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Judge Rejects Anti-Vaxxer Lawsuit Against New York City’s Vaccine Mandate

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A state judge on Thursday rejected a lawsuit filed by anti-vaccination parents who sought to lift New York City’s new measles vaccination mandate, as parts of the metropolis continue to face an outbreak.


“A fireman need not obtain the informed consent of the owner before extinguishing a house fire,” Judge Lawrence Knipel wrote in his ruling. “Vaccination is known to extinguish the fire of contagion.”

Five anonymous parents in Brooklyn filed the lawsuit earlier this week against the city health department for ordering the mandatory vaccinations in parts of the borough amid a growing outbreak of the measles virus concentrated in the Williamsburg area. The lawsuit said the city’s response is “irrational,” and that the spread of the virus does not pose a clear danger to public health.

Knipel ruled that the city’s decision to require measles vaccinations during the outbreak is supported by “largely uncontroverted” evidence.

New York City Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot issued the emergency order on April 9, requiring everyone who lives and works within four Brooklyn ZIP codes to receive the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine if they hadn’t already gotten it. Failure to comply with the mandate could result in misdemeanor punishments, including criminal fines or imprisonment.

The city has already issued summons to three people who refused the mandate and face $1,000 in fines.

As of Wednesday, the measles outbreak has infected at least 329 people since October, mostly children from Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn, according to Barbot. Many Orthodox Jewish people believe vaccinations go against Jewish or Talmudic law, resulting in low vaccination rates for some communities.

Barbot praised the decision to dismiss the lawsuit, saying in a statement to HuffPost that it “will protect New Yorkers from a very dangerous infection with potentially fatal consequences.”

She added that officials “do not want to issue violations but will continue and hope that New Yorkers make the best choice for their families, their neighbors and their own health ― to get vaccinated.”

(Reporting by HuffPost)

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Gilead Sciences Announces A Generic Version of Truvada Will Be Available September 2020

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Following a campaign by activists, Gilead announced a generic version of Truvada, or PrEP, will be available next September, a year earlier than expected.

Gilead Sciences announced Wednesday that a generic version of Truvada will be available in September 2020, one year earlier than expected.

Truvada is the pill used for HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP. When taken daily, Truvada prevents HIV transmission.

“Gilead reached an agreement with Teva Pharmaceuticals in 2014 to allow the early launch of a generic version of Truvada into the market in 2020, a year earlier than required,” wrote Douglas Brooks, Gilead’s executive director for community engagement, in an email shared with NBC News by the advocacy group PrEP4All.

The information about generic Truvada is also disclosed on page 35 of a Gilead SEC filing released Wednesday morning.

While a month’s supply of generic Truvada is available in countries around the world for as little as $70, in the United States a month’s supply sells for $1,600 to $2,000, and activists have mounted a pressure campaign to force Gilead to make the drug more widely available in order to curb the global HIV epidemic.

President Donald Trump’s “Ending the HIV Epidemic” plan, announced at this year’s State of the Union address, will rely heavily on Truvada in order to stem the spread of the virus. But Truvada’s high price threatened to make the plan extremely expensive, activists said.

Previously, in a phone call with investors in the second quarter of 2017, then-Gilead CEO John Milligan said, “We don’t expect generic Truvada in the United States until 2021.”

Activists who have been pushing Gilead to #BreakThePatent hailed the news Wednesday, calling it “a victory for the LGBTQ+ community, for HIV activists, and for U.S. taxpayers,” but also tamped down expectations.

In a statement from the PrEP4All Collaboration, Dr. Aaron S. Lord said allowing just one generic manufacturer, Israel-based Teva Pharmaceuticals, to make generic PrEP “will do little to reduce the price in a way that will increase access, and PrEP4All remains suspicious of the terms and lack of transparency surrounding the Teva settlement.”

“What’s to stop them — other from a desire for profit margins — from releasing the rights now?” Lord asked.

PrEP4All had recently publicized news that Gilead’s development and testing of Truvada as PrEP was almost entirely funded by the U.S. government and therefore the CDC, not Gilead, controls the patent for PrEP. That information was first publicized by the Global Health Justice Partnership at Yale University, which wrote “based on our preliminary review, CDC’s Patents for PrEP appear to be valid and enforceable.”

The news that the Justice Department and Gilead were negotiating over the Truvada patent issue was first reported by The Washington Post.

An email addressed to “Colleagues” sent Wednesday morning by Douglas Brooks, Gilead’s senior director for community engagement, said, “Pursuant to a settlement agreement reached in 2014 … Teva will be able to launch generic fixed-dose combinations of emtricitabine and TDF … on September 30, 2020.”

“This agreement is not related to current discussions with the U.S. government to broaden access to Truvada for PrEP for vulnerable populations and support the federal plan to end the HIV epidemic,” Brooks wrote. “Those discussions are ongoing.”

Gilead did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by NBC News)

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“Jeopardy” Host Alex Trebek Diagnosed With Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek says he has been diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer.

In a video posted online Wednesday, the 78-year-old said he was announcing his illness directly to “Jeopardy!” fans in keeping with his long-time policy of being “open and transparent.”

Trebek said he recognizes the prognosis for advanced pancreatic cancer is not encouraging. But he said he intended to fight it and keep working.

He said he hopes to beat the disease’s low survival rate with the love and support of family and friends and with prayers of viewers.

Trebek lightened the message with humor: He said he must beat the odds because his “Jeopardy!” contract requires he host the quiz show for three more years.

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Second Man Seems To Be Free Of AIDS Virus After Transplant

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SEATTLE (AP) — A London man appears to be free of the AIDS virus after a stem cell transplant, the second success including the “Berlin patient,” doctors reported.

The therapy had an early success with Timothy Ray Brown, a U.S. man treated in Germany who is 12 years post-transplant and still free of HIV. Until now, Brown is the only person thought to have been cured of infection with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Such transplants are dangerous and have failed in other patients. They’re also impractical to try to cure the millions already infected.

The latest case “shows the cure of Timothy Brown was not a fluke and can be recreated,” said Dr. Keith Jerome of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle who had no role. He added that it could lead to a simpler approach that could be used more widely.

The case was published online Monday by the journal Nature and will be presented at an HIV conference in Seattle.

The patient has not been identified. He was diagnosed with HIV in 2003 and started taking drugs to control the infection in 2012. It’s unclear why he waited that long. He developed Hodgkin lymphoma that year and agreed to a stem cell transplant to treat the cancer in 2016.

With the right kind of donor, his doctors figured, the London patient might get a bonus beyond treating his cancer: a possible HIV cure.

Doctors found a donor with a gene mutation that confers natural resistance to HIV. About 1 percent of people descended from northern Europeans have inherited the mutation from both parents and are immune to most HIV. The donor had this double copy of the mutation.

That was “an improbable event,” said lead researcher Ravindra Gupta of University College London. “That’s why this has not been observed more frequently.”

The transplant changed the London patient’s immune system, giving him the donor’s mutation and HIV resistance.

The patient voluntarily stopped taking HIV drugs to see if the virus would come back.

Usually, HIV patients expect to stay on daily pills for life to suppress the virus. When drugs are stopped, the virus roars back, usually in two to three weeks.

That didn’t happen with the London patient. There is still no trace of the virus after 18 months off the drugs.

Brown said he would like to meet the London patient and would encourage him to go public because “it’s been very useful for science and for giving hope to HIV-positive people, to people living with HIV,” he told The Associated Press Monday.

Stem cell transplants typically are harsh procedures which start with radiation or chemotherapy to damage the body’s existing immune system and make room for a new one. There are complications too. Brown had to have a second stem cell transplant when his leukemia returned.

Compared to Brown, the London patient had a less punishing form of chemotherapy to get ready for the transplant, didn’t have radiation and had only a mild reaction to the transplant.

Dr. Gero Hutter, the German doctor who treated Brown, called the new case “great news” and “one piece in the HIV cure puzzle.”

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