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  • Lithuania to slaughter 20,000 pigs as swine fever spreads

    Lithuanian authorities on Thursday ordered the slaughter of 19,400 pigs at one of the country's largest farms as an outbreak of African swine fever (ASF) in the region spread. It was first case of ASF to be found in farm pigs in the Baltic country, Chief Veterinary Officer Jonas Milius said, amid an outbreak in which cases have appeared in neighboring countries. Poland has also reported ASF cases at farm pigs near its border with Belarus. ASF was found after pigs in the Rupinskai farm near the Belarusia and Latvia borders began dying in larger numbers than usual on Wednesday, the farm's owner, Danish firm Idavang, said.

  • U.N. rights body criticizes Ireland on abortion, church homes

    A woman holds a candlelit vigil outside University Hospital Galway in GalwayBy Padraic Halpin DUBLIN (Reuters) - A United Nations human rights panel has told Ireland it should revise its highly restrictive abortion laws and that allegations of abuse of women and children at Catholic-run homes must be better investigated. Following months of polarizing debate in the Roman Catholic country, Ireland's parliament voted to allow limited access to abortion for the first time last year but restricted it to cases when a woman's life is in danger. The U.N. Human Rights Committee remained highly critical of the law, saying Ireland should revise it to provide for additional exceptions in cases of rape, incest, serious risks to the health of the mother, or fatal fetal abnormality. "The Committee reiterates its previous concern regarding the highly restrictive circumstances under which women can lawfully have an abortion in the state," it said following hearings last week when Committee Chairman Nigel Rodley said Irish law treated women who were raped as a "a vessel and nothing more".


  • Massachusetts monks tap brewing tradition to support aging members

    Trappist Monks pray during a service at Saint Joseph's Abbey in SpencerBy Scott Malone SPENCER Mass. (Reuters) - Tucked off a two-lane highway in a hilly, wooded section of central Massachusetts, a group of Roman Catholic monks has embraced a centuries-old tradition they hope can sustain their aging members in a world of rapidly rising health costs. "We're trying to reinvent our economy," said Father Isaac Keeley on a recent tour of the abbey's low-slung stone buildings and starkly modern 30,000-square-foot brewery, nestled in a wooded property some 60 miles (97 km) west of Boston. "The health costs are huge," said Father Dominic Whedbee, the abbey's 65-year-old prior, the group's second-ranking member.


  • Chinese police arrest man after nursing home patients castrated

    Police in China have arrested a man on suspicion of castrating or partially castrating four patients at a nursing home, state media said on Thursday, the latest scandal to hit the country's medical sector. Doctors discovered on Tuesday that three men at the nursing home in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang had had either one or both of their testicles removed with a blunt razor, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

  • Britain files criminal charges against Alstom UK unit

    The logo of French power and transport engineering company Alstom is pictured on the roof of the company's plant in ReichshoffenBritain's leading fraud prosecutor on Thursday charged a British subsidiary of French engineering group Alstom with three offences of corruption and three offences of conspiracy to corrupt after a five-year investigation. The charges by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), flagged by the agency's head David Green in a Reuters interview on Wednesday, come just weeks after the French parent agreed a 12.4 billion euro (9.8 billion pounds) sale of most of its power business to U.S. conglomerate General Electric (GE). Officials for Alstom in Paris declined to comment. The charges against Alstom Network UK relate to large transport projects in India, Poland and Tunisia carried out between June 2000 and November 2006, the agency said.


  • GSK asks European regulator to OK malaria shot

    LONDON (AP) — Pharma giant GSK said Thursday it is submitting its malaria vaccine for regulatory approval to the European Medicines Agency.

  • China probes food businesses; Hong Kong bans imports in meat safety scare

    A security personnel stands guard in front of an OSI's food processing plants in LangfangChina's food regulator has visited close to 600 restaurants, businesses and food distributors as it investigates a fast-spreading food safety scare that has dragged in a number of global brands and hit food outlets as far away as Japan. Hong Kong said on Thursday it suspended, with immediate effect, all imports from the U.S.-owned Chinese supplier at the center of the latest scare. It was unclear when the company last shipped its products to Hong Kong. Shanghai police detained five people on Wednesday, including the head and the quality chief of Shanghai Husi Food, a supplier to foreign fast-food brands including KFC, McDonald's Corp and coffee chain Starbucks Corp over allegations it supplied out-of-date meat.


  • GSK seeks approval for world's first malaria vaccine

    A jogger runs past a signage for pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline in LondonBy Kate Kelland LONDON (Reuters) - GlaxoSmithKline said on Thursday it is applying for regulatory approval for the world's first vaccine against malaria, designed for use in children in Africa. The British drugmaker said the shot, called RTS,S, is intended exclusively for use outside the European Union but will be evaluated by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO). Malaria, a mosquito-borne parasitic disease, kills more than 600,000 people a year, mainly babies in the poorest parts of sub-Saharan Africa. Yet hopes that RTS,S would be the final answer to wiping out malaria were dampened when results from a final-stage trial in babies aged six to 12 weeks showed the shot provided only modest protection, reducing episodes of the disease by 30 percent compared to immunization with a control vaccine.


  • U.S. paves way for Novartis to copy Amgen biotech drug

    Logo of Swiss drugmaker Novartis is seen at its headquarters in Basel(Reuters) - U.S. regulators have accepted an application by Sandoz - the generics arm of Novartis - seeking approval for a copycat version of Amgen's drug Neupogen, or filgrastim, for patients with low white blood cell counts. The Food and Drug Administration's decision to accept the filing under a new pathway for so-called biosimilar drugs marks a milestone in the rollout of cheaper copies of injectable biotech medicines in the United States. Sandoz said on Thursday that overcoming the first hurdle in the approval process was an important step in increasing U.S. patient access to such treatments. The generics company already sells a biosimilar version of Amgen's drug in more than 40 other countries, but the United States has been slower than other markets to establish a regulatory framework for biosimilars.


  • Atox Bio raises $23 million to fund flesh-eating bacteria treatment

    Israel-based Atox Bio, a developer of therapeutics for severe infections, said on Thursday it has raised $23 million in an investment round led by SR One, the healthcare venture capital fund of GlaxoSmithKline. Lundbeck's Lundbeckfond Ventures and OrbiMed Israel also invested. The funds will enable Atox Bio to initiate a late stage clinical study of AB103, for the treatment of necrotizing soft tissue infections (NSTI), commonly referred to as the "flesh eating bacteria" and other severe infections. AB103 completed a Phase 2 study in patients with NSTI.