U.S. documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles dies at 88

Albert Maysles poses for a picture at his offices in New YorkBy Patricia Reaney NEW YORK (Reuters) - Albert Maysles, a pioneering American documentary filmmaker best known for works such as "Grey Gardens" and "Gimme Shelter," has died at age 88, his family said on Friday. Maysles passed away on Thursday at his home in New York following a brief battle with cancer. They were considered among the most prominent figures in documentary films. The brothers, who founded Maysles Films in the 1960s, developed the art of making non-fiction, fly-on-the-wall films in which the drama of life unfolded without the use of scripts, sets or narration.



What kills more women than AIDS and breast cancer? Dirty water
By Maria Caspani NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Diseases spread through dirty water and poor sanitation are the fifth biggest killer of women worldwide, causing more deaths than AIDS, diabetes or breast cancer, researchers say. Nearly 800,000 women die every year because they lack access to safe toilets and clean water, said the development organization WaterAid, which analyzed data from the Seattle-based Institute of Health Metrics research center. "This completely unacceptable situation affects women and girls' education, their health, their dignity and ultimately, in too many cases, results in an early and needless death," WaterAid CEO Barbara Frost said in a statement. The only conditions more fatal for women than the lack of decent sanitation are heart disease, stroke, lower respiratory infections and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, according to the report.

Novartis wins first FDA approval of biosimilar drug

The United States opened the door to cheaper biotech drugs Friday, accepting a biosimilar cancer drug made by Swiss pharmaceutical giant NovartisThe United States opened the door to cheaper biotech drugs Friday, accepting a biosimilar cancer drug made by Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis. The US Food and Drug Administration approved Zarxio, made by Novartis US-based unit Sandoz, the first biosimilar drug to win government approval in the country. The FDA said Zarxio was highly similar in terms of safety and effectiveness to Amgen's Neupogen, a biotech drug used to treat low amounts of certain white blood cells that often follow cancer treatments such as chemotherapy.



Novartis wins approval for first U.S. biosimilar drug

Swiss drugmaker Novartis' logo is seen at the company's plant in the northern Swiss town of SteinU.S. regulators on Friday gave a green light to sales of the country's first "biosimilar," or copied version of a biotechnology drug, by approving Novartis' white blood cell-boosting Zarxio. The drug contains the same active ingredient as Amgen Inc's Neupogen, or filgrastim, which generated 2014 sales of $1.2 billion worldwide. The Food and Drug Administration said it approved Zarxio for the same five conditions for which Neupogen is used - preventing infections in cancer patients undergoing various treatments. The move had been expected after Zarxio, which is made by Novartis' Sandoz generics unit, won unanimous backing from an FDA panel in January.



Imaging Tests: Weighing the Radiation Risk
CT scans use ionizing radiation, a known (although relatively weak) carcinogen. Research suggests that CT scans may raise cancer risk -- although it would still be very low -- particularly in childhood. In addition, studies find radiation doses used in CT vary widely among facilities, even for the same procedure on similar patients. Rebecca Smith-Bindman, a physician and professor of radiology and biomedical imaging at the University of California--San Francisco, has published a number of papers on CT safety issues, dose variations and the notable rise in CT scans performed.

Eli Lilly loses Alimta drug patent case in Germany to Actavis
(Reuters) - Eli Lilly has lost a patent case in Germany over its blockbuster Alimta lung cancer drug to generic producer Actavis, hitting the U.S. drugmaker's future sales hopes for the medicine. Alimta generated worldwide sales of $2.79 billion for Lilly last year, making the medicine its biggest-selling product. The ruling contradicts a previous verdict by a lower court in Germany and Lilly's general counsel, Michael Harrington, said the company would fight the decision. "We will seek permission to appeal this ruling to the German Supreme Court," Harrington said in a statement on Friday.

What kills more women than AIDS and breast cancer? Dirty water - TRFN

A woman crosses a bridge along Mpoko river in BanguiBy Maria Caspani NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Diseases spread through dirty water and poor sanitation are the fifth biggest killer of women worldwide, causing more deaths than AIDS, diabetes or breast cancer, researchers say. Nearly 800,000 women die every year because they lack access to safe toilets and clean water, said the development organisation WaterAid, which analysed data from the Seattle-based Institute of Health Metrics research centre. "This completely unacceptable situation affects women and girls' education, their health, their dignity and ultimately, in too many cases, results in an early and needless death," WaterAid CEO Barbara Frost said in a statement. The only conditions more fatal for women than the lack of decent sanitation are heart disease, stroke, lower respiratory infections and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, according to the report.



Washington state woman files wrongful death lawsuit over superbug infection
By Victoria Cavaliere SEATTLE (Reuters) - A Washington state woman has filed a lawsuit against a hospital and a leading medical-device manufacturer claiming her husband died from a drug-resistant "superbug" he contracted from a contaminated medical scope, her lawyer said on Thursday. Theresa Bigler, of Woodway, is seeking unspecified monetary damages for the death of her husband Richard Bigler, 57, who died in 2013 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. Bigler's attorney, Joel Cunningham, said his death certificate also lists a drug-resistant form of E. coli bacteria as contributing to his demise. Bigler was among 31 people infected in an outbreak at Seattle's Virginia Mason Medical Center between 2012 and 2014 that was spread through medical devices called duodenoscopes that the hospital said harbor the germs even after being cleaned to manufacturer and federal guidelines.

AbbVie CEO defends Pharmacyclics deal to skeptical investors
AbbVie Inc chief Richard Gonzalez fought two other drugmakers to "the bitter end" to buy Pharmacyclics Inc for its hot-selling Imbruvica cancer drug, but may have a harder time convincing investors it is worth $21 billion. Since then, some shareholders have questioned how the company will protect its best-selling drug Humira, for arthritis, against new rivals when it loses patent protection in late 2016. "AbbVie is taking a hit today because of the dilution and because they look a little desperate to do a deal," said Chris Pultz, portfolio manager for Kellner Merger Fund, an arbitrage fund that took a stake in Pharmacyclics on Thursday. "AbbVie lost a little credibility" by paying top dollar for Pharmacyclics, he said.

Hormone disrupting chemicals may cost EU 157 billion euros a year

A recent scientific study has linked endocrine disrupting chemicals to IQ loss, autism, attention hyperactivity disorder, obesity, testicular cancer and male infertility Human exposure to hormone disrupting chemicals could cost the European Union some 157 billion euros a year in health care and lost productivity, according to a study published Thursday in a scientific journal. The study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism linked endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) to IQ loss, autism, attention hyperactivity disorder, obesity, testicular cancer and male infertility. Hundreds of EDCs are present in food products, textiles, hygiene products, toys, cosmetics and plastic bottles. Some of these substances are already banned in EU countries, such as in Scandinavia, but are used in others.



Prenatal blood tests detect cancer signal in some women
By Julie Steenhuysen LA JOLLA, Calif. (Reuters) - A new genetic test that sequences the blood of pregnant women for signs of diseases such as Down Syndrome in their fetuses are turning up unexpected results: a diagnosis of cancer in the mother. In as many as 40 cases, women who took Sequenom Inc's MaterniT21 test, which scans their genetic code and that of their fetus, had abnormal changes that could signify cancer. Such tests from Sequenom and other companies, sequence the mother's blood, which includes both the mother's DNA and fetal DNA from the placenta. Dr. Eunice Lee, 40, a San Francisco anesthesiologist, was one of those women.

San Francisco hospital begins rare six-way kidney transplant chain
Doctors at a San Francisco hospital began an unusual series of kidney transplants on Thursday with six living donors providing organs to six patients in a chain that began with a woman described as an altruistic donor unrelated to any of the recipients. The first donor and recipient went into surgery at California Pacific Medical Center at 7:30 a.m., with two more donor-recipient pairs on the schedule for Thursday, then the remaining three pairs on Friday, hospital spokesman Dean Fryer said. The chain of donations began when Zully Broussard, 55, of Sacramento, whose son and husband both died of cancer, offered to donate a kidney to a friend, but the friend ultimately had to use another donor, according to hospital officials. "I'm excited, not nervous," Broussard told San Francisco’s KNTV news on the eve of surgery.

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