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Health Highlights: July 27, 2012

'GMA' Host Roberts to Take Medical Leave Late Next Month Settlement Reached in Drug Pricing Lawsuit WHO Official Says 23 Million Need AIDS Drugs As Olympics Begin, London Air Pollution Worst in Six Years Court Ruling Could Lead to Lower Drug Costs

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

'GMA' Host Roberts to Take Medical Leave Late Next Month

"Good Morning America" anchor Robin Roberts says she will "most likely" take medical leave from the show at the end of August or early September for her bone marrow transplant.

Last month, Roberts announced that she has MDS, a blood and bone marrow disease once known as preleukemia, the Associated Press reported.

Speaking via satellite Thursday to reporters gathered for the Television Critics Association conference, Roberts said that it's "fascinating-slash-scary how to prepare yourself for something like this."

When asked how she was feeling, Roberts replied, "I do go through moments of fatigue," the AP reported.


Settlement Reached in Drug Pricing Lawsuit

One of the United States' largest drug wholesalers has reached a $151 million settlement in a lawsuit alleging that it inflated prescription drug prices, leading to millions of dollars in overpayments by states' Medicaid programs.

The settlement with San Francisco-based McKesson Corp. was announced Friday, the Associated Press reported.

The whistleblower lawsuit was launched in 2005 by the federal government and 29 states, including California, Colorado, New Jersey, New York and Washington.

The federal government's part of the lawsuit was settled for more than $187 million in April 2012, the AP reported.


WHO Official Says 23 Million Need AIDS Drugs

The World Health Organization is on track to meet the goal of having 15 million HIV/AIDS patients worldwide taking life-saving drugs by 2015, and the next step is to aim to have 23 million people taking the drugs.

That was the message delivered by WHO's Dr. Gottfried Hirnschall at the International AIDS conference, the Associated Press reported.

The additional eight million people would include those who aren't yet as sick with AIDS but require drug treatment to reduce their chances of spreading HIV, such as people in high-risk populations and in relationships with healthy partners, and pregnant women who need to keep taking the drugs after their babies are born.

Countries need to expand HIV testing so they can start reaching these people, said Hirnschall, who noted that "now is not the time to be timid," the AP reported.


As Olympics Begin, London Air Pollution Worst in Six Years

A heat wave has caused air pollution in London to reach it highest level in six years, a situation that could affect athletes' performances at the Olympics.

Recent sunshine and low winds are "exactly the conditions that can bring summertime smog to London," the environmental experts from King's College London said in a statement Thursday, the Associated Press reported.

They launched a website that provides hourly quality updates on a street-by-street and Olympics venue-by-venue basis. London has the largest and most advanced air quality monitoring systems in Europe.

This week's warm weather in London is expected to be replaced by cold and rain over the weekend, the AP reported.


Court Ruling Could Lead to Lower Drug Costs

A recent court decision could lead to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the common practice of big-name drug companies paying generic drug makers to keep competing products off the market for years.

On July 16, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia ruled that the practice is anticompetitive on its face. That decision conflicts with at least three other federal circuit court rulings, The New York Times reported.

The opposing judgments could end up before the Supreme Court and its ruling could have a major effect on drug prices and health care costs.

If the Supreme Court ruled against the practice, brand-name drug makers would face lower profits while insurance companies, pharmacies and patients could benefit from the savings associated with increased competition in the drug market, The Times reported.


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