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Wednesday, Aug 20th

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Philip Morris prepared to sue UK over plain cigarette packaging

Philip Morris sues UKPhilip Morris International, the world's largest tobacco company, is prepared to sue the British government should it implement a law requiring plain packaging of cigarettes, a document seen by Reuters on Tuesday showed.

The UK government has conducted a consultation with its Department of Health on potential legislation which would force cigarette makers to sell their products in plain packages with graphic health warnings and no branding.

The maker of Marlboro cigarettes "is prepared to protect its rights in the courts and to seek fair compensation for the value of its property," the company has told the UK government in response to its consultation.

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New Medicaid enrollments top 7 million under Obamacare

Obama care enrollments riseMore than seven million Americans have gained health coverage through government programs including Medicaid since enrollment in Obamacare health insurance was launched October 1, the U.S. administration said on Friday.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said 7.2 million new participants in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program by June brought overall Medicaid enrollment to 66 million people.

The enrollees include uninsured Americans who gained coverage through traditional Medicaid, as well as a special Medicaid expansion in 26 of the 50 U.S. states under President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act.

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WHO declares Ebola epidemic an international health emergency

WHO declards Ebola epidemicWest Africa's Ebola epidemic is an "extraordinary event" and now constitutes an international health risk, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday.

The Geneva-based U.N. health agency said the possible consequences of a further international spread of the outbreak, which has killed almost 1,000 people in four West African countries, were "particularly serious" in view of the virulence of the virus.

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Costs, not science, have delayed Ebola vaccine for years

ebola virusSince March, the Ebola virus has killed at least 932 people in West Africa, the deadliest ever outbreak of the disease, and as the lethal hemorrhagic fever continues its spread, governments are taking drastic measures — from quarantining villages to closing schools — to stem the epidemic.

But perhaps there could have been another option to fight the virus. More than four years ago, a team of U.S. government scientists developed vaccine candidates that shielded monkeys from multiple strains of Ebola. Those vaccines, however, were never tested in human clinical trials — and not because the science wasn’t promising. One small trial on the monkeys, for example, had a 100 percent success rate of protecting the animals from the disease.

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Truth In Labeling: Celiac Community Cheers FDA Rule For Gluten Free

gluten free labelingIf you spot a food package label that says gluten free, you can now be pretty well assured that the label means what it says.

As of Aug. 5, all food manufacturers must be in compliance with a set by the Food and Drug Administration.  The rule states that foods may be labeled "gluten free" only if there's less than 20 parts per million of the protein.

The new regulation is aimed at protecting people with celiac disease, a chronic autoimmune disorder that can destroy the lining of the small intestine.

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Deforestation, development may be driving Ebola outbreaks, experts say

deforestationAs the deadliest ever Ebola outbreak continues its spread in West Africa, scientific evidence suggests that human impact on the environment may have played a role in the latest epidemic.

Researchers say the logging, road construction and even global warming may have precipitated the crisis by bringing animals infected with the disease in closer contact with humans.

“Expansion of human impact can really trigger outbreaks,” said Jonathan Epstein, a veterinary epidemiologist at EcoHealth Alliance. “Deforestation, building roads, expanding farms into areas that used to be dense forest, all those things increase the opportunity for wild animals to get into contact with livestock and humans.”

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Toledo mayor lifts ban on drinking tap water

Toledo Mayor CollinsThe ban of drinking water in northwest Ohio was lifted early today, after tests of Toledo water showed safe levels of the toxin microcystin.

Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins announced at a 9:30 a.m. news conference that all tests in the city showed non-detectable levels of the toxin, meaning that a ban of consumption of the water that had been in place since early Saturday morning was lifted. “Our water is safe,” he said.

To demonstrate his confidence, Mr. Collins finished the news conference by drinking a cup of Toledo water.

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