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Health Highlights: Jan. 23, 2020

Last Updated: January 23, 2020.

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Cheaper Generic Drugs Goal of $55 Million Investment by Major Insurers

A nonprofit that develops and sells cheaper drugs will receive a $55 million investment from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and associated organizations to create cheaper versions of expensive generic drugs.

The nonprofit Civica Rx, which already sells drugs to health systems across the United States, reached the deal with Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and 18 of its member organizations, which insure about 40 million people, The New York Times reported.

The insurers and Civica didn't name specific drugs that would be targeted because they didn't not want to provide that information to potential business rivals.

They said they'd begin with seven to 10 drugs that have little competition and that some of the first medications could become available by early 2022, The Times reported.

The effort could eventually target insulin, according to Maureen Sullivan, the chief strategy and innovation officer at the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.

Insulin has been on the market for decades but recent spikes in its price have made it difficult for many patients to afford, The Times reported.

This partnership "will not solve all the problems of the world, but we do know that 90&337; of prescriptions are generic, and there are certain parts of the generic markets that are not functioning like competitive markets should. And we intend to compete in those markets," Dan Liljenquist, chair of Civica's board, told The Times.

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China Bans Travel in Wuhan, Four Nearby Cities

The city of Wuhan was closed off Thursday by Chinese officials in an attempt to stem the spread of a coronavirus that's sickened more than 570 people and killed at least 17.

Buses, subways and ferries within the city of more than 11 million people were suspended, and planes and trains leaving the city were canceled, The New York Times reported.

Similar measures are taking effect in the nearby cities of Huanggang, with 7 million people, and Ezhou, with 1 million people, The Times reported. Officials also plan to restrict travel in the smaller cities of Chibi and Zhijiang, the newspaper reported.

The measures, taken days before the start of the Lunar New Year when millions of Chinese travel, were needed to "effectively cut off the transmission of the virus, resolutely curb the spread of the epidemic, and ensure the safety and health of the people," Chinese health officials said.

An end date for the restrictions would be announced separately, they added.

Wuhan is the epicenter of the outbreak of the coronavirus, which has already spread halfway around the world, including North America.

In the United States, where a case of coronavirus has already been reported, all airline passengers from Wuhan will be directed to one of five airports where screening of arriving passengers will be conducted.

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Surgical Gown Shortage Seen in U.S.

A surgical gown shortage in the United States is causing surgeries to be postponed, according to CNN.

Cardinal Health this month recalled and told customers to stop using its Level 3 surgical gowns and the procedural packs that contain the gowns due to possible contamination.

More than 9 million gowns were recalled, including 7.7 million distributed to 2,807 facilities across the United States, CNN reported.

The gowns are worn during procedures such as arterial blood draws, IV insertions and in trauma cases, and they are also used in emergency rooms, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The company said it isn't aware of any patients being harmed by the gowns, CNN reported.


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