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India steps up fight against cigarette firms over health warnings

By Aditya Kalra NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India's health ministry has ordered government agencies to enforce a new rule for bigger health warnings on cigarette packs, stepping up a fight against the country's $10 billion cigarette industry that has shut down its factories in protest. The health ministry's action highlights a growing conflict between the tobacco industry and the federal government which wants manufacturers to cover 85 percent of a cigarette pack's surface in health warnings, up from 20 percent. India's biggest cigarette maker ITC Ltd, part-owned by British American Tobacco, has not implemented the government order, saying it contradicts a parliamentary committee's recommendation for warnings to cover half a cigarette pack.

Chile reports first case of sexually transmitted Zika

Authorities Saturday reported the first sexually transmitted case of Zika in mainland Chile, where there is no known presence of the mosquito generally blamed for passing on the virus suspected of causing birth defects. The Health Ministry said a 46-year-old woman contracted the virus from a man who had become infected in Haiti. “This is the first documented case of Zika virus through sexual transmission in mainland Chile, where there is no presence of the Aedes aegypti mosquito that transmits the disease,” the ministry said in a statement.

South Korea reports 14 more MERS cases, fifth death

South Korean health officials on Sunday reported 14 more cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, bringing the total in the country’s outbreak to 64, and said a fifth person infected with the virus had died. South Korea’s outbreak of the often-deadly MERS virus, first reported on May 20, is the largest outside the Middle East, prompting public fear and questions over the government’s initial response. The patient who died was a 75-year-old man who had been in the same Seoul hospital emergency room where a total of 17 people, including two medical staff, are believed to have been infected with MERS, South Korea’s health ministry said.

Germany in push to encourage antibiotics development

By Ludwig Burger FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Germany is looking to encourage the development of more powerful antibiotics against the growing threat of drug-resistant superbugs, the country’s pharmaceutical industry association said on Wednesday. The health ministry in Berlin is to hold talks later this year with Germany’s pharma lobby VFA, which will propose loosely modeling any new rules for antibiotics on the so-called orphan drug status that is awarded to experimental treatments of rare diseases, VFA’s chairman Hagen Pfundner said.