Health Highlights: May 28, 2019

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

FDA Approves Most Expensive Medicine in U.S. History

The most expensive medicine ever has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Zolgensma is a one-time infusion gene therapy that costs $2.125 million and treats a rare disorder called spinal muscular atrophy, the Associated Press reported.

The inherited condition weakens muscles to the point that the child becomes unable to move, and eventually can’t swallow or breathe. The condition affects about 400 babies born in the U.S. each year.

Zolgensma is sold by Swiss drugmaker Novartis. The company said it will allow insurers to make payments over five years, at $425,000 per year. Out-of-pocket costs for patients will vary based on insurance coverage, the AP reported.

There is another FDA-approved medicine approved for spinal muscular atrophy. It’s Biogen’s Spinraza and is given every four months. The list price is $750,000 for the first year and $350,000 a year after that.


LGBT Health Discrimination Protection Targeted by Trump Administration

Health care discrimination protection for transgender people would be rolled back under a Trump administration proposal.

The proposed regulation from the Health and Human Services Department essentially says that “gender identity” is not protected under federal laws that prohibit discrimination, the Associated Press reported.

The move will lead to wave of discrimination, LGBT groups warn.

There is a 60-day comment period on the proposal, which would face another round of review before being finalized. Court challenges are likely.

This is the latest in series of moves by the Trump administration to limit or revoke Obama-era protections for LGBT people in a number of areas, ranging from housing to military service, the AP reported.


Brain, Heart Deaths More Common in Pro Football Than Baseball

The risk of death from degenerative brain diseases and heart disease is higher among pro football players than baseball players, a new study says.

It included 6,100 athletes born before 1965 who competed for at least five seasons in the NFL or Major League Baseball and who died between 1979 through 2013, the Associated Press reported.

There were 517 deaths among NFL players, at an average age of 60. There were 431 deaths among baseball players, at an average age 67.

Brain diseases caused or contributed to 39 NFL player deaths, compared with 16 deaths among baseball players. Heart disease caused or contributed to 498 deaths among NFL players, compared with 225 deaths among baseball players, the AP reported.

The study was published in the journal JAMA Network Open.

The reasons for the differences between the two groups are unclear, and more studies are needed, the researchers said.