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UK court rejects Big Tobacco’s appeal against plain packaging

Britain got the go-ahead on Thursday to make plain packaging compulsory on cigarettes when a UK court rejected a legal challenge brought by the world's top four tobacco companies. Philip Morris International, British American Tobacco, Japan Tobacco International and Imperial Brands had argued the law, due to come into force on Friday, unlawfully took away their intellectual property.

Guinea govt says two people have died from Ebola

Two people from the same family have died from Ebola in Guinea, the government said Thursday, as the WHO declared a flare-up of the virus in neighbouring Sierra Leone over. The cases are the first in Guinea since the country was declared Ebola free at the end of last year, and the UN health agency warned that a recurrence of the tropical disease — which has claimed 11,300 lives since December 2013 — remained a possibility. WHO declared that flare-up officially over on Thursday after no new cases were seen for 42 days — the length of two Ebola incubation cycles.

U.S. House Speaker Ryan rules out work with Obama on immigration

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) – House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan on Sunday ruled out working with President Barack Obama on overhauling U.S. immigration policy, saying it would be “a ridiculous notion” to pursue legislation because Obama cannot be trusted on the issue. Republicans have fought Obama's unilateral steps that bypassed a gridlocked Congress to try to shield millions of illegal immigrants from deportation. Obama's executive orders, announced last November but put on hold by the courts, would let up to 4.7 million illegal immigrants stay without threat of deportation.

U.S. courts reject Virginia killer’s bids to avoid execution

A convicted Virginia serial killer’s legal efforts to avoid execution on Thursday were rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court and a federal appeals court. Alfredo Prieto, a 49-year-old native of El Salvador, had been scheduled to be executed at 9 p.m. at the Greensville Correctional Center. Prieto was convicted in two 1988 Virginia murders and had been on death row in California.

U.S. jury clears Pfizer in second trial over Zoloft

By Jessica Dye NEW YORK (Reuters) – A U.S. jury on Thursday said Pfizer Inc was not responsible for birth defects in a young girl whose mother took its antidepressant Zoloft while pregnant, the second straight win for the company out of hundreds of similar lawsuits. Plaintiff Rachel Robinson claimed in her 2011 lawsuit that Pfizer failed to warn that using Zoloft during pregnancy could cause birth defects and sought damages from the company after her now eight-year-old daughter was born with a rare, serious heart problem. Following a week-and-a-half long trial in state court in Philadelphia, jurors on Thursday returned a verdict for the company, according to Pfizer spokeswoman Neha Wadhwa.

Ivory Coast launches enrollment for universal healthcare scheme

Ivory Coast launched enrollment for a planned universal healthcare program on Thursday with initial government financing of 20 billion CFA francs ($34.67 million), the scheme’s director said. The West African nation is expecting 4 million people to sign up this year, in a country where officials say less than five percent of the population is covered by health insurance. Low-cost treatment of basic health problems is due to begin in September before expanding next year.

Environmental, public health groups sue FDA over feed additive

By P.J. Huffstutter CHICAGO (Reuters) – A group of environmental and public health groups sued the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday, seeking to set aside the agency’s approvals for feed additives containing ractopamine that are used to boost the weight of cattle and pigs. The groups, in two related lawsuits filed in federal court, claim that the FDA failed to adequately assess environmental and health issues related to ractopamine. Used for more than a decade in the U.S. …