Reuters Health News Summary

Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

Drugmakers eye Africa's middle classes as next growth market

PARIS (Reuters) - For pharmaceutical companies, Africa is changing. Not only is the continent's economic growth grabbing attention in boardrooms but the shifting nature of its disease burden is luring Big Pharma, as new opportunities open up for treating chronic diseases afflicting the middle classes, rather than just fire-fighting infection.

After failed trials, J&J pivots to early-stage Alzheimer's

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A little over a year ago, Dr. Husseini Manji, global head of neuroscience drug development at Johnson & Johnson <JNJ.N>, predicted that brain researchers were on the cusp of a golden age. That was before J&J's highly anticipated Alzheimer's drug, bapineuzumab, failed to improve memory and thinking skills in closely watched clinical trials of people with mild to moderate forms of the disease.

New case of SARS-like virus shows person-to-person transmission

LONDON (Reuters) - A third patient in Britain has contracted a new SARS-like virus, becoming the second confirmed UK case in a week and showing the deadly infection is being spread from person to person, health officials said on Wednesday. The latest case, who is a member of the family of another patient, brings the worldwide number of confirmed infections with the new virus - known as the novel coronavirus or NCoV - to 11.

Meat products have been falsely labeled: EU health chief

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - All companies that have handled falsely-labeled horsemeat are under suspicion, the European Union's health chief said on Wednesday, adding the Commission was considering strengthening relevant law. EU ministers are to meet later on Wednesday in Brussels to work out their response to a scandal over the sale of horsemeat in products sold as containing beef.

Ablynx books success with arthritis drug study

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Belgian biotech firm Ablynx <ABLX.BR> said a clinical study of its rheumatoid arthritis drug ALX-0061 showed promising results and it was now considering how to further develop the drug, including a partnership deal with a bigger company. "We are now investigating the various possibilities through which we can progress the development of ALX-0061, including discussions with potential partners and other paths which will allow us to maximise the value of this asset," Chief Executive Edwin Moses said in a statement on Wednesday.

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UK cost agency says "no" to Novartis blood cancer drug Jakavi

LONDON (Reuters) - A new drug from Novartis <NOVN.VX> for myelofibrosis, a rare blood cancer, is not worth using on the state health service, Britain's healthcare cost watchdog said on Wednesday. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) said it had issued new draft guidance not recommending Jakavi because it could not be considered a cost-effective use of resources.

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Hospital deaths and readmissions not linked: study

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A measure used by Medicare to penalize hospitals for poor performance is not linked to how many patients die after being admitted, suggests a new study. The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on Tuesday, suggests that hospitals can keep the number of patients who come back for more treatment low without having more of them die.

Slow approvals put India's drug trials industry at risk

MUMBAI/NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Slower government approval for testing new medicines is threatening India's aspirations to be a fast-growing, low-cost hub for clinical trials, and has prompted some drugs firms to shift operations elsewhere, adding to their costs. While India's drug regulator and the health ministry's medical research body deny any slowdown, interviews by Reuters with pharmaceutical companies, lobby groups, industry watchers and healthcare activists tell a different story.