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Health Highlights: Nov. 14, 2019

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

WHO to Test, Approve Generic Insulin

Testing and approval of generic insulin will be conducted by the World Health Organization in an attempt to combat rising prices and shortages of the drug.

About half of the 80 million people with diabetes worldwide who require insulin can’t afford the medication. WHO says new generic versions could create competition that would drive down prices, The New York Times reported.

The global insulin market is controlled by three companies — Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi — and they’ve steadily increased prices for two decades.

“Four hundred million people are living with diabetes, the amount of insulin available is too low and the price is too high, so we really need to do something,” Emer Cooke, WHO’s head of regulation of medicines and health technologies, said as she announced the generic insulin approval plan, The Times reported.


First Ebola Vaccine Approved by European Commission

The world’s first Ebola vaccine has been approved by the European Commission, and it was quickly pre-qualified by the World Health Organization.

The Ervebo vaccine is made by Merck and is being used in a “compassionate use” capacity in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, site of the second-largest, second-deadliest Ebola outbreak on record, ABC News reported.

The WHO’s pre-qualification of the vaccine means that it meets the agency’s quality, safety and efficacy standards.

The vaccine’s approval is “a historic step,” according to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, ABC News reported.

“Five years ago, we had no vaccine and no therapeutics for Ebola,” he said in a statement. “With a pre-qualified vaccine and experimental therapeutics, Ebola is now preventable and treatable.”


Minimum Age to Buy Tobacco, E-Cigarette Products Raised to 21 in NY State

The minimum age to buy tobacco and e-cigarette products in New York State is now 21.

The new law took effect on Wednesday and officials said that state police and the Department of Health will conduct undercover investigations of retailers to enforce it, CNN reported.

“The goal of this law is simple: to prevent cigarettes and vaping products from getting into the hands of our youth, creating an addiction to a deadly habit,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement earlier this month.

“We are taking aggressive action to make sure the decades of progress we’ve made to combat tobacco addiction is not undone by a sharp rise in e-cigarette use among younger New Yorkers,” he added.

Almost 27% of high school students in New York use e-cigarettes, state health department data shows.

New York is the 18th state to make 21 the minimum age to buy tobacco and e-cigarette products, according to the Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation. In September, New York became the first state to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes and nicotine e-liquids, CNN reported.

Copyright © 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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