Health Highlights: Nov. 28, 2016

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

Bill Seeks to Speed Approval of New Drugs, Therapies

A bill meant to speed approval of new drugs and medical devices in the United States is scheduled for a vote in the House of Representatives this week.

The $6.3 billion bill, which also aims to increase biomedical research, would streamline how federal regulators assess the safety of new therapies in order to make them available to patients sooner, the Associated Press reported.

The bill would provide new money for the National Institutes of Health ($4.8 billion) and the Food and Drug Administration ($500 million), as well as $1 billion in grants to states to fight opioid abuse.

Republicans said the measure was final, but aides to Democrats said discussions were still ongoing, the AP reported.


HIV Vaccine Clinical Trial Begins in South Africa

An experimental HIV vaccine being tested in a clinical trial in South Africa could be the “final nail in the coffin” for the AIDS-causing virus, according to a U.S. government official.

The trial begins Wednesday and seeks to enroll 5,400 sexually active men and women, ages 18-35, at 15 sites across South Africa, the Associated Press reported.

The vaccine in the new trial is based on one used in a 2009 trial in Thailand that was found to be 31.2 percent effective at preventing HIV infection for 3.5 years after vaccination.

The new vaccine was created to provide stronger and longer protection, and was adapted to the HIV subtype that predominates in southern Africa. Each day in South Africa, more than 1,000 people are infected with HIV, the AP reported.

“If deployed alongside our current armory of proven HIV prevention tools, a safe and effective vaccine could be the final nail in the coffin for HIV,” Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in a statement.

“Even a moderately effective vaccine would significantly decrease the burden of HIV disease over time in countries and populations with high rates of HIV infection, such as South Africa,” he said, the AP reported.

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