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Study: Novel heart failure drug shows big promise

NovartisA new study reports one of the biggest potential advances against heart failure in more than a decade - a first-of-a-kind, experimental drug that lowered the chances of death or hospitalization by about 20 percent.

Doctors say the Novartis drug - which doesn't have a name yet - seems like one of those rare, breakthrough therapies that could quickly change care for more than half of the 6 million Americans and 24 million people worldwide with heart failure.

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Fracking Link to Birth Defects Probed in Early Research

Fracking linked to birth defectsThe first research into the effects of oil and gas development on babies born near wells has found potential health risks. Government officials, industry advocates and the researchers themselves say more studies are needed before drawing conclusions.

While the findings are still preliminary, any documented hazards threaten to cast a shadow over hydraulic fracturing, or fracking -- the process of blasting chemicals, sand and water deep underground to extract fuel from rock that’s helped push the U.S. closer to energy self-sufficiency than at any time since 1985.

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U.S. judge halts major part of Texas law restricting abortions

Texas abortion lawA U.S. judge struck down parts of a law seen as restricting abortions in Texas, saying in a decision on Friday that a provision requiring clinics to have certain hospital-like settings for surgeries was unconstitutional.

"The act's ambulatory-surgical center requirement places an unconstitutional undue burden on women throughout Texas," U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel said in his decision.

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Senegal confirms first case of Ebola

Ebola in SenegalThe first case of Ebola has been confirmed in Senegal, a major hub for West Africa’s business and aid community, Health Minister Awa Marie Coll Seck told a news conference on Friday.

The minister said the case was a Guinean national who had arrived from the neighboring West African country, where the deadly virus was first detected in March.

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Big Food to divulge chemical info

Big Food to reveal chemicalsFood companies are trying to beat the federal government’s push to make chemicals in food more transparent.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents America’s biggest food companies, announced a major new initiative Wednesday that will give the Food and Drug Administration access to a large database of safety information for chemicals commonly used in processed foods, from Twinkies to almond milk.

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WHO: Ebola outbreak accelerates, could infect 20,000 people

Ebola outbreakThe Ebola outbreak could infect more than 20,000 people within nine months, and efforts to halt its spread could cost up to half a billion dollars, the World Health Organization said Thursday.

In an assessment released Thursday, the U.N. agency said the epidemic "continues to accelerate" with more than 40 percent of reported cases occurring within just the last three weeks.

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3 ways insurers can still avoid covering the sick

Insurers can avoid high risk patientsInsurers can no longer reject customers with expensive medical conditions thanks to the health care overhaul, but there's still wiggle room for them to discourage the sickest and costliest patients from enrolling.

Insurance companies can exclude some well-known cancer hospitals or certain individual specialists who treat pricey conditions from the list of providers they cover under a plan. They can dissuade HIV patients from signing up for coverage by requiring heavy initial payments of the bill for their prescriptions. They also might simply wait for competitors to jump into a market first and take all the risky patients who were hungry for coverage.

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