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Updates on drugs used for weight loss; syphilis cases in newborns skyrocketed in 2022

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Hot Off The Wire

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On the version of Hot off the Wire posted Nov. 24 at 6 a.m. CT:

A new large study finds that the popular weight-loss drug Wegovy reduced the risk of serious heart problems by 20% in certain patients. The international trial showed the weekly injections prevented heart attacks, strokes and heart-related deaths. Wegovy is a high-dose version of the diabetes treatment Ozempic. The latest study tested Wegovy in people without the disease. It's being praised as a landmark study that could change the way doctors treat heart disease in some patients. The findings could also shift perceptions that a new class of obesity drugs are cosmetic treatments and put pressure on insurers to cover them.

Federal regulators say a new version of the popular diabetes treatment Mounjaro can be sold as a weight-loss drug. The Food and Drug Administration approved drug named Zepbound on Wednesday. The drug has been shown to help dieters lose 40 to 60 pounds in testing. It is the latest diabetes drug approved for weight loss, joining Novo Nordisk’s Wegovy, a high-dose version of Ozempic. Short supply and high costs have limited access to both medications. The FDA approved the new drug for people considered obese or for those who are overweight and have a weight-related health condition.

A new report says progress against childhood cancers has stalled in recent years for Black and Hispanic youth. Thursday's report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at cancer death rates for children and teens over two decades. The rates for white, Hispanic and Black children started about the same and all went down during the first decade. But then over the next 10 years, only the rate for white children dipped a little lower. Overall, the cancer death rate for children and teenagers declined 24% over the two decades, with the biggest drop in deaths from leukemia.

NEW YORK (AP) — Syphilis cases in U.S. newborns again are on the rise. It has health officials calling for new measures to stop the increase, including encouraging millions of sexually active women of childbearing age and their partners to get tested. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says more than 3,700 babies were born with congenital syphilis in 2022. That's 10 times more than a decade ago and a 32% increase from 2021. CDC officials say there needs to be expanded testing. The agency also suggests starting syphilis treatment as soon as a pregnant woman tests positive.

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s medicines regulator has authorized the world’s first gene therapy treatment for sickle cell disease, in a move that could offer relief to thousands of people with the crippling illness in the U.K. In a statement on Thursday, the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency said it had approved Casgevy, the first medicine licensed using the gene editing tool CRISPR, which won its makers a Nobel prize in 2020. The medicine was approved for patients with sickle cell and thalassemia. Both diseases are caused by mistakes in the genes that carry hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carry oxygen.

—The Associated Press

About this program

Host Terry Lipshetz is a senior producer for Lee Enterprises. Besides producing the daily Hot off the Wire news podcast, Terry conducts periodic interviews for this Behind the Headlines program, co-hosts the Streamed & Screened movies and television program and is the producer of Across the Sky, a podcast dedicated to weather and climate.

Lee Enterprises produces many national, regional and sports podcasts. Learn more here.

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