The U.S. Justice Department filed a notice of appeal Wednesday over a federal judge's ruling that directed the Food and Drug Administration to make the morning-after birth control pill available to females of all ages without a prescription.
The government also filed a motion for a temporary stay of the FDA's approval on Tuesday of the availability of the Plan B One-Step emergency contraception pill without a prescription for ages 15 and older.
In April, U.S. District Judge Edward Korman ordered the FDA to make emergency contraception, namely the morning-after pill, available to females of any age, without a prescription. This week's FDA announcement, which pertains to an application from Teva Women's Health, Inc., is not related to that, the FDA said.FULL STORY
As the death toll from China's bird flu outbreak rose to 22 with news of another victim in eastern Zhejiang Province, the World Health Organization warned the H7N9 virus was one of the most lethal that doctors and medical investigators had faced in recent years.
"This is an unusually dangerous virus for humans," Keiji Fukuda, WHO's assistant director-general for health, security and the environment told a news conference in Beijing Wednesday.
"We think this virus is more easily transmitted from poultry to humans than H5N1," he added, referring to the bird flu outbreak between 2004 and 2007 that claimed 332 lives.
"This is definitely one of the most lethal influenza viruses that we have seen so far."
An inquest into the death of an Indian dentist in Ireland after she was reportedly denied an abortion for her miscarrying fetus is due to open Monday in Galway.
The death of Savita Halappanavar at University Hospital Galway on October 28, 2012, prompted anger in Ireland and elsewhere, and sparked demands for Ireland to introduce new abortion laws.
The Halappanavar family says Savita died of blood poisoning after doctors declined to abort her miscarrying fetus because of Ireland's strict laws. Her husband says she was advised her unborn baby would likely die.
Praveen Halappanavar says his wife, who was in extreme pain, asked for the abortion, but was told that Ireland is a Catholic country and an abortion could not be done while the fetus was alive.
More details may emerge at Monday's hearing into the events leading to the 31-year-old's death.FULL STORY
[Updated at 7:40 a.m. ET] Chinese authorities have killed more than 20,000 birds from a live-poultry trading zone in Shanghai after an unusual strain of bird flu that has so far killed six people in the country was found in pigeons on sale in the city, state-run media Xinhua reported Friday.
Details of the slaughter of chickens, ducks, geese and pigeons come as the city prepares to temporarily close all its live poultry markets. It wasn't clear how long the market closures – announced Friday on the Shanghai Municipal Government's microblog account – would last.
[Posted at 1:27 a.m. ET] A sixth person in eastern China has died from an unusual strain of bird flu, Chinese health authorities said Friday.
A 64-year-old man died Thursday night in Huzhou, Zhejiang province, the provincial health bureau said Friday. He died hours after doctors had confirmed he had been infected with the H7N9 virus, it said.
The H7N9 strain of bird flu had not been detected in humans before the recent Chinese cases, which authorities began reporting on Sunday.FULL STORY
President Obama on Tuesday will unveil a $100 million initiative to research the human brain, in hopes of unlocking further understanding of brain disorders.
The initiative, dubbed Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies, or BRAIN, "aims to help researchers find new ways to treat, cure, and even prevent brain disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy, and traumatic brain injury," the White House said.FULL STORY
As Mayor Michael Bloomberg vowed would happen, the New York City Law Department has filed an appeal after a New York judge scrapped the city's controversial ban on big containers of soda.
"Consistent with our desire to get a quick appellate review, the city filed its brief with the appeals court this week," said Fay Ng, senior counsel for the department's appeals division, in a written statement. "The sugary drinks proposal is an important part of the mayor's health initiative."
The Board of Health regulation would limit the size of drinking cups for sugary beverages to a maximum of 16 ounces at food service establishments in the city.
The regulation was adopted in September to help lower obesity rates, but a state Supreme Court judge overturned it as "arbitrary and capricious."FULL STORY
Michigan's attorney general has requested a criminal investigation into the conduct of an embattled Massachusetts company linked to a recent deadly fungal meningitis outbreak.
Michigan had at least 259 infections and 14 deaths, leading the nation in people affected by the outbreak last year, said Bill Schuette, the state's attorney general.
The outbreak, linked to tainted steroid injections from New England Compounding Center, killed 51 people and infected 730 people in 20 states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.FULL STORY
A Maryland man recently died of rabies that he contracted from a tainted organ he received in a transplant operation more than a year ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.
Health care teams are now giving anti-rabies shots to three other patients who received organs from the same donor as the Maryland man, the CDC said.FULL STORY
There has been another confirmed case of a mysterious new SARS-like virus.
The Saudi health ministry informed the World Health Organization that a 39-year-old man was hospitalized with the novel coronavirus on February 28 and died two days later.FULL STORY
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is "fighting for his life," the country's vice president said late Friday.
Chavez began chemotherapy after his fourth cancer surgery in Cuba in December, Vice President Nicolas Maduro revealed for the first time, and is continuing the "intense" treatment at a military hospital in Caracas.
The lifetime risk of contracting certain types of cancer rose only slightly for a small group of people, due to exposure to radiation from the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the World Health Organization said Thursday.
Otherwise, any increase in human disease in the wake of the partial meltdown triggered by the March 2011 tsunami is "likely to remain below detectable levels," according to the report.
People exposed in childhood in towns close to the Daiichi power plant are slightly more likely to contract leukemia, breast or thyroid cancer in the course of their lives than the general population, the WHO said.FULL STORY
Rafi Kopelan is a typical 5-year-old. She's mastered Candyland. She's learning to read. Given a choice, she'd spend hours on the swings at the playground.
But unlike her classmates, Rafi's body is covered in blisters from her scalp to her feet. Her corneas are scratched. Her toes are fused together. And her esophagus is lined with so much scar tissue that she can barely swallow.
That's because Rafi was born with a rare connective tissue disorder called epidermolysis bullosa (EB). The genetic disease causes her skin to break down in response to the slightest friction. Even minor contact - the scratch of a fingernail, the tag on the back of her shirt - causes her skin to tear or to erupt in blisters, leaving 75% of her body covered in painful, open lesions.FULL STORY
A total of 47 states reported "widespread" geographic influenza activity, down from 48 last week. "Widespread" means that more than 50% of geographic regions in a state - counties, for example - are reporting flu activity. This is a measure of the spread of the flu, not its severity.
High levels of influenza-like illness were seen in 26 states, representing a decrease from the 30 reported last week. Cases in the Southwest and Northwest were rising, but levels seem seem to be declining in the South, Southeast, New England and the Midwest.FULL STORY
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has just released its weekly update on influenza in the U.S. and an early look at the data shows the problem is spreading.
Thirty states now report high levels of influenza-like illness, the CDC says. That's six more than reported high levels last week. California joins the list of states reporting widespread flu activity, meaning 48 states now report widespread flu.
Hospitalizations of elderly people are rising, according to the report.
We'll bring you more details from the report as soon as we get them.FULL STORY
The number of states reporting high levels of influenza activity has dropped, but flu activity still remains "elevated" in most of the United States, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.
Twenty-four states and New York City are reporting high levels of influenza activity as of the week ending January 5 – down from 29 states the previous week, the CDC's Dr. Thomas Frieden said.
"It may be decreasing in some areas, but that's hard to predict ... influenza activity ebbs and flows," Frieden said.
President Obama will be sworn in for a second term in office on Monday, January 21. Watch CNN.com Live for all your inauguration coverage.
Today's programming highlights...
10:00 am ET - NASA satellite briefing - Hear from NASA officials about this month's launch of the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-K.
A Massachusetts pharmacy linked to a meningitis outbreak says its cleaning contractor should share blame for an apparent mishap that left dozens dead nationwide.
The New England Compounding Center sent a letter to UniFirst Corp. demanding it share responsibility for a tainted steroid used to treat pain and inflammation, according to a filing this week with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The company said that it "seeks to establish a fund to compensate individuals and families affected" by the outbreak, which has been linked to 39 fatalities among the 656 cases tallied in 19 states.
Patients contracted fungal meningitis after their spines were injected with a contaminated steroid called methylprednisolone acetate, health officials have said. According to health agencies, the compounding center did not follow proper sterilization procedures and distributed its products without knowing whether they had passed sterility tests.FULL STORY
Legislators in the Philippines have passed a birth-control bill that will open the door for free contraceptives and government-funded sex education.
Voting for the legislation was carried live on CNN affiliate ABS-CNN in the Philippines.
The bill was strongly opposed by the Catholic Church. It awaits the signature of President Benigno Aquino III to become law.FULL STORY
Federal inspectors found crawling insects, corroding walls and concerns about safety and quality safeguards at a drug-making facility run by the company tied to a deadly meningitis outbreak, according to a report released today.
The toll from the ongoing fungal meningitis outbreak continues to climb, with health authorities reporting 328 infections on Thursday - up 11 from the previous day.
In its latest update, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there were 323 cases of fungal meningitis plus five related peripheral joint infections. The agency reports 24 deaths tied to the outbreak, the same number as on Wednesday.
The illnesses, which first emerged just over a month ago, have been linked to tainted products from the New England Compounding Center. The Food and Drug Administration has since issued a warning covering medications from the compounding pharmacy that have been distributed since May 21 at more than 3,000 medical facilities nationwide.