Reuters Health News Summary

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Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

U.S. lawmakers pledge action after meningitis outbreak

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic and Republican lawmakers

said on Thursday they would alter the regulation of drug

compounding pharmacies in hopes of preventing more crises like

the rare fungal meningitis outbreak that has now cost 32 lives.

The outbreak of 461 cases in 19 states has been linked to

tainted steroid injections from a Massachusetts pharmacy and

led to public condemnation of the U.S. Food and Drug

Administration and state pharmacy regulators for failing to act

against known problems over the course of a decade.

Novartis wins EU okay for first meningitis B vaccine

LONDON (Reuters) - The first vaccine against meningitis B

has been recommended for approval in Europe in a boost for its

maker Novartis , which has struggled in the vaccines

field against larger rivals. The European Medicines Agency

(EMA) said on Friday that its experts had given a green light

to Bexsero for the prevention of "MenB". There is currently no

approved vaccine offering broad protection against this

particular type of meningitis.

EU watchdog endorses Sanofi diabetes and cancer drugs

LONDON (Reuters) - Sanofi won the backing of

European regulators for two new drugs against diabetes and

cancer on Friday, a shot in the arm for the French company's

drive to bring new products to market. New diabetes drug

Lyxumia was recommended for treating type 2 diabetes and

Zaltrap was endorsed for the treatment of advanced colorectal

cancer, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said.

Big rise in Americans with diabetes, especially in South

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A breakdown of U.S. diabetes cases

shows dramatic increases in the number of people diagnosed with

diabetes overall between 1995 and 2010, with especially sharp

increases among people in the South and in Appalachian states.

According to a study released on Thursday by the U.S. Centers

for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of diagnosed

cases of diabetes grew by 50 percent or more in 42 U.S. states,

and by 100 percent or more in 18 states.

Rising obesity strains Europe's shrinking health budgets

LONDON (Reuters) - More than half of Europeans are obese or

overweight, adding significant pressure to healthcare costs at

a time when spending is being cut by governments, the OECD and

European Commission said on Friday. On average across the

European Union, health spending per capita rose by 4.6 percent

a year in real terms between 2000 and 2009, but fell 0.6

percent in 2010.

U.S. gives states more time to make Obama health law


WASHINGTON/CHICAGO (Reuters) - The federal government on

Thursday gave states another month to decide if they will

operate insurance exchanges under the new U.S. healthcare law,

after some Republican governors stalled in the hope President

Barack Obama would lose last week's election. The delay was the

second time in a week that Health and Human Services Secretary

Kathleen Sebelius showed flexibility on deadlines as a way to

entice states to cooperate in implementing Obama's signature

domestic achievement.

Ireland to clarify abortion rules after woman's death

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland's government pledged on Thursday

to clarify its abortion laws after an Indian woman who was

refused a termination died from blood poisoning in an Irish

hospital. Thousands took to the streets to protest on Wednesday

after news broke of the death of Savita Halappanavar of

septicemia following a miscarriage 17 weeks into her pregnancy.

Walking, cycling may ease cancer-related fatigue: study


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"Exposure" to U.S. may raise immigrants' obesity risk

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A new study finds that the

longer immigrants from Mexico, and their U.S.-born offspring,

spend in the United States, the greater their odds of becoming

obese. Compared to similar individuals living in Mexico,

researchers found the grandchildren of immigrants to the U.S.

from Mexico were three times more likely to be obese adults.

Australia quarantines farm to contain H7 bird flu outbreak

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia's first outbreak of a highly

pathogenic bird flu virus in 15 years should be contained by a

cull of 50,000 chickens, authorities said on Friday, although

they do not know what caused the case at an egg farm in New

South Wales state. The Department of Primary Industries (DPI)

said all chickens at the property in Maitland, 160 km (100

miles) north of Sydney, will be destroyed after the H7 virus

was detected last week.