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Health Highlights: May 30, 2017

Experts Cite Concerns About Potential Price of Zika Vaccine Trump Administration Moves to Reverse Birth Control Requirement for Religious Employers

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

Experts Cite Concerns About Potential Price of Zika Vaccine

Public health experts and officials are worried about the potential price of a Zika vaccine that was developed by the U.S. Army.

The Army says it plans to give an exclusive license to the French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur, Inc. to manufacture and sell the vaccine, National Public Radio reported.

Last week, Doctors without Borders, Knowledge Ecology International and several other groups asked the Army to delay granting Sanofi the exclusive license until the company agrees to reasonable price terms.

There are fears that Sanofi could set a price for the vaccine that will be unaffordable for some states, NPR reported.

Sanofi should promise in writing that it won't charge U.S. buyers more than it charges in other wealthy countries, said Rebekah Gee, Louisiana's secretary of health.

"If the American public funds the life-saving intervention, we need price protections for states that have to foot the bill," Gee told NPR.

Currently, there is no vaccine for Zika. The mosquito-borne virus can cause severe birth defects in babies born to infected mothers.

In an April 21, letter, the Army said it must give Sanofi exclusive license because of the "high risk and high costs involved in advanced vaccine development," NPR reported.


Trump Administration Moves to Reverse Birth Control Requirement for Religious Employers

A proposed rule to reverse a federal requirement that many religious employers provide birth control coverage in health insurance plans has been announced by the White House Office of Management and Budget.

The requirement for free birth control coverage was part of the Affordable Care Act, but triggered numerous lawsuits by employers with religious objections, The New York Times reported.

On May 4, President Trump signed an executive order instructing three cabinet departments to consider changes to "address conscience-based objections to the preventive-care mandate."

The White House Office of Management and Budget's website says it is reviewing an "interim final rule" to relax the requirement, a move that will likely lead to a court challenge by women's rights groups, The Times reported.

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