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U.S. CDC Urges Measles Vaccinations Amid Rising Cases

Reuters reported:

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday issued a health advisory urging people, particularly children and international travelers, to get vaccinated against measles due to the increase in cases this year.

The CDC had recorded 58 cases of the disease across 17 jurisdictions, as of March 14, same as the whole of 2023. Most cases reported this year have been among children aged 12 months and older who had not received the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, the CDC said, and asked healthcare providers to ensure children are vaccinated against the disease.

The agency said the risk of widescale spread was low, given the currently high immunity levels in the population against measles in most U.S. communities, but added some pockets may have a greater likelihood of outbreaks.

The American Medical Association on Monday also urged Americans to get vaccinated against measles.

Ozempic Gets the Oprah Treatment in a New TV Special

TIME reported:

Weight-loss drugs like Ozempic, Wegovy, and Zepbound are already extremely popular: by 2030, about 10% of the U.S. population will be on one of these drugs and the category’s sales will surpass $100 billion, according to some projections. On March 18, they got another major cultural boost from Oprah Winfrey, who shared her own experience with — and support for — these medications in an ABC special called “Shame, Blame and the Weight Loss Revolution.”

The special, which will be available on Hulu starting March 19, spotlights a class of drugs known as GLP-1 agonists, which mimic a hormone that suppresses appetite and controls blood sugar, helping some patients lose roughly 20% of their body weight. These medications include Ozempic and Mounjaro (which are approved to treat Type 2 diabetes but are also used off-label for weight loss) and Wegovy and Zepbound (which are approved as anti-obesity medications).

About three-quarters of Americans say they’re familiar with these drugs, recent polling data from the Pew Research Center show, and that number will likely rise even more after Winfrey’s special. At times, that felt like the program’s whole aim. Winfrey interviewed people who have lost large amounts of weight on GLP-1 drugs, along with executives and paid medical consultants from the pharmaceutical companies that make them. (Ozempic and Wegovy are made by Novo Nordisk, while Mounjaro and Zepbound are made by Eli Lilly.)

Even for people who do have weight-associated health conditions, GLP-1 drugs can come with side effects, including gastrointestinal distress, headaches, pancreatitis, and obstructions of the digestive system. Some researchers have also raised concerns that they may contribute to an elevated risk of thyroid cancer.

Early Stroke Scare With Bivalent COVID Vaccines Unsupported by Large Study — Low Absolute Risk Emerged for Flu Vaccines, However

MedPage Today reported:

Investigation of an early signal for stroke associated with COVID-19 bivalent vaccines turned into suspicion of high-dose or adjuvanted flu shots instead, based on a large U.S. population-based study.

When researchers inspected a large Medicare database, they found no evidence of a significantly elevated risk for stroke at 1-21 days or 22-42 days after vaccination with either of the mRNA COVID vaccines distributed for the 2022-2023 respiratory season when compared with the 43-90 day control window, reported researchers led by Yun Lu, Ph.D., a statistician of the FDA in Silver Spring, Maryland.

There was a significant excess of non-hemorrhagic stroke for people with concomitant administration of Pfizer-BioNTech’s bivalent vaccine plus a high-dose or adjuvanted influenza vaccine during the 22-42 days risk window (risk difference of 3.13 out of 100,000 doses); and a significant excess of transient ischemic attack for people with concomitant administration of Moderna‘s bivalent COVID vaccine plus a high-dose or adjuvanted influenza vaccine during the 1-21 days risk window (risk difference of 3.33 out of 100,000 doses).

But the researchers found that people with administration of a high-dose or adjuvanted influenza vaccine alone (without concomitant COVID vaccination) had an elevated risk for the combined outcome of non-hemorrhagic stroke or transient ischemic attack in both the 1-21 days risk window (risk difference of 1.65 per 100,000 doses) and 22-42 days risk window (risk difference of 1.60 per 100,000 doses).

Electronic Nudges to Get the Flu Shot Fall Short for Vax Rates, Outcomes — More Intensive Interventions Are Likely Needed to Improve Flu Vaccine Uptake

MedPage Today reported:

Electronic nudges sent to patients failed to increase influenza vaccine uptake in one randomized clinical trial, while another trial found that slight increases in vaccination rates from letters emailed to patients failed to impact clinical outcomes.

Neither portal nor text messages to remind patients to get an influenza vaccination were effective at a population level at improving vaccination uptake, Peter Szilagyi, MD, MPH, of the UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital at the University of California in Los Angeles, and colleagues reported in JAMA Internal Medicine. Among patients who received care from 79 primary care practices in a large healthcare system, flu shot rates remained at approximately 47% whether patients received portal messages, text messages, or no reminders at all.

Szilagyi and investigators found that patient portal messages sent monthly or before scheduled visits did not increase influenza vaccination rates.

Bolsonaro Forged COVID Vaccination Proof, Brazil Police Say

Bloomberg reported:

Brazil’s federal police recommended criminal charges against former President Jair Bolsonaro after probing alleged changes to COVID-19 vaccination records records to benefit the conservative leader and close family members.

Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes on Tuesday lifted the confidentiality of the police report, which accuses the former president of criminal association and falsifying data, after local news outlets reported on his indictment.

How Often Should Immunocompromised People Get a COVID Booster? — Experts Say About Every 6 Months, but That Should Be Individualized

MedPage Today reported:

Vaccination against SARS-CoV-2 is now the key prevention strategy for this vulnerable population, and people who are immunocompromised should still get COVID boosters — but, given that they are less likely to generate an adequate immune response to the vaccines, the question is: how often?

Of three clinicians who treat moderately to severely immunocompromised patients and spoke with MedPage Today, all of them offered a similar recommendation: people who are immunocompromised should get a COVID vaccine about every 6 months, with the caveat that intervals between vaccine doses should be tailored to individual patient needs.

Dorry Segev, MD, Ph.D., a transplant surgeon at NYU Langone Health, told MedPage Today that “every 6 months is probably reasonable for most people who are immunocompromised.”

However, he occasionally takes a more individualized approach, depending on the patient’s exposure to high-risk situations, such as those who anticipate being in crowded situations or have a good chance of being exposed to others with COVID. “Maybe that person would consider getting boosted every 3 months,” he said.

‘We Can See This One Coming’: Pharmacists Want Govt to Let Them Give Vaccine Against Measles

The Journal reported:

Pharmacists have said they are “primed, resourced and ready” to contribute to the government’s newly announced MMR Catch-up Vaccination Program in order to stave off an outbreak of measles in Ireland.

Cases of measles are on the rise across Europe and have shown up in Ireland over recent weeks, with the HSE issuing an urgent alert last week to passengers who traveled on a flight from Abu Dhabi to Dublin, which was carrying at least one infected person.

The details of the new program are yet to be published but the Department of Health has said it will prioritize vaccinating children and young adults, healthcare workers and underserved groups such as refugees, asylum seekers and homeless people. Last year, Ireland’s uptake of the MMR vaccine was below 90%, which falls short of the WHO-recommended 95%.

Almost a month ago, the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) said that MMR vaccines should be available in pharmacies, as the ease of accessibility would increase uptake among the public. So far the Department of Health has not opted to bring pharmacists into the program despite the appearance of measles cases in Ireland in recent weeks.

Glyphosate Replacement for Roundup Being Tested by Bayer Amid Lawsuits Over Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma Side Effects

AboutLawsuits.com reported:

Bayer officials say they are in the process of testing a potential replacement for glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup weed killer, which has been linked to an increased risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and generated massive legal liabilities for the company.

The glyphosate replacement is being considered by many to be a “silent” Roundup recall, essentially removing the ingredient from store shelves that tens of thousands of plaintiffs allege has caused them to develop cancer. However, at the same time, the company outwardly continues to suggest it believes glyphosate is safe and plans to continue to promote the Roundup brand, even though the actual weed killer in the products has changed.

Over the past eight years, Bayer and its Monsanto subsidiary have faced more than 167,000 Roundup lawsuits filed throughout the U.S., each raising similar allegations that users were not adequately warned about the risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma from the weed killer, either when using the product in an agricultural setting or around the home.

AstraZeneca Bets on Next-Generation Cancer Therapy With $2 Billion Fusion Deal

Reuters reported:

AstraZeneca (AZN.L) said on Tuesday it will buy Canadian drug developer Fusion Pharmaceuticals Inc (FUSN.O) for $2 billion in cash as the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker bets on next-generation cancer treatments.

The deal gives AstraZeneca a foothold in the radiopharmaceutical drugs market, which has seen increasing investor interest since 2021 when data from Novartis’ (NOVN.S) treatment showed that the drug extended survival for prostate cancer patients.

The Novartis drug was approved in 2022 and the space has seen a flurry of deals since then, including Eli Lilly‘s (LLY.N) $1.4 billion acquisition of Point Biopharma and Bristol Myers Squibb‘s (BMY.N) $4.1 billion deal for RayzeBio last year.