in discussion with patient groups over its lottery-style free drug program for its multi-million-dollar gene therapy for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) after criticism that the process could be unfair to some babies with the deadly disease.

The company said on Friday that it will be open to refining the process in the future, but it is not making any changes at this time. The program is for patients in countries where the medicine, called Zolgensma, is not yet approved for the rare genetic disorder, which can lead to death and profound physical disabilities.

Canadian drug distributors say no to Trump import plan

Many of Canada's drug suppliers cannot, or will not, agree to ship cheaper prescription medicines into the United States, a new challenge to the Trump administration's push to reduce drug prices, companies and industry officials told Reuters.

The administration on Wednesday proposed new regulations that would allow states to import prescription drugs from Canada. They would require a state such as Florida to partner with a wholesaler licensed by Health Canada, which regulates drugs.

Knee injuries in early adulthood may hasten arthritis

Young adults who have had knee injuries are much more likely than uninjured peers to develop arthritis in the knee by middle age, especially if they have broken bones or torn connective tissue, a recent study suggests.

Researchers followed almost 150,000 adults ages 25 to 34, including about 5,200 with a history of knee injuries, for almost two decades. Compared to people who never had knee injuries, those who did were nearly six times as likely to develop knee osteoarthritis during the first 11 years of follow-up, with more than triple the risk over the next eight years.

Merck says Ebola vaccine to be available at lowest access price for poor nations

Merck & Co said on Friday it expects to make licensed doses of its recently approved Ebola vaccine available in the third quarter of 2020 and price the single-dose injection at the lowest possible access price for poor and pink runtz weed strain middle-income countries.

The vaccine, Ervebo, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday, a month after Europe gave its nod to the vaccine, a move that has been hailed by the World Health Organization.

First Ebola relapse recorded in Congo outbreak, WHO says

Health officials in eastern Congo have documented the first relapse in the current Ebola epidemic, the World Health Organization said on Friday.

The Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo has so far infected more than 3,300 people and killed more than 2,200 since the middle of last year, making it the second-worst on record.

Hungarian government takes over fertility clinics to boost birth rate

Hungary's government has taken over six privately owned fertility clinics and boosted funding to make treatments accessible to many more couples in a bid to reverse a population decline, the government said.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban has made it a priority to boost the population and reverse a labor shortage with incentives to raise the birth rate rather than increase immigration, anathema to the nationalist leader.

Commercial pig farm in China jams drone signal to combat swine fever crooks

One of China's biggest animal feed producers said it had used a radio transmitter to combat crooks using drones to drop pork products contaminated with African swine fever on its pig farms, as part of a racket to profit from the health scare.

In July, China's agriculture ministry said criminal gangs were faking outbreaks of swine fever on farms and forcing farmers to sell their healthy pigs at sharply lower prices.

As U.S. vaping injuries taper off, new evidence points to vitamin E

The U.S.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a series of reports on Friday indicating that the outbreak of vaping-related lung injuries appears to be waning, as evidence mounts that vitamin E acetate, a cutting agent used in marijuana vape cartridges, is playing a role in the illnesses.

So far, 54 people have died and more than 2,500 have been hospitalized in the outbreak, which started in the summer and spread to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and two U.S. territories.