NEW YORK (AP) â The government's latest report card on food poisoning shows a dip in salmonella cases but an increase in illnesses from bacteria in raw shellfish. The report counts cases in only 10 states for some of the most common causes of foodborne illness, but is believed to be a good indicator of national food poisoning trends. Highlights from Thursday's report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
UnitedHealth Group Inc, the largest U.S. health insurer, said it spent more than $100 million to cover a pricey new hepatitis C drug from Gilead Sciences Inc in its first three months on the market, an amount that was "multiple" times what it had expected. UnitedHealth is the first insurer to quantify its costs to cover patients using Gilead's new Sovaldi treatment, whose $84,000 price tag has spurred a national outcry over the rising costs of specialty medicines. UnitedHealth shares fell nearly 4 percent on Thursday and shares of rivals WellPoint Inc and Aetna Inc fell 3.8 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively, as investors weighed what their potential costs could be as well. Sovaldi has been shown to cure most patients of the liver-wasting virus with few side effects, but health officials, insurers and Medicaid directors are balking at the cost.
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) â The mix of 38 million gallons of treated water and one teen's urine has proven unacceptable to Portland officials who plan to flush away the whole lot â the second time in less than three years the city has gone to such lengths to keep its water pure.
By Anne Harding NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Older people are willing and able to get themselves off medications like sleeping pills once they're informed of the potential harms, according to a new Canadian study. "Even among patients who have been taking sleeping pills for 30 years, many of them in their 80s and 90s were able to get off the sleeping pills once they realized that these pills could cause falls, memory problems and car accidents," lead author Dr. Cara Tannenbaum of the University of Montreal Reuters Health. While Valium, Xanax and similar medications, known as benzodiazepines, are not recommended for older adults given such risks, up to one-third of older adults still take them, usually to treat insomnia or anxiety, according to Tannenbaum and her colleagues. Doctors know about the dangers these drugs pose to their patients, the investigators write in JAMA Internal Medicine, but nearly half say they renew benzodiazepine prescriptions for their older patients anyhow, "citing patient dependence and benefit as justifications." Tannenbaum's team wanted to see whether educating older patients taking benzodiazepines about the risks would be an effective way to encourage some to stop using the drugs.
By Eric Kelsey LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A director of the popular "X-Men" films, Bryan Singer, has been accused of drugging and raping a teenage boy in California and Hawaii in the late 1990s, according to a lawsuit filed in U.S. court. The lawsuit filed on Wednesday, just weeks before the release of Singer's upcoming "X-Men: Days of Future Past," alleges the 48-year-old used his influence as a Hollywood insider as well as a range of drugs and alcohol to force anal and oral sex on the boy. Michael Egan seeks unspecified damages and a jury trial after wide-ranging abuses at California and Hawaii house parties beginning in the late 1990s, according to the civil action filed in Hawaii federal court. Singer's attorney, Marty Singer, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Hundreds of Neanderthals' genes were turned off while the identical genes in today's humans are turned on, the international team announced in a paper published online in Science. They also found that hundreds of other genes were turned on in Neanderthals, but are off in people living today. Among the hundreds: genes that control the shape of limbs and the function of the brain, traits where modern humans and Neanderthals differ most. "People are fundamentally interested in what makes us human, in what makes us different from Neanderthals," said Sarah Tishkoff, an expert in human evolution at the University of Pennsylvania, who was not involved in the new study.
By David Lawder WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama's fiscal 2015 budget request would boost U.S. tax revenue by nearly $1.4 trillion over 10 years if fully enacted, slashing deficits by $1.05 trillion while funding new spending, the Congressional Budget Office said on Thursday. The likelihood that Congress will advance Obama's plan in its entirety is virtually nil, but the CBO's latest analysis will feed campaign messaging by Democrats and Republicans ahead of congressional elections in November. The analysis by the nonpartisan agency compares Obama's request with a new CBO "baseline" estimate released last week that assumes no changes to current tax and spending laws. But Obama's budget plan is loaded with policy changes, including an assumption that sweeping immigration reforms will be enacted, producing a net 10-year deficit reduction of $158 billion.
Thanks to a final April surge, California's Obamacare marketplace enrolled a total of 1.4 million people in private health insurance plans, state officials announced on Thursday, beating a federal forecast by just over 800,000 enrollees. California's Obamacare enrollments are among 7.5 million people nationally who have signed up, according to federal officials. Peter V. Lee, executive director of Covered California, the state's Obamacare health insurance marketplace, called that "a huge number" and said enrollees "are part of history." The country's first open enrollment period for coverage under President Barack Obama's healthcare reform law ended in most states on March 31. California and a handful of others kept their doors open longer, citing technical difficulties that kept some customers from accessing Obamacare websites.
By Rodrigo Campos NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks advanced slightly in choppy trading on Thursday after three days of gains, as underwhelming results from tech bellwethers Google and IBM were offset by upbeat quarterly numbers, including those from Morgan Stanley and General Electric. The latest data showed the U.S. economy's health was improving. The combined reported and expected earnings-per-share growth estimate for S&P 500 components rose to 1.7 percent from Wednesday's 0.6 percent, Thomson Reuters data showed, indicating most companies that reported results in the past 24 hours exceeded expectations. The technology sector capped the S&P 500's gain, with Google shares down 3.2 percent at $545.81 and IBM off 3.2 percent at $190.28 after both reported earnings late Wednesday that failed to impress Wall Street.