Opioid settlement talks fail, landmark trial expected Monday

CLEVELAND (Reuters) – A landmark trial over the U.S. opioid epidemic is on track to begin on Monday after drug companies and local governments failed to agree on a settlement on Friday that had been expected to be valued at around $50 billion.

A view of the statue standing in front of the U.S. District Courthouse in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S., October 18, 2019. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk

Top executives of the largest U.S. drug distributors and drugmaker Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd left a Cleveland courthouse on Friday and lawyers for states and thousands of local governments said there was no agreement.

FDA approves Alexion’s Ultomiris for another rare blood disease

(Reuters) – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc’s treatment for a second rare blood disorder, the company said.

The treatment, Ultomiris, has already been approved in the United States, Japan and the European Union to treat adults with blood disorder called paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria.

Friday’s approval allows its use in treating atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (aHUS), a condition that causes abnormal blood clots to form in small blood vessels in the kidneys, which could result in kidney failure.

Opioids settlement could be near, lawyer for local governments says

CLEVELAND (Reuters) – Executives from several large healthcare companies and state attorneys general were progressing toward what is expected to be a multibillion-dollar deal to resolve the sprawling litigation over the U.S. opioid epidemic, a plaintiffs’ lawyer said on Friday.

A view of the statue standing in front of the U.S. District Courthouse in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S., October 18, 2019. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk

“I think we can get a long way,” said Peter Weinberger, a lawyer for local governments that have sued the companies, when asked by a reporter if a deal was possible on Friday.

Ebola concentrated in Congo mining area, still an emergency: WHO

GENEVA (Reuters) – Ebola is infecting and killing people in a gold mining area of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, and the “complex and dangerous” outbreak still constitutes an international emergency, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: A health worker injects a man with Ebola vaccine in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, August 5, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner/File Photo

The virus has infected 3,227 people and killed 2,154 of them since the outbreak was declared in August 2018 and went on to became the world’s second worst outbreak, it said.

California To Provide Financial Boost To Help Buy Health Coverage

If you are among the Californians who buy your own health insurance, a surprise may await you as the enrollment period for 2020 coverage opens this week.

Starting Jan. 1, California will become the first state to offer subsidies to middle-income people who make too much money to qualify for the federal tax credits that help consumers buy health coverage through Covered California, the state’s Affordable Care Act insurance exchange.

Juul halts all U.S. sales of many flavored nicotine liquids

JUUL e-cigarette vaping pods are shown in this photo illustration taken September 14, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake/Illustration

(Reuters) – E-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc said on Thursday it will completely halt U.S. sales of all flavors except tobacco, mint and menthol, as the company faces heightened scrutiny from regulators, lawmakers and state attorneys general over the appeal of its nicotine products to teenagers.

Thursday’s move, which ends online sales, means Juul’s mango, fruit, creme and cucumber nicotine pod flavors will no longer be available for sale anywhere in the United States. The company last year pulled those flavors from retail stores but continued to sell them on its website with what the company said were “strict age-verification controls.”

More than half of Wisconsin vaping samples tested by FDA contain marijuana ingredient

FILE PHOTO: A man uses a vape device in this illustration picture, September 19, 2019. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi/Illustration

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Vaping product samples from Wisconsin linked to a rash of serious lung injuries tested by U.S. health regulators showed that more than half contained THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, according to a summary of a preliminary report seen by Reuters.Of the THC-containing products, two-thirds also tested positive for Vitamin E acetate, a cutting agent believed to have been used to stretch the amount of THC oil, according to a summary of the report. The Vitamin E additive has been an early focus of investigators seeking to determine the cause of the nationwide outbreak.

No More Tater Tots? California Schools Put Healthier Lunches To The Test

When Miguel Villarreal addresses a crowded education conference, a group of school district administrators or a room full of curious parents, he often holds aloft a foil-wrapped package of Pop-Tarts — the heavily processed, high-sugar snack routinely sold on school campuses.

Villarreal, who oversees nutrition for the San Ramon Valley Unified School District in Northern California, then speaks clearly and loudly as he unloads the news: “School food services are completely broken.”

Smokeless tobacco use in pregnancy tied to higher blood pressure in kids

(Reuters Health) – Children whose mothers used smokeless tobacco during pregnancy have higher blood pressure by the time they’re 5-6 years old compared to peers whose mothers avoided tobacco, a small Swedish study finds.

Researchers examined blood pressure in 21 kids exposed in the womb to snus, a moist powdered smokeless tobacco, and 19 children without any prenatal tobacco exposure.

In kids exposed to snus, systolic blood pressure – the “top number” – averaged 4.2 mmHG (millimeters of mercury) higher than in children without any prenatal tobacco exposure, showing higher pressure exerted by blood against artery walls when the heart beats.

Teva to donate over $15 billion worth of drugs in opioid settlement: source

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries is seen during a news conference hold by its CEO, Kare Schultz, to discuss the company’s 2019 outlooks in Tel Aviv, Israel February 19, 2019. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

(Reuters) – Teva Pharmaceuticals (TEVA.N) is in talks to contribute over $15 billion worth of drugs as part of a settlement to resolve lawsuits alleging it helped fuel the U.S. opioid crisis, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters on Wednesday.

The news follows media reports that major drug distributors McKesson Corp (MCK.N), AmerisourceBergen Corp (ABC.N) and Cardinal Health (CAH.N) are discussing with governments to settle thousands of opioid-related lawsuits for $18 billion.