NEW YORK (AP) — The government's latest report card on food poisoning shows a dip in salmonella cases but an increase in illnesses from bacteria in raw shellfish. The report counts cases in only 10 states for some of the most common causes of foodborne illness, but is believed to be a good indicator of national food poisoning trends. Highlights from Thursday's report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
Biogen Idec Inc is pricing its newly-approved long-acting hemophilia drug to cost U.S. patients, and insurers, about the same per year as older, less convenient therapies whose price can reach about $300,000 annually. The move could pressure rivals such as Pfizer Inc to lower prices for existing hemophilia treatments, which provide patients with life-saving infusions of a blood clotting agent, according to doctors and industry analysts. Biogen last month won U.S. and Canadian approval for Alprolix to treat hemophilia B, the more rare form of the condition that affects about 4,000 people in the United States and about 25,000 worldwide. The company is awaiting a decision on another drug to treat hemophilia A, a more common form of the disease, expected to come in the next few months.
By Kathryn Doyle NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Young people are smoking fewer cigarettes these days, but their cigar use is rising, which may partly be due to the popularity of flavored cigars, according to a new study. "The cigar market is the most heavily flavored of all tobacco products," said Cristine D. Delnevo, who led the research. "For decades, tobacco industry internal documents have highlighted that flavors appeal to youth and young people." Delnevo, who directs the Center for Tobacco Surveillance & Evaluation Research at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey in New Brunswick, and colleagues from the National Institutes of Health investigated recent market and survey data on flavored cigar use among young people. Delnevo and her coauthors analyzed an annual survey of drug and alcohol use among Americans ages 12 and up.
(This story from April 15 corrects name of researcher to Breiter, instead of Beiter, throughout story) By Alex Dobuzinskis (Reuters) - Young, casual marijuana smokers experience potentially harmful changes to their brains, with the drug altering regions of the mind related to motivation and emotion, researchers found. The study to be published on Wednesday in the Journal of Neuroscience differs from many other pot-related research projects that are focused on chronic, heavy users of cannabis. The collaborative effort between Northwestern University's medical school, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School showed a direct correlation between the number of times users smoked and abnormalities in the brain. "What we're seeing is changes in people who are 18 to 25 in core brain regions that you never, ever want to fool around with," said co-senior study author Dr. Hans Breiter, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University.
By Julien Ponthus and Nicholas Vinocur CLERMONT-FERRAND, France (Reuters) - A senior adviser to French President Francois Hollande quit on Friday over accusations of past conflict of interest linked to his work for pharmaceutical firms, adding to pressure on the unpopular Socialist leader weeks before European elections. Aquilino Morelle, Hollande's chief communications adviser, speechwriter and a main political strategist, has denied investigative website Mediapart's report that he had failed to obtain clearance for lobbying work when he was an employee of the public health inspectorate. ...
Oscar-winning actress, comedienne and talk-show host Whoopi Goldberg sang the praises of marijuana inhaled through a pocket vaporizer on Thursday as she made her debut as an online pot columnist. In fact, her name is Sippy." wrote Goldberg, 58, about her pocket vaporizer on "The Cannabist," a pot-friendly website run by the Denver Post newspaper in Colorado. The Rocky Mountain state was the second in the United States, after Washington in the Pacific Northwest, to legalize marijuana for recreational use. But in a country where, at the federal level, marijuana is classified as an illegal drug on a par with heroin, Goldberg said Sippy's compact proportions helps maintain discretion.
Four years after the Deepwater Horizon spill, oil is still washing up on the long sandy beaches of Grand Isle, Louisiana, and some islanders are fed up with hearing from BP that the crisis is over. Jules Melancon, the last remaining oyster fisherman on an island dotted with colorful houses on stilts, says he has not found a single oyster alive in his leases in the area since the leak and relies on an onshore oyster nursery to make a living. The British oil major has paid out billions of dollars in compensation under a settlement experts say is unprecedented in its breadth. Some claimants are satisfied, but others are irate that BP is now challenging aspects of the settlement.
By Chen Aizhu BEIJING (Reuters) - China has launched an intense media campaign to defend the safety of producing a chemical used to make polyester fiber, as public opposition to new petrochemical plants threatens to disrupt expansion plans by state energy giants such as Sinopec Corp. Choking smog and environmental degradation in many parts of China is angering an increasingly educated and affluent urban class and after a series of health scares and accidents there is deepening public skepticism of the safety of industries ranging from food to energy. Illustrating this distrust, hundreds of residents in the southern Chinese city of Maoming demonstrated this month against plans to build a petrochemical plant to produce paraxylene, known as PX, a chemical used in making polyester fiber and plastics. The plant is backed by the local government and China's biggest refiner, state-controlled Sinopec Corp. China is the world's largest producer and consumer of PX and polyester, vital for the country's textile industry, which generated $290 billion of overseas sales, or 13 percent of China's total exports last year, according to customs data.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Eight million people have signed up for health care through new insurance exchanges and the proportion of younger applicants has increased, President Barack Obama said Thursday. The enrollments exceeded expectations and offered new hope to Democrats who are defending the law ahead of the midterm elections.
By Cameron French TORONTO (Reuters) - Toronto Mayor Rob Ford launched his re-election campaign on Friday, acknowledging the crack-cocaine scandal that has made him a topic of water cooler talk across North America, but also happy to trade on his notoriety. Ford, whose authority was reduced last year by a city council fed up with his antics, took over a massive convention center in Toronto's west end for the event, hawking bobble-head dolls to raise funds ahead of the election on October 27. First elected mayor in 2010 on a cost-cutting platform, Ford has become indisputably the most famous leader in the city's history, and continues to poll relatively strongly in spite of a scandal that prompted staffers to desert him and has cost him nearly all of his allies on city council.
By David Stanway BEIJING (Reuters) - China's capital has ordered more than 50 companies to shut down this year in an effort to cut pollution but pushing factories out could raise objections in surrounding areas reluctant to host Beijing's polluters. Smog-shrouded Beijing and the surrounding province of Hebei have become a front in a "war against pollution" declared by Premier Li Keqiang last month. But experts say efforts to cut coal consumption and industrial output in big cities like Beijing is likely to put pressure on other regions to endure more pollution to keep the economy growing, with overall coal consumption expected to rise by a quarter from 2011 to 2015. "Moving Beijing's plants to Hebei isn't the best way," said Yang Fuqiang, a former government researcher and senior energy and environment adviser with the Natural Resources Defense Council, a U.S.-based think-tank.
By Dana Feldman and Eric Kelsey LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A man who has sued filmmaker Bryan Singer, the director of the upcoming blockbuster action film "X-Men: Days of Future Past," for allegedly raping him as a teenager said on Thursday that his claims of sexual abuse went unheeded by authorities. Michael Egan, 31, who was an aspiring teen actor, said he and his mother told the Los Angeles Police Department and the FBI in late 1999 and 2000 that Egan was being abused by an underage sex ring. "What happened was basically it fell on deaf ears," Egan said a news conference seated next to his attorney, Jeff Herman. "We didn't get anywhere and then I basically buried it in me as deep as I possibly could." Herman filed a civil lawsuit on Wednesday in federal court in Hawaii, alleging that Singer, 48, used his influence as a Hollywood insider as well as a range of drugs and alcohol to force anal and oral sex on Egan while promising him film roles.
By Steve Holland WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama mounted a vigorous effort on Thursday to show his signature healthcare law is working and dismissed Republican critics who are using flaws in Obamacare to campaign for ousting Democrats from the U.S. Congress in November. Appearing in the White House briefing room days before leaving the national stage for a week-long trip to Asia, Obama used a news conference to make the case that the Affordable Care Act had mended nicely from its disastrous October rollout. For the healthcare law to succeed, young, healthy people must sign up and pay premiums to offset the healthcare costs for older Americans. Obama's remarks reflected deep concerns at the White House that Republicans may be able to topple Democrats from control of the U.S. Senate in November elections and build on their majority in the House of Representatives.
By Chuck Mikolajczak NEW YORK (Reuters) - Earnings season shifts into high gear next week, and with nearly one-third of S&P 500 names set to post results, investors hope the news provides a catalyst to buy stocks and leave the market's recent weakness in the dust. Several behemoths, including Apple, the largest U.S. company by market value, as well as Microsoft, McDonald's and AT&T , are due to report earnings. They'll be accompanied by highfliers like Netflix and Facebook, giving the first real cross-section of the state of corporate America as temperatures rise across the country and investors hope to put the cold weather behind them. Strategists will also be looking for clues on how badly China's slowdown hits U.S. corporate results.
By David Lawder WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama's fiscal 2015 budget request would boost U.S. tax revenue by nearly $1.4 trillion over 10 years if fully enacted, cutting deficits by $1.05 trillion while funding new spending, the Congressional Budget Office said on Thursday. But the non-partisan agency's analysis was less optimistic than the White House's own projections - showing that cumulative deficits would total $6.6 trillion over 10 years, compared to $4.9 trillion under the Obama plan when it was released in March. A key difference between the two deficit pictures is CBO's projection of slower economic growth, partly resulting in lower revenue collections. The likelihood that Congress will advance Obama's plan in its entirety is virtually nil, but the CBO's latest analysis will feed campaign messaging by Democrats and Republicans ahead of congressional elections in November.
The negative social, physical and mental health effects of childhood bullying are still evident nearly 40 years later, according to research by British psychiatrists. In the first study of its kind to look at the effects of childhood bullying beyond early adulthood, the researchers said its impact is "persistent and pervasive", with people who were bullied when young more likely to have poorer physical and psychological health and poorer cognitive functioning at age 50. "The effects of bullying are still visible nearly four decades later ... with health, social and economic consequences lasting well into adulthood," said Ryu Takizawa, who led the study at the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London. The findings, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry on Friday, come from the British National Child Development Study which includes data on all children born in England, Scotland and Wales during one week in 1958.
By Sharon Begley NEW YORK (Reuters) - Scientists have moved a step closer to the goal of creating stem cells perfectly matched to a patient's DNA in order to treat diseases, they announced on Thursday, creating patient-specific cell lines out of the skin cells of two adult men. The advance, described online in the journal Cell Stem Cell, is the first time researchers have achieved "therapeutic cloning" of adults. Technically called somatic-cell nuclear transfer, therapeutic cloning means producing embryonic cells genetically identical to a donor, usually for the purpose of using those cells to treat disease. But nuclear transfer is also the first step in reproductive cloning, or producing a genetic duplicate of someone - a technique that has sparked controversy since the 1997 announcement that it was used to create Dolly, the clone of a ewe.
By Eric Kelsey LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Director Bryan Singer, weeks before the release of his blockbuster "X-Men" action film, "X-Men: Days of Future Past," has been accused of drugging and raping a teenage boy in California and Hawaii in the late 1990s. The lawsuit filed on Wednesday in U.S. Court in Hawaii alleges that Singer, 48, used his influence as a Hollywood insider as well as a range of drugs and alcohol to force anal and oral sex on the boy while promising him roles in his films. Michael Egan seeks unspecified damages and a jury trial after wide-ranging abuses at California and Hawaii house parties beginning in the late 1990s, according to the civil action.
By Ryan Vlastelica NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks ended a holiday-shortened week with mostly modest gains on Thursday, though the S&P 500 notched its biggest weekly advance since July as Morgan Stanley and General Electric rallied after strong results. The two were the latest to post earnings that topped expectations, helping to lift the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq to their fourth straight daily advance. Tech bellwethers Google and IBM fell on disappointing figures and limited the broader market's gain. IBM's slide pushed the Dow into slightly negative territory at the close.
(Reuters) - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned that a common surgical procedure used to remove uterine fibroids could spread undetected uterine cancer. Data showed that the procedure, laparoscopic power morcellation, could significantly worsen a patient's chance of long-term survival, the regulator said. Uterine fibroids are benign tumors that usually pose no risk. However, certain women suffer from symptoms that include heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding, pelvic pressure and frequent urination, which could warrant medical or surgical intervention.
By Svea Herbst-Bayliss BOSTON (Reuters) - Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office said on Thursday it is investigating Herbalife Ltd, joining other state and federal probes of allegations that the weight loss and nutrition company is running a pyramid scheme. Madigan's office was urged to look into the company months ago by civil rights groups, which claimed it was a pyramid scheme targeting minorities. Hedge fund manager William Ackman was the first to call Herbalife a fraud and placed a $1 billion bet against the company in 2012. The company denies the allegations, and high-profile investors such as Carl Icahn, George Soros and Daniel Loeb have supported the company in the past by taking stakes.
(Reuters) - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved Merck & Co's pollen allergy drug Ragwitek. The tablet, which is administered by placing it under the tongue, is to treat the short ragweed pollen induced allergic rhinitis. Merck's Grastek will compete with Stallergenes SA's immunotherapy treatment for five types of grass pollen, which was approved by the FDA earlier this month.
By Julia Edwards WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Lowe's Home Centers, the No. 2 U.S. home improvement retail chain, has agreed to pay a $500,000 penalty for violating federal rules governing lead paint exposure, U.S. authorities said on Thursday. The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Justice said Lowe's had also agreed to implement a new compliance program at more than 1,700 stores nationwide. Lead exposure can cause a range of health problems, from behavioral disorders and learning disabilities to seizures and death. Lead-based paint was banned in the United States in 1978 but remains in many older homes and apartments.