Reuters Health News Summary

Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

Insight: Shrinking U.S. labor unions see relief in marijuana industry

WASHINGTON/LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The medical marijuana shop next to a tattoo parlor on a busy street in Los Angeles looks much like hundreds of other pot dispensaries that dot the city. Except for one thing: On the glass door - under a green cross signaling that cannabis can be bought there for medical purposes - is a sticker for the United Food and Commercial Workers union (UFCW), the nation's largest retail union.

Mediterranean diet may be best for diabetes 2013-02-06T173657Z_1_BRE9150ZV_RTROPTC_0_US-DIET-DIABETES.XML () -

Health service, pride of Britain, ravaged by hospital scandal

LONDON (Reuters) - The deaths of hundreds of hospital patients, left without food or water in filthy conditions, exposed an urgent need to change the culture of Britain's National Health Service (NHS), a report said on Wednesday. Between 400 and 1,200 patients are estimated to have died needlessly at Stafford Hospital in central England between January 2005 and March 2009 in one of the worst scandals to hit the NHS since it was founded in 1948.

Social Security, health spending to hit $3.2 trillion a year

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Spending on Social Security and healthcare will double to $3.2 trillion a year over the next decade, threatening a sharp rise in national debt unless Congress acts to avoid the danger, congressional researchers warned on Tuesday. A report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office did not put forth a plan to resolve the long-term imbalance between revenues and spending on retirement and healthcare benefits. But it said that action taken now would help minimize the economic impact of whatever course lawmakers can agree on.

Elan seeks acquisitions after $3.25 billion MS drug deal

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Irish drugmaker Elan <ELN.I> is raising more than $3.25 billion by selling its interests in its main drug and will splash out most of the proceeds on acquisitions, effectively reinventing itself as a company. Under a deal announced on Wednesday, Elan's partner Biogen Idec <BIIB.O> will take full ownership of blockbuster multiple sclerosis (MS) treatment Tysabri and will make an upfront payment to the Irish group plus royalties on future sales.

Europe faces cost cuts as GSK promises return to growth

LONDON (Reuters) - GlaxoSmithKline <GSK.L> plans to cut costs in its struggling European drugs division and promised investors a return to growth this year, after failing to deliver a hoped-for sales and margin recovery in 2012. Britain's biggest drugmaker said a new program to restructure European operations, drug manufacturing and research would save at least 1 billion pounds ($1.6 billion) annually by 2016, with related charges of 1.5 billion pounds.

Baby Boomers' health worse than past generation's

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Members of the baby boomer generation are in worse health than their parents were at the same age, according to a new study. In a large national survey, about 13 percent of baby boomers - the generation born in the two decades after World War Two - reported being in "excellent" health in middle age, compared to 32 percent of the previous generation who said the same at the same stage of life.

U.S. proposes scrapping some obsolete Medicare regulations 2013-02-05T010951Z_2_BRE914024_RTROPTC_0_US-USA-HEALTHCARE-HOSP ITALS.XML () -

U.S. scales back goal on veterans' health records with an eye on costs

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government is ditching ambitious plans to create a single computer system for troops and military veterans to track their health records, opting instead for a more modest, less costly plan that officials said will deliver on goals faster. The decision announced on Tuesday is complicated and technical but goes to the core of President Barack Obama's goal to create a smooth transition for troops as they leave the military after 11 years of war and seek care at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Senate to mull ban on "pay for delay" pharmaceutical deals

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Key Democratic and Republican senators reintroduced legislation on Tuesday that would make it illegal for brand-name pharmaceutical companies to pay generic drug makers to keep their cheaper medicines off the market. Such deals, in which big drug companies resolve patent litigation with potentially infringing generic firms by reaching a settlement that delays a generic version of a drug in exchange for a payment, have angered U.S. and European antitrust enforcers for years.