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'This is a big win': Pesticide linked to brain damage in children banned in California

Pinot Noir grapesA widely used agricultural pesticide that California environmental officials have said has been linked to brain damage in children will be banned after next year under an agreement reached with the manufacturer, state officials announced Wednesday.

Under the deal, all California sales of chlorpyrifos will end on Feb. 6, 2020, and farmers will have until the end of 2020 to exhaust their supplies.

The pesticide is used on numerous crops in the nation’s largest agriculture-producing state – including alfalfa, almonds, citrus, cotton, grapes and walnuts.

State regulators have said chlorpyrifos has been linked to health defects in children, including brain impairment, and to illnesses in others with compromised immune systems.

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24 state attorneys general launch legal challenge against Purdue Pharma

24 state AG's sue Purdie Pharma

US Attorneys General from 24 states and Washington, D.C. launched a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma this week in an attempt to block the OxyContin maker from avoiding thousands of lawsuits after filing for bankruptcy, Reuters reported.

The state officials objected to Purdue Pharma’s request that a U.S. bankruptcy judge block the more than 2,600 lawsuits seeking billions in damages, according to court filings, Reuters reported.

The lawsuits argue that the company, along with the Sackler family, were a catalyst in the opioid crisis across the country by not disclosing the addictive risks of opioids.

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Federal judge temporarily blocks Georgia abortion law

Federal judge temporarily blacks Georgia abortion law

A federal judge on Tuesday ruled to temporarily block a Georgia abortion law that would ban the procedure once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which generally occurs within six weeks of a pregnancy.

The move follows a series of similar decisions to block restrictive abortion laws from going into effect in a slate of other states. Georgia’s law had been scheduled to become enforceable starting on January 1.

The American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a challenge in June to block the law, which Gov. Brian Kemp (R) signed in May.

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Doctors Without Borders Slams World Health Organization for ‘Rationing’ Ebola Vaccine

Doctor without BordersThe aid group Doctors Without Borders is accusing the World Health Organization of rationing the Ebola vaccine in the Democratic Republic of Congo—which WHO immediately denied. In a statement, the doctors organization said there is enough vaccine to inoculate up to 2,500 people a day, but far fewer are actually getting the shot.

“It’s like giving firefighters a bucket of water to put out a fire, but only allowing them to use one cup of water a day,” emergency coordinator Natalie Roberts said. More than two dozen people have died during the current outbreak in Congo, where medical aid workers have faced suspicion and violent attacks.

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Cancer worries halt shipments of generic Zantac

Zantac recall

A division of Swiss pharmaceutical maker Novartis is halting distribution of generic Zantac pills over concerns about an ingredient possibly linked to cancer.

Novartis-owned Sandoz has issued a "precautionary distribution stop" of all medicines containing ranitidine, an antacid and antihistamine used to block stomach acid.

The stop "in all our markets will remain in place" until "further clarification," Novartis said.

"Our internal investigation is ongoing to determine further details," the company said.

The move came after the Food and Drug Administration last week said it had detected low levels of a probable carcinogen in the heartburn drug Zantac and its generic versions.

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OxyContin Maker Purdue Pharma Files for Bankruptcy to Wipe Out 2,000 Lawsuits

Purdue Pharma files for bankruptcyPurdue Pharma, the company that made billions selling the prescription painkiller OxyContin, filed for bankruptcy in White Plains, New York, days after reaching a tentative settlement with many of the state and local governments suing it over the toll of opioids.

The filing was anticipated before and after the tentative deal, which could be worth up to $12 billion over time, was struck.

“This settlement framework avoids wasting hundreds of millions of dollars and years on protracted litigation,” Steve Miller, chairman of Purdue’s board of directors, said in a statement, “and instead will provide billions of dollars and critical resources to communities across the country trying to cope with the opioid crisis. We will continue to work with state attorneys general and other plaintiff representatives to finalize and implement this agreement as quickly as possible.”

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Rise in health uninsured may be linked to immigrants’ fears

Health insurance descreaseWhen the Census Bureau reported an increase in the number of people without health insurance in America, it sent political partisans reaching for talking points on the Obama-era health law and its travails. But the new numbers suggest that fears of the Trump administration’s immigration crackdown may be a more significant factor in the slippage.

Overall, the number of uninsured in the U.S. rose by 1.9 million people in 2018, the agency report this past week. It was the first jump in nearly a decade. An estimated 27.5 million people, or 8.5% of the population, lacked coverage the entire year. Such increases are considered unusual in a strong economy.

The report showed that a drop in low-income people enrolled in Medicaid was the most significant factor behind the higher number of uninsured people.

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