Health News Roundup: WHO-backed vaccine resolution wins 24% support at Moderna; Eli Lilly obesity drug data shines, shares rise and more

Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

WHO-backed vaccine resolution wins 24% support at Moderna

A shareholder proposal calling on Moderna Inc to study transferring production of COVID-19 vaccines to less-developed countries won 24% support from investors on Thursday after it received a rare endorsement from the World Health Organization. Proponents say production shifts could help combat the global pandemic. Moderna of Cambridge, Mass. Opposed the measure, saying among other things it already maximized its manufacturing capacity with partners, and that poorer countries have declined millions of doses that Moderna was prepared to deliver.

Eli Lilly obesity drug data shines, shares rise

Eli Lilly and Co on Thursday said its potential blockbuster obesity drug achieved a goal of helping patients lose more than 20% of their weight in a late-stage clinical trial, and its shares rose about 3%. The US drugmaker also reported first-quarter earnings that topped Wall Street estimates.

Oklahoma House passes ban on abortions after six weeks

Oklahoma lawmakers on Thursday passed a bill that would ban abortions after six weeks of pregnancy and rely on private civil actions for enforcement, modeled after a Texas law that has made abortion nearly inaccessible in that state since September. The House of Representatives voted 68-12 without debate to ban abortion before many women realize they are pregnant. Approved by the Senate previously, the bill awaits Republican Governor Kevin Stitt’s signature, and he is expected to sign it.

Mental health issues in kids rose during pandemic; awareness and use of COVID treatments is low

The following is a summary of some recent studies on COVID-19. They include research that warrants further study to corroborate the findings and that has yet to be certified by peer review. Pandemic linked with mental health issues in kids

US FDA pushes ahead with move to ban menthol cigarettes

The US Food and Drug Administration on Thursday issued a long-awaited proposal to ban menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, a major victory for anti-smoking advocates but one that could face stiff opposition from Big Tobacco. The Biden administration’s historic proposal, which comes a year after the agency announced the plan, still needs to be finalized and can take years to implement.

Italy orders mask wearing for some indoor venues until mid-June

Face masks will compulsory remain in Italy on public transport and in some indoor venues until June 15, the health minister said on Thursday, as one of the country’s hardest hit by COVID delayed an end to pandemic restrictions. Masks will still be required to access cinemas, theaters, indoor events and to enter hospitals, Health Minister Roberto Speranza said, adding that the government intends to be cautious in lifting the remaining measures.

Gilead first quarter sales, earnings beat Street estimates

Gilead Sciences Inc on Thursday said its first-quarter revenue rose 3%, helped by increased sales of HIV drug Biktarvy and COVID antiviral drug Veklury. The biotech company said adjusted earnings rose 4% from a year ago to $2.12 per share, topping the average analyst estimate of $1.81, as compiled by Refinitiv.

Pfizer to start US trial of gene therapy as FDA lifts hold

Pfizer Inc said on Thursday it would open the first US trial sites for its experimental gene therapy for a muscle-wasting disorder, after the Food and Drug Administration lifted its hold on a late-stage study. The FDA had put Pfizer’s trial request on hold after the death of a patient in another early-stage study of the therapy for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), which was also paused.

Merck raises 2022 forecast as COVID pill, cancer drug fuels profit beat

Merck & Co on Thursday reported quarterly and sales that beat forecasts and raised its full-years on strong demand for top-selling cancer drug Keytruda, its Gardasil vaccine and COVID-19 antiviral pill molnupiravir. The US drugmaker’s shares rose 1.8% to $85.90 before the opening bell as revenue rose 50% to $15.9 billion, with most of the growth coming from sales of molnupiravir, which was approved in November.

Moderna files for US authorization of COVID shot for kids under 6

Moderna Inc said on Thursday it asked US regulators to authorize its COVID-19 vaccine for children under the age of 6, which would make it the first shot against the coronavirus available for those under 5-years-old. The COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE is authorized for children 5 and older. But their trial results for 2- to 4-year-olds showed a weaker immune response than in adults, forcing the study to be extended to test a third dose. Pfizer has said that data would come in April.

(With inputs from agencies.)

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