Kaiser Health News Original Stories
Patients Seek Mental Health Care From Their Doctor But Find Health Plans Standing in the Way
Despite a consensus that patients should be able to get mental health care from primary care doctors, insurance policies and financial incentives may not support that. (Aneri Pattani, 6/27 )
Some People in This Montana Mining Town Worry About the Dust Next Door
Residents of a Butte neighborhood are concerned about the dust from a nearby open-pit mine that can coat their homes and vehicles. In a city where past mining left a legacy of soil and water pollution, is the air unsafe, too? (Katheryn Houghton, 6/27 )
‘An Arm and a Leg’: Good News for Your Credit Report
In July, credit reporting bureaus will start taking paid medical debt off people’s credit reports. Here’s what you need to know. (Dan Weissmann, 6/27 )
Political Cartoon: 'Curious?'
Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Curious?'" by Tom Campbell.
Here's today's health policy haiku:
No mRNA,
Novavax shot is old school.
Line up, ye doubters!
– Mark Fotheringham
If you have a health policy haiku to share, please Contact Us and let us know if we can include your name. Haikus follow the format of 5-7-5 syllables. We give extra brownie points if you link back to a KHN original story.
Opinions expressed in haikus and cartoons are solely the author's and do not reflect the opinions of KHN or KFF.
First Take
FDA Authorization For Novavax's Covid Vaccine Endorsed By Advisory Panel
The Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee voted 21-0 in favor of the Food and Drug Administration granting emergency use authorization for the Novavax covid vaccine. If the FDA adopts the recommendation, a fourth shot option may soon be available in the U.S.
Stat: FDA Advisers Recommend Authorization Of Novavax's Covid-19 Vaccine
Experts who advise the Food and Drug Administration voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to recommend the agency issue an emergency use authorization for Novavax’s Covid-19 vaccine — a long-awaited win for a company that has struggled to get to this point. The Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee voted 21 to 0 to recommend that the vaccine receive an EUA, with a single abstention. The strong vote belied the tenor of much of the day’s discussion, which started with one member of the committee, Eric Rubin, editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, questioning whether additional EUAs are needed when three vaccines are already in use in the country. (Branswell, 6/7)
Politico: FDA Advisers Vote To Recommend Novavax Covid-19 Vaccine 
The committee agreed that the FDA should come to an agreement with Novavax on how the company will identify and evaluate a possible causal link between its vaccine and cases of heart inflammation. FDA reviewers said they suspect such an association based on a handful of myocarditis and pericarditis cases that arose during the clinical trial within days of immunization, though the company has argued there’s not yet enough evidence to establish a definitive link. The FDA added a warning last summer to the fact sheets for Pfizer’s and Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccines about the rare risk of developing inflammatory heart conditions. (Gardner and Foley, 6/7)
The Washington Post: FDA Advisers Recommend Authorizing Novavax Coronavirus Vaccine 
Bruce Gellin, chief of global public health strategy at the Rockefeller Foundation, abstained from voting but said he was giving the vaccine a “conditional yes.” He said the vaccine was shown to be generally safe and effective when clinical trials were conducted but that “we don’t know whether that is true today.” He said it was important to monitor the vaccine’s performance as it comes into use. (Johnson and McGinley, 6/7)
Reuters: Novavax COVID Shot, Aimed At Vaccine Skeptics, Overwhelmingly Backed By FDA Panel
The timeline for Novavax is not clear. Novavax Chief Commercial Officer John Trizzino said the agency is still reviewing documents detailing its manufacturing processes submitted last week. "We hopefully expect to have product in the U.S. in our warehouse by the end of June," he said in an interview, adding that the company plans to ship millions of doses made by its partner, the Serum Institute of India, soon after authorization. (Erman and Mishra, 6/7)
AP: FDA Advisers Back Novavax COVID Shots As 4th US Option 
Large studies in the U.S., Mexico and Britain found two doses of the Novavax vaccine were safe and about 90% effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19. One complication: Those studies were done far earlier in the pandemic. Novavax chief medical officer Dr. Filip Dubovsky said tests of a booster dose revved up virus-fighting antibodies that could tackle the omicron mutant, data that FDA will have to consider later. This type of vaccine “we think generates a broad immune response against a broad array of variants,” he told the FDA advisory panel. (Neergaard, 6/7)
Outbreaks and Health Threats
CDC Posts, Then Deletes, Guidance On Airborne Risks Of Monkeypox
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it removed the recommendation that travelers worried about monkeypox should wear a mask because it was causing confusion. Although public health officials have been linking many of the cases in this outbreak to close sexual contacts, monkeypox can also be spread through the air for short distances.
The New York Times: Monkeypox Can Be Airborne, Too 
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance last week for travelers wishing to protect themselves against monkeypox. This was one of its recommendations: “Wear a mask. Wearing a mask can help protect you from many diseases, including monkeypox.” Late Monday night, that recommendation was deleted. However, the agency still says that in countries where monkeypox is spreading, “household contacts and health care workers” should consider wearing masks. That guideline also applies to “other people who may be in close contact with a person who has been confirmed with monkeypox.” The turnabout hints at a little-discussed aspect of the current monkeypox outbreak: The virus can be airborne, at least over short distances. (Mandavilli, 6/7)
Reuters: U.S. CDC Removes Mask Recommendation From Monkeypox Travel Notice To Avoid Confusion 
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Tuesday it had removed a mask recommendation from its monkeypox travel notice to avoid "confusion" over the disease, which primarily spreads through direct contact. "Late yesterday, CDC removed the mask recommendation from the monkeypox Travel Health Notice because it caused confusion," a CDC spokesperson said on Tuesday. (6/7)
CNN: CDC's Travel Advisory On Monkeypox: 'Practice Enhanced Precautions' 
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an "Alert — Level 2" advisory for travelers to "practice enhanced precautions" because of the spread of monkeypox, a rare disease that's a cousin of smallpox. On its advisory, the CDC said that the "risk to the general public is low, but you should seek medical care immediately if you develop new, unexplained skin rash (lesions on any part of the body), with or without fever and chills." (Brown, 6/7)
Cases are ticking up —
AP: Arizona's 1st Probable Monkeypox Case In Maricopa County
Arizona health officials announced Tuesday that they have identified the state’s first probable monkeypox case in Maricopa County. They said testing at the Arizona State Public Health Laboratory returned a presumptive positive result and confirmatory testing is underway at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Officials said the case involves a man in his late 30s who is currently in isolation and recovering. (6/7)
The Texas Tribune: Texas Reports Its First Case Of Monkeypox In Dallas County 
Texas health officials said Tuesday they have identified the first case of monkeypox in the state this year, but noted the illness does not currently present a risk to the general public. The case was identified in a Dallas County resident who recently traveled internationally, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. The department is working with Dallas County Health and Human Services and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate the case. Health officials said they have also identified a “few” people who may have been exposed to the virus in Dallas. Those people are monitoring themselves for symptoms of infection, officials said. (Lenzen, 6/7)
The Hill: Here Are The States With Monkeypox Cases
The U.S. has not reported any deaths from the monkeypox cases, and officials are working to contain cases by identifying who was exposed to the virus and getting them a vaccine. There are currently more than 30 cases in the nation. (Lonas, 6/7)
Also —
Stat: Lessons From AIDS Crisis Guide Response To Monkeypox Outbreak 
As officials, researchers and activists scramble to control an emerging monkeypox outbreak, many are doing so with another virus constantly wedged in the back of their minds: HIV. The parallels between the two infections are limited but clear. Although the monkeypox strain now in circulation is infinitesimally milder than HIV — zero fatalities have been reported out of the more than 1,000 cases so far — it is another virus that emerged in sub-Saharan Africa and has popped up outside the continent largely in men who have sex with men. “There are, you know, echoes,” said Chris Beyrer, director of the Duke Global Health Institute. (Mast, 6/8)
Gun Violence
Senate Gun Talks At Pivotal Point But Quick Action Unlikely
Some lawmakers say they are encouraged that negotiations could yield new gun measures. Yet, as the players shift, a compromise is still far off. And others worry that the limited proposals that could pass wouldn't do enough to curb the spate of violence.
Reuters: U.S. Senate Democrats Say Getting Closer To Gun-Violence Compromise 
Democrats in the U.S. Senate said on Tuesday they were encouraged by talks with Republicans on firearms legislation, but warned that any compromise would fall well short of all the steps they say are needed to curb gun violence. "Every day we get closer to an agreement, not farther away," said Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, who is working with Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas on a possible deal. (Cowan and Sullivan, 6/7)
The Washington Post: After Uvalde, Hopes For Quick Gun Legislation Fade; Senate Negotiators Plead For Patience 
Senators buckled down Tuesday for days of additional negotiations on a response to recent high-profile mass shootings, retreating from earlier calls for quick action even as they expressed optimism that a long-elusive deal to address gun violence might eventually be possible. The calls for patience came as a small bipartisan group of senators continues delicate talks on a legislative package that could include the first significant new federal gun restrictions in three decades, along with provisions dealing with school security and mental health. But they are fighting a tide of recent history demonstrating that Congress’s appetite for action tends to quickly fade as tragedies such as the killings in Buffalo and Uvalde, Tex., last month fade from the headlines. (DeBonis, 6/7)
NBC News: John Cornyn, 'Linchpin' Of A Gun Safety Deal, Seeks To Tame GOP Fears On Gun Rights
As bipartisan talks on legislation to tackle gun violence heat up, the chief Senate Republican negotiator, John Cornyn of Texas, has found himself in a familiar place: swatting away unfounded claims that the Senate is scheming to trample the Second Amendment. “I want to be clear, though: We are not talking about restricting the rights of current law-abiding gun owners or citizens,” Cornyn said Monday in a floor speech. “What I’m interested in is keeping guns out of the hands of those who, by current law, are not supposed to have them: people with mental health problems, people who have criminal records.” (Kapur, 6/8)
Oklahoman: Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole Signals House GOP Opposition To Gun Bills
U.S. Rep. Tom Cole signaled House Republican opposition on Tuesday to a package of gun bills headed for a House vote after a string of mass shootings, saying the legislation was “deeply misguided.” Cole, of Moore, the top Republican on the House Rules Committee, said he understood “the outrage, the anger and the frustration that emerges” after shootings like the recent ones in Uvalde, Buffalo and Tulsa. But he said the proposed “red flag” law could deny due-process rights, while legislation banning high-capacity magazines and raising the age to buy some semi-automatic firearms could deny Second Amendment rights. Cole said the country was “in the midst of a widespread mental health crisis.” (Casteel, 6/7)
CNN: Conservative Wyoming Senator Rethinking Gun Legislation After Constituents Flood Her Office With Calls Urging Action
In the immediate aftermath of the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting, which left 19 children and two teachers dead, Republican Sen. Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming said she doubted that ideas being weighed in Congress to curb gun violence would be welcomed in her very pro-gun state. … But two weeks later, Lummis signaled a fresh openness Tuesday to find legislative solutions to gun violence after she was "surprised" that her office was flooded with calls from constituents expressing a deep desire to do something to stop the spate of mass shootings across the country. (Barrett, 6/7)
NBC News: Lucy McBath, Who Lost Her Son To Gun Violence, Plans To Introduce Red Flag Law To Congress
Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Ga., lost her 17-year-old son, Jordan Davis, after a man complaining about loud music opened fire on a car of teens at a Jacksonville, Florida, gas station in 2012. … The life-altering loss of her son turned the former flight attendant into an advocate, one who subsequently assumed public roles with Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. At the 2016 Democratic National Convention, McBath joined fellow Black mothers who’ve lost children to violence as one of the Mothers of the Movement. (Owens, 6/8)
On gun violence and its effect on mental health —
CNN: Student Who Survived Uvalde Shooting And Others Testify On Gun Violence At House Hearing On Wednesday 
A House committee will hear testimony on gun violence at a hearing on Wednesday, including from a fourth-grade student who survived the horrific mass shooting last month at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, that shocked the nation. Eleven-year-old Miah Cerrillo spoke with CNN recently about her experience and described in chilling detail how she had been afraid the gunman would kill her so she had smeared herself with a friend's blood and played dead. Wednesday's hearing will provide a high-profile platform for Cerrillo and others directly impacted by gun violence to tell their harrowing stories to the American public. It is rare for Congress to hear testimony from someone as young as Cerrillo on a subject as sensitive and disturbing as gun violence. (Foran, 6/8)
Houston Chronicle: Santa Fe School Shooting Survivors Feel Betrayed By Texas
After Santa Fe, lawmakers put together nearly $100 million for mental health resources for teens and children. Only about an eighth of districts across the state used any of the funds for mental health support, according to the School Safety Center’s report. A state task force later discovered the Texas Education Agency wasn’t actually measuring the impact of those programs, and couldn’t even count the number of students served or “any standard outcomes” they measure. In the days after the Uvalde massacre, Abbott issued a slew of press releases. During a news conference in Uvalde, he said he considered the work of the 2019 legislative session “one of the most profound” lawmaking efforts not just in Texas, but “in any state” to address school shootings. (Barned-Smith and Dexheimer, 6/7)
The Guardian: ‘They Had No Empathy’: For Gun Violence Survivors, Police Response Can Be Retraumatizing
For Americans who have lost family members to gun violence, the scene outside Robb elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, was all too familiar. The yellow caution tape. The distraught parents shouting at law enforcement officials and begging them for action or answers. And the officers’ response: reports and footage of relatives being restrained and allegations that some parents were even handcuffed or Tasered. “They had no empathy,” Yvonne Trice, an activist from California whose son was killed in 2015, said of the police treatment of relatives in Uvalde. (Beckett, 6/6)
Also —
ABC News: Yubo App Allegedly Used By Uvalde Gunman Adds New 'Safety Features' Following Shooting
Representatives of the social media app Yubo said on Tuesday that the platform is adding new safety features and updating its usage guidelines following news that the accused Robb Elementary School gunman allegedly used the app to send disturbing messages that appear to have gone unnoticed in the days leading up to the deadly shooting. … Yubo representatives said that since the Uvalde shooting, they have updated the app's risk-detection policy, enhanced its user-reporting capabilities, and introduced audio-moderation technology for live streams that they say will allow for "comprehensive automatic moderation across the platform." (Steakin, 6/7)
Reproductive Health
Mass Shootings, Abortion Case Prompt DHS Warning Of Elevated Threats
The Department of Homeland Security warned of potential violent threats and extremist activity over the next several months An anti-abortion center in Buffalo and a pregnancy clinic in North Carolina are in the news for being targeted already.
CNN: DHS Bulletin Warns US Could See More Volatile Threats Fueled By Election Misinformation And Upcoming Supreme Court Abortion Ruling 
The Department of Homeland Security is warning that threats in the US could become even more volatile throughout the summer and midterm election season, fueled by election year misinformation and potential violence surrounding an upcoming Supreme Court ruling on abortion rights. "Threat actors have recently mobilized to violence due to factors such as personal grievances, reactions to current events, and adherence to violent extremist ideologies, including racially or ethnically motivated or anti-government/antiauthority violent extremism," a National Terrorism Advisory System bulletin issued Tuesday said. (Wild, 6/7)
Reuters: Uvalde Shooting, Abortion Ruling Heighten U.S. Extremist Threats, DHS Says 
On abortion rights, the advisory said both proponents and opponents have encouraged violence on public forums ahead of the Supreme Court's expected decision overturning the landmark 1973 Roe v Wade ruling that legalized the procedure nationwide. (Ayyub, 6/7)
AP: Police: New York Anti-Abortion Center Damaged By Arson
Police are investigating a fire at an anti-abortion center in a Buffalo suburb early Tuesday as a likely arson — one the center’s operators suspect is the work of women’s rights extremists. The fire was reported at about 3 a.m. and left the building temporarily unusable, CompassCare Chief Executive Jim Harden said. (6/7)
The Charlotte Observer: Vandals Leave Bloody Trail, Red Graffiti At Pregnancy Clinic, North Carolina Cops Say 
Painted on the property were the messages, “If abortions aren’t safe, neither are you!” and “No forced birth,” as well as an anarchist symbol, according to a news release from the Asheville Police Department. Officers also found blood left on a window and “bloody trail” on the property that they believe came from one of the vandals who injured themselves, the police said. (List, 6/7)
Daily Beast: Arrest Made After Vile Abortion Threat Is Left On Chuck Schumer’s Voicemail
A man had been charged with threatening to kill Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) over Schumer’s criticism of the Supreme Court’s leaked draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade. According to a probable cause statement, filed in the U.S. District Court in Southern California and first obtained by The Daily Beast, Jonathan Ryan McGuire left Schumer a vile, expletive-filled voicemail at his D.C. office on May 3 that said, in part, “You can’t murder babies anymore. … If I ever get an opportunity, I’ll blow your … head off.” (Tecotzky, 6/1)
In other news on reproductive rights and same-sex marriage —
ProPublica: Missouri Helps People Divert Taxes To Crisis Pregnancy Centers 
In the final days of Missouri’s legislative session in May 2019, lawmakers turned their focus to a bill that would outlaw abortion in the state if the U.S. Supreme Court were to overturn Roe v. Wade. The abortion ban passed by the legislature and signed by Gov. Mike Parson remains in limbo, at least for now. A leaked draft opinion suggests the high court is preparing to overturn the landmark 1973 ruling, which would trigger bans in Missouri and about a dozen other states. But another piece of the same Missouri bill that has garnered far less attention has already taken effect. It has funneled millions of tax dollars to fight abortion, and it may well move tens of millions of dollars more to that battle — a drain on state revenues that legislative oversight officials failed to forecast. (Kohler, 6/7)
Poynter: Media Unions Seek To Protect Members’ Access To Abortion Through Health Care Plans 
As the country braces for a Supreme Court decision that could overturn Roe v. Wade, journalism unions are trying to secure abortion access for their members through their health care plans. The three largest unions representing journalists — the NewsGuild; the Writers Guild of America, East; and SAG-AFTRA — have all released statements condemning a leaked draft of a Supreme Court majority opinion that seems poised to overturn the landmark Roe case, which made access to abortion a constitutional right. Members and units within those unions are working to add provisions to their contracts that would ensure their health insurance covers abortion care. (Fu, 6/6)
Salt Lake Tribune: Worries About Possible Supreme Court Action Has Utah Lawmaker Pushing To Repeal The State’s Ban On Same-Sex Marriage
Sandwiched between an American and a pride flag, Sen. Derek Kitchen said Tuesday he’s worried the Supreme Court may soon end the nationwide right for same-sex couples to marry. “When one fundamental right is under attack, all fundamental rights are under attack,” Kitchen said during a news conference on the steps of the Utah Capitol. What has him worried is the looming Supreme Court ruling that could overturn the 1973 landmark ruling in Roe v. Wade, which made abortion legal in all 50 states. Last month a leaked draft Supreme Court opinion authored by Justice Samuel Alito had the court striking Roe. Legal experts contend Alito’s reasoning in that leaked opinion could pave the way to overturn other Supreme Court decisions, including the 2015 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage. If that were to happen, same-sex unions would become illegal in Utah again because there is still a statute and a constitutional amendment banning those marriages on the books. (Schott, 6/7)
Nebraska Legislature Nears Super-Majority That Could Ban Abortion
With a recent Senate appointment, Nebraska's one-chamber legislature is one vote away from passing a constitutional amendment that would automatically outlaw abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned. Meanwhile, as primaries shape the fall election, voters say the abortion issue will influence their actions.
AP: With New Senator, Nebraska Abortion Opponents Gain Ground
Abortion-rights opponents inched closer to a filibuster-proof super-majority in the Nebraska Legislature on Tuesday that would let them outlaw the procedure if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns its landmark legalization ruling, as it appears poised to do. Nebraska lawmakers were two votes short this year on a bill that would have automatically banned abortions if the court gives states that power. (Schulte, 6/8)
The Hill: More Voters Than Ever Say Abortion Will Be Important Factor In Elections: Gallup
More registered voters now say candidates must align with their views on abortion to win their vote than at any time during Gallup’s polling on the issue, according to a new survey. Twenty-seven percent of registered voters in the Gallup poll released on Monday agree that candidates must share their views on abortion to receive their vote, the highest percentage recorded by the survey giant, which first asked voters about abortion issues in 1992. (Dress, 6/6)
Where do candidates stand on abortion? —
Politico: Abortion Access Could Soon Be Decided By The States. Here’s What The Next Governors Say
Washington won’t determine the landscape if the Supreme Court upends the current national order on abortion — it will be up to each state and their governors and legislators to set abortion policy within their borders. That has piled new policy pressure on this year’s most competitive gubernatorial races, where most Republican and Democratic candidates have polar opposite views on abortion and the winners will have broad latitude to set policy in states where their party also controls the legislature. POLITICO sent a five-question survey to leading gubernatorial candidates in seven battleground states — Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan — asking candidates to explain where they stand on one of the most contentious issues of the 2022 midterms. (Montellaro, 6/8)
San Jose Spotlight: San Jose Mayoral Candidate Catches Heat Over Endorsement
Two Democratic institutions in Santa Clara County are taking last-minute punches at a contender in the San Jose mayor’s race. Both groups are zeroing in on support he’s received from a conservative organization and questioning his stance on abortion. The Santa Clara County Democratic Central Committee recently adopted a resolution calling on San Jose mayoral candidate and Councilmember Matt Mahan to renounce an endorsement he received from the Silicon Valley Association of Republican Women—an organization that has hosted speakers who expressed support for political violence and spread misinformation about COVID-19 treatments, according to the chair of the county’s democratic party. (Wolfe, 6/7)
Raleigh News & Observer: NC Candidates On Abortion Positions If Roe V Wade Overturned
Candidates running in this year’s U.S. Senate race and in each of North Carolina’s 14 congressional districts would be able to draft and vote on possible federal legislation related to abortion. And at the state level, lawmakers in the state Senate and House could pass legislation restricting or banning abortion within North Carolina if the Supreme Court lifts the federal protections of Roe. As part of our Voter Guide for the statewide primary elections on May 17, we asked all candidates running in contested primaries for Congress and the state legislature in five Triangle counties what should happen if the Supreme Court overturns Roe. Questionnaires went to candidates in Wake, Durham, Orange, Chatham and Johnston counties; they were not sent to candidates who are not on the primary ballot. (6/7)
Axios: Washington State Democrats Plan To Hit GOP Candidates Hard On Abortion
Abortion rights are most likely safe in Washington state, but Democrats here still plan to focus heavily on the issue in this year's midterm elections. Why it matters: Democrats have been preparing to lose seats this fall in both Congress and the state Legislature. Now, they believe outrage over the U.S. Supreme Court potentially overturning Roe v. Wade could help mobilize liberal voters, possibly preventing some of those losses. What they're saying: State Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, who chairs the state House Democratic Campaign Committee, told Axios, "I think the 2022 election is going to be a referendum on reproductive freedom." (Santos, 6/6)
The Nevada Independent: On The Record: Where Do Top Candidates Stand On Abortion?
Though abortion rights in the Silver State have been protected by state law for more than 30 years and are unlikely to shift based on the Supreme Court decision, the outcome of the state’s congressional and Senate and gubernatorial elections will likely have implications for abortion protections at the federal level and contraceptive access. To help readers discern where candidates fall on various issues of abortion access, The Nevada Independent sent out the following list of questions to candidates in the U.S. Senate, congressional and gubernatorial races. (Mueller, Calderon and Golonka, 5/29)
Anchorage Daily News: Q&A With Alaska U.S. House Candidates: What Is Your Position On Abortion?
The Anchorage Daily News asked candidates for U.S. House running in the special primary election to answer a series of questions. Read all of their responses here. What is your position on abortion? (5/15)
The Washington Post: Stacey Abrams, A Prominent Champion Of Choice, Once Opposed Abortion
Today, Stacey Abrams, 48, is unequivocal in her support of abortion rights: “For me, the conversion was slow, but it was true and it remained. Because fundamentally, the answer is that this is a medical decision and it is a personal decision. And in neither of those two instances should there be any intervention by a politician.” … [But] Abrams was still firmly against abortion in the early 1990s, when she attended Spelman College, the historically Black women’s school in Atlanta. Then a conversation with a close friend who worked for Planned Parenthood prompted her to reconsider her beliefs. “When I gave a reflexive answer to something she said about working there, she engaged me. She said, ‘Tell me what you think,' ” Abrams recalled. “I fell back on a religious argument, but we both had very strong religious values and she really pushed back and had me think about what I was saying and what that meant.” (Williams, 6/8)
Covid-19 Crisis
Fights Over Release Of Covid Infection Data Play Out At State, National Level
The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled in favor of state efforts to release records on company covid outbreaks. Meanwhile, consumer groups are pushing back on a Biden administration proposal that would block public access to some hospital safety data.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Wisconsin Supreme Court OKs Releasing COVID Data On Businesses
More than a year after Wisconsin's largest business lobby sued to stop the state from releasing data on companies with COVID outbreaks, a narrowly divided Wisconsin Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled in favor of releasing the records. The majority opinion, written by Justice Rebecca Dallet, asserts that Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce did not have the right to challenge the state health department's authority to release public records. The state legislature in 2003 limited when people can challenge the release of public records to a few clearly defined circumstances after a number of high profile cases in which teachers accused of having sex with students tried to stop the release of their personnel records. The slew of subsequent lawsuits bogged down the open records process in local government so much that it essentially defeated the intent of the open records law. (Chen, 6/7)
And more about pandemic hospital data —
Axios: Biden Administration Seeks To Suppress Hospital Safety Data
Consumer groups are pushing back against a Biden administration proposal that would block public access to key hospital safety data such as infection rates, falls and incidence of bed sores. Medicare is accepting comments from the public through June 17 on the rule, saying it is proposing the data suppression "due to the impact of the COVID-19 [public health emergency.]" … "The public has a right to know what happened during the pandemic. We have a right to know when lives are at risk and which hospitals did the best job of protecting their patients," said Leah Binder, CEO of the Leapfrog Group, an organization that grades hospital care.(Reed, 6/7)
In other news about the spread of covid —
The Wall Street Journal: BA.4, BA.5 Variants Rise Among U.S. Covid-19 Cases 
Omicron Covid-19 variants BA.4 and BA.5 are on the rise in the U.S., adding two more highly contagious versions of the virus to the mix that has fueled a springtime surge in cases. The closely related subvariants represented a combined 13% of U.S. cases for the week ended June 4, according to estimates the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released on Tuesday. Evidence suggests the variants are yet-more contagious versions of Omicron, public-health experts said, that may be able to evade some of the immune protections people built up from infections triggered by another version of Omicron during the winter. (Kamp, 6/7)
AP: Washington Hospitals Again Strained By COVID-19 Spread
Hospital officials in Washington are urging people to wear masks and warning that facilities are heading toward another COVID-19 case peak amid high spread in the community. Washington State Hospital Association CEO Cassie Sauer on Monday said at the end of last week, almost 600 people with COVID-19 were in hospitals across the state with about 20-25 patients a day on ventilators, The News Tribune reported. (6/7)
Fortune: Florida Is Once Again Becoming An Area Of Concern For COVID Cases
COVID-19 cases are once again topping 100,000 per day in the U.S., and that number could be significantly higher as the number of unreported cases grows, thanks to at-home testing. But not all areas are equal when it comes to risk levels. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has ranked the risk level by county through the U.S.—and, as of Tuesday, 241 counties are ranked as having high COVID-19 levels, which is determined by whichever is higher: either new hospital admissions of people with the virus, or the percentage of inpatient beds in use by COVID-19 patients. (Morris, 6/7)
The Baltimore Sun: Hopkins Doctor: This COVID Surge Not As Bad As The Last But Prepare For Another. And Monkeypox. 
The country’s latest COVID-19 surge appears to have crested well before reaching anywhere near the pandemic peak seen in January. But the pandemic isn’t done, and new variants already are emerging around the country that could mean another wave this summer or fall and everyone ought to be ready. So says Dr. Tom Inglesby, a public health expert who just returned to his post at Johns Hopkins University from a COVID-19 advisory position at the White House. (Cohn, 6/7)
Anchorage Daily News: Alaska Set To End COVID-19 Health Emergency Order On July 1
Alaska’s state health commissioner is ending a public health emergency order that’s been in place in response to the pandemic. Commissioner Adam Crum said the state health department has been working to ensure that measures needed to respond to COVID-19 are permanent or sustainable. The emergency order ends July 1, KTOO Public Media reported. “Most folks actually probably don’t even understand that we still have this in place,” Crum said. The end of the declaration will result in some program reductions including a reduction in extra food assistance benefits and federal reimbursement rates. (6/7)
Also —
CIDRAP: COVID-19 Was Leading Cause Of Duty-Related Police Deaths In 2020 
COVID-19 caused 62% of duty-related deaths of US police officers in the first year of the pandemic—a rate that rose to 77% to 82% among minority officers—according to a new study published in Policing: An International Journal. (Van Beusekom, 6/7)
CIDRAP: Those Who Believe In COVID-19 Conspiracies May Be At Risk For Depression
People who believe in conspiracies about the COVID-19 pandemic are at an increased risk of experiencing anxiety and depression, according to new research presented at the European Congress of Psychiatry and published in Frontiers in Psychiatry. The research was based on survey results of 700 volunteers who answered a newly created COVID-19 Conspiratorial Beliefs Scale developed by researchers at several Polish universities. Participants also took the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale survey, as well as the Generic Conspiracist Beliefs Scale (covering topics such as aliens from other planets) to compare results. (6/7)
CBS News: Hospital Studying Long-Term Effects Of COVID In Kids
Adriana Vaughan tested positive for COVID-19 in October 2021. Eight months later, the 12-year-old has a string of new medical issues: fatigue, headaches, stomach problems and more. Vaughan can't even walk for six minutes without losing her breath. She says swimming, which she did before getting COVID, is also hard. … Vaughan is one of more than 70 kids being treated in the long COVID clinic at Children's National Hospital in Washington, D.C. Dr. Alexandra Yonts, an infectious disease specialist who runs the clinic, said fatigue is the top complaint among patients young and old. (Duncan, 6/7)
AP: Bonus Pay Coming For Minnesota's Frontline COVID-19 Workers 
Minnesota residents who came into work during the height of the coronavirus pandemic will soon be collecting bonus pay. Workers who are eligible for so-called hero pay can begin applying online Wednesday morning and will have up to 45 days to sign up, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said. The money be divided evenly, following a period for appeals. (6/7)
Vaccines and Covid Treatments
Missouri's New Law Protects Doctors Who Prescribe Ivermectin 'Off-Label'
Gov. Mike Parson signed the law, which goes into effect in August, protecting pharmacists from questioning prescriptions of ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine — unproven as covid treatments. Meanwhile, Molnupiravir is shown to cut the need for high level medical care for covid patients.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch: New Missouri Law Protects Doctors Who Prescribe Off-Label Drugs Ivermectin And Hydroxychloroquine 
A new law in Missouri prohibits pharmacists from questioning doctors who prescribe the controversial off-label drugs ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine for patients. The measure, which goes into effect in August, was signed Tuesday by Gov. Mike Parson after it was approved by the Legislature in May. Under the law, state medical licensing boards would be prohibited from punishing or taking away the medical licenses of doctors who “lawfully” prescribe the two drugs, which became unproven alternatives to treating COVID-19 among people who opposed vaccinations. (Erickson, 6/7)
CIDRAP: Molnupiravir Cut Need For Higher Levels Of Care In Non-Severe COVID-19
Nonhospitalized, unvaccinated COVID-19 patients who received Merck's antiviral molnupiravir had less need for respiratory support and fewer acute-care visits than those given a placebo, finds the secondary analysis of the phase 2/3 randomized, controlled MOVe-OUT trial published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine. (6/7)
Becker's Hospital Review: 26 Million People Stuck In Paxlovid 'Deserts'
At-home COVID-19 treatment Paxlovid was inaccessible to more than 26 million Americans January through March, according to a recent GoodRx analysis. The pharmacy "deserts" spanned 42 percent of the nation's counties and mainly fell in rural areas. One of the possible causes for the supply drought is the shaky test-to-treat initiative, which faces fewer COVID-19 tests and a public wary of taking a new medication. (Twenter, 6/7)
In updates on the vaccine rollout —
Stat: Homeless, Incarcerated People In Minnesota Had Low Covid Vaccine Access
Homeless and incarcerated people had significantly lower Covid vaccination rates than others in Minnesota, according to a new study. Its authors say the findings highlight lingering inequities, even in a state that has prioritized vaccinating socially vulnerable groups. The study, published Monday in Health Affairs, is the first to analyze such a wide swath of people — its data set compared about 90% of Minnesota residents. It found just one third of people in jail and less than 30% of homeless people had been fully vaccinated by the end of 2021; less than 10% of people in these groups had received boosters. About 70% of the state’s residents overall had been vaccinated. (Sheridan, 6/8)
The Atlantic: Don't Wait To Get Your Kid Vaccinated
But the case for kids getting their shots as soon as possible is still strong, even two and a half years and billions of infections into SARS-CoV-2’s global sweep. Vaccination will not just protect children during the current surge but also prep them for the fall and winter, when schools resume session and another wave of cases is expected to rise. Since the pandemic began, at least 13 million American children have caught the coronavirus—a definite undercount, given the catastrophic state of testing in the United States. Of them, more than 120,000 have been hospitalized, more than 8,000 have developed a poorly understood inflammatory condition known as MIS-C, and more than 1,500 have died, nearly a third of them younger than 5. And an untold number have developed the debilitating, chronic symptoms of long COVID. “We can’t always pick out the child” who goes on to get the sickest, says Dawn Sokol, a pediatric infectious-disease specialist at Ochsner Health, in New Orleans. Many of the kids who ultimately fall ill are “running around, happy-go-lucky, no risk factors at all.” Vaccination, perhaps especially for the youngest among us, is an investment in the future. (Wu, 6/7)
The New York Times: Covid World Vaccination Tracker
More than 5.17 billion people worldwide have received a dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, equal to about 67.4 percent of the world population. This map shows the stark gap between vaccination programs in different countries. (Holder, 6/7)
Pharmaceuticals
FTC To Probe Pharmacy Benefit Managers' Impact on Access, Price
The Federal Trade Commission is looking into the business practices of the 6 largest PBMs, which negotiate rebates and fees with drug manufacturers for health plans, the agency announced Tuesday. Some independent pharmacies have complained that PBMs' practices have helped fuel price increases and limit consumers' choices.
Modern Healthcare: FTC Takes Aim At PBM Business Practices In New Inquiry
The Federal Trade Commission will intensify its scrutiny of pharmacy benefit manager business practices, the agency announced Tuesday. The probe, which the commission unanimously approved, will focus on how vertical integration in the PBM sector affects access and pricing in the prescription drug market, according to a news release. The FTC will require the six largest PBMs to provide information about their activities. The regulator plans to send compulsory orders to CVS Health's CVS Caremark, Cigna's Express Scripts, UnitedHealth Group's OptumRx, Humana, Blue Cross and Blue Shield-affiliated Prime Therapeutics, and MedImpact Healthcare Systems. CVS Caremark, Express Scripts and OptumRx collectively control about 80% of the PBM market. (Goldman, 6/7)
The Wall Street Journal: FTC To Investigate CVS Caremark And Other Pharmacy-Benefit Managers
“Although many people have never heard of pharmacy-benefit managers, these powerful middlemen have enormous influence over the U.S. prescription drug system,” FTC Chairwoman Lina Khan said. “This study will shine a light on these companies’ practices and their impact on pharmacies, payers, doctors, and patients.” The inquiry will also look into the use of specialty drug lists and related specialty drug policies. The FTC said it has received more than 24,000 public comments about pharmacy-benefit managers. (Hardison and Walker, 6/7)
In other pharmaceutical industry developments —
Reuters: Sanofi's Dupixent Gets U.S. Approval To Treat Eczema In Young Children
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the use of Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc's anti-inflammation drug Dupixent to treat eczema in young children, the two companies said on Tuesday. Dupixent is now the first approved treatment for moderate-to-severe eczema in young children, Sanofi and Regeneron said. (6/7)
CIDRAP: Moderna Launches Phase 3 Trial Of MRNA Flu Vaccine
Moderna today announced the launch of a phase 3 trial of its mRNA seasonal flu vaccine, which has a goal of immunizing about 6,000 adult participants in the Southern Hemisphere, which is entering its flu season. In a statement, the company said the vaccine candidate, one of several respiratory disease vaccines in development, encodes for the hemagglutinin glycoprotein of the four flu virus strains recommended by the World Health Organization. It added that the surface glycoprotein is an important target for generating broad protection against flu and is the primary target for current flu vaccines. (6/7)
CNN: Prescription Cannabis Products With More THC May Ease Chronic Pain, At Least A Little, Study Finds 
People who suffer from chronic pain may find small-to-moderate pain relief for the short-term when using certain prescription cannabis products with higher THC to CBD levels, but there are some worrisome side effects, according to new research. Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the chemical compound in the marijuana plant that makes you high. Cannabidiol, or CBD, is the second most prevalent active chemical in cannabis, but it does not make you high. Both have been associated with pain relief. "The findings are in line with what we know," said Yasmin Hurd, a professor of pharmacological sciences, neuroscience and psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. She was not involved with the study. (LaMotte, 6/8)
Also —
FiercePharma: Novo Nordisk Hit With Age Discrimination Suit By US Agency
Novo Nordisk is in hot water with a U.S. agency for alleged age discrimination. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has sued the company for allegedly denying a lateral transfer to a 62-year-old employee because of her age and instead hiring a less-qualified 33-year-old. Novo's employee had worked for Novo Nordisk as an obesity care specialist since 2015. When the same position opened in another territory closer to where she lived, she applied and interviewed. But instead of hiring her, the company selected someone 30 years younger from another state. (Becker, 6/7)
Prescription Drug Watch: For more news on rising drug costs, check out our weekly roundup of news coverage and perspectives of the issue.
Health Industry
Median Launch Price For A New Drug Was $2,115 In 2008. In 2021? $180K
Boston researchers looked into the soaring cost of launching a new drug in the U.S. between 2008 and 2021: The median price jumped roughly 20% per year through this period. A separate study highlights the risk of lower price transparency when hospitals merge.
Bloomberg: New Drug Prices Soar To $180,000 A Year On 20% Annual Inflation
While gasoline and food prices soar, few products rival the inflation in prices on newly launched prescription drugs, according to a new study. The median launch price of a new drug in the US soared from $2,115 in 2008 to $180,007 in 2021, a 20% annual inflation rate over the period, researchers at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston found. Even after adjusting for factors such as drugmakers’ focus on expensive disease categories like cancer and estimated discounts that manufacturers give some purchasers, the annual inflation rate in launch prices over the period was still almost 11%. (Langreth, 6/7)
Stat: Study Suggests A New Harm From Hospital Mergers: Less Price Transparency
Health care economists argue hospital mergers can raise costs and lower quality. And now, a new study adds another downside: Hospitals in concentrated markets are also less likely to be transparent about their prices. Researchers pored over the websites of more than 5,200 hospitals to check on their adherence to the federal Hospital Price Transparency Final Rule, which took effect in January 2021. Their research letter, published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, shows compliance is dismally low — less than 6% — adding to previous research and media reports that found the same. (Bannow, 6/7)
NBC News: Hospitals Are Required To Post Prices For Common Procedures. Few Do.
Few hospitals are posting the prices of their common procedures online, despite a federal law that went into effect more than a year ago. The Hospital Price Transparency Law is intended to make the hidden costs of services such as X-rays, medical tests or colonoscopies clear to patients before they enter the hospital. But a study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association added to mounting evidence that hospitals are largely ignoring the law.  (Sullivan and Dunn, 6/8)
Raleigh News & Observer: 1 In 5 North Carolinians Is In Collections For Medical Debt. Should Lawmakers Fix That? 
People’s health problems and ensuing medical debt should not be “weaponized” against them, North Carolina Treasurer Dale Folwell said Tuesday, as state lawmakers proposed a bill he helped write that takes aim at hospitals and their billing practices. Folwell, a Republican, noted the bill’s bipartisan list of sponsors. At one point, he cited Democratic U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts when arguing for the bill. Both Folwell and the bill’s lead sponsor, Republican Rep. Ed Goodwin of Edenton, spoke about experiences they have had with hefty medical bills for thousands of dollars. (Doran, 6/8)
KHN: ‘An Arm And A Leg’: Good News For Your Credit Report 
Credit reporting bureaus announced in March that they would start taking most paid medical debt off people’s credit reports. At first, we weren’t sure that would be such a huge deal. After all, the unpaid medical debt would still exist, people would still get harassed by debt collectors, or even sued over it. But it turns out, there are a bunch of reasons these changes could be life-changing, and we want to give credit (the good kind) where it’s due.  (Weissmann, 6/8)
Medical Company Cyberattack May Have Snared Data On 2 Million People
Shields Health Care Group says the identity and medical information, including diagnoses, of patients may have been grabbed by hackers in May. Separately, giant database company Oracle has completed its acquisition of Cerner, an electronics health records company.
The Boston Globe: Cyberattack On A Mass.-Based Medical Imaging Company May Have Affected Millions
A cyberattack on Shields Health Care Group Inc. may have compromised the identity and medical information of approximately 2 million people, the imaging and outpatient surgical center company disclosed. Shields said the compromised data could include full names, social security numbers, dates of birth, home addresses, provider information, diagnoses, billing information, insurance numbers and information, medical record numbers, patient IDs, and other medical or treatment information. Shields said it is still conducting a review of the impacted data, and didn’t have evidence that any of the information from the incident was used to commit identity theft or fraud. Shields said it notified federal law enforcement, would report the incident to state and federal regulators, and planned to directly notify impacted individuals where possible after it completes a review. The company notified federal officials of the breach on May 27. (Bartlett, 6/7)
Modern Healthcare: Oracle Completes $28.4B Cerner Acquisition
Oracle said it completed its $28.4 billion acquisition of electronic health records company Cerner. Technology giant Oracle announced plans to buy Cerner late last year through an all-cash tender offer of $95 per share. On Tuesday, Oracle said the majority of outstanding shares of Cerner were validly tendered and the deal will close Wednesday. Austin, Texas-based Oracle has described Cerner as the company's "anchor asset" as it expands into healthcare. (Kim Cohen, 6/7)
Modern Healthcare: Providence's Tegria Spins Out Software Company Advata
A healthcare software company backed by Providence health system will make its debut Wednesday. The venture, dubbed Advata, is an amalgam of several entities that have been part of Tegria, a for-profit subsidiary of Renton, Washington-based Providence. When the not-for-profit health system established Tegria in 2020, it included nine healthcare technology and services companies. A subset of those will comprise Advata, which is being launched as a separate entity. (Kim Cohen, 6/7)
Health News Florida: A Research-Focused Academic Health Center At FSU Aims To Improve Health Care 
Florida State University president Richard McCullough hopes a planned academic health center will help raise the level of medical care in the Tallahassee area. The new center will be part of a partnership between the university and Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare. It will be funded by a $125 million appropriation from the Florida Legislature. The proposed building will provide more space for medical training and research. McCullough says it will pave the way for what he calls “bench to bedside" research that creates a streamlined path from laboratory work to patient care. (McCarthy, 6/7)
In news about health care workers —
Modern Healthcare: California Doctors Union Avoids Strike With Tentative Contract
A union representing 1,300 resident physicians and fellows at three Los Angeles County hospitals reached a tentative contract with the county, averting a potential strike, the labor organization said Tuesday. The Committee of Interns and Residents, a local chapter of Service Employees International Union, entered additional negotiations with the county following its vote late last month to authorize a strike. No details were released on the tentative pact's specifics or when members would vote on it but in a news release, the union said the proposal contained "significant material gains for resident physicians." (Devereaux, 6/7)
Axios: Doctors Fight Bill That Lets More Health Workers Treat Federal Employees
Physicians are trying to sink a bill due to be taken up on the House floor on Tuesday that would allow federal employees to get work-related injuries diagnosed and treated by nurse practitioners and physician assistants. So-called scope of practice fights have intensified during the pandemic as emergency powers let medical providers who were not doctors provide more services. The legislation would expand nurse practitioners' and physician assistants' roles in providing services to injured federal workers under the federal workers' compensation program. (Reed, 6/7)
Science And Innovations
Study Shows Mortality Rate For Republicans Higher Than Democrats
Media outlets cover a study into the gap in mortality rates between counties that lean toward Democratic or Republican politics, showing the gap widening with higher rates among Republicans over the last two decades and accelerating during the pandemic. Cancer treatments, Type 2 diabetes, and how the liver ages are also in the news.
USA Today: Republican, Democratic Counties: Study Shows Widening Death Rate Gap
“We wanted to see whether the political affiliation had an association with death rates in the U.S.,” said corresponding author Dr. Haider Warraich, associate physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. “Over these two decades, the mortality gap between Republican and Democratic counties has really widened quite considerably.” Mortality rates in Democratic counties dropped from 850 deaths per 100,000 people to 664, but in Republican counties, mortality rates declined from 867 to 771. The mortality gap widened across leading causes of death in the U.S. including heart disease, cancer, drug overdoses and suicide. Democratic counties also saw greater reductions in deaths from chronic lower respiratory tract diseases, diabetes, influenza and pneumonia, and kidney disease. (Rodriguez, 6/7)
Bloomberg: Pandemic Rift Seen Widening Mortality Gap Between US Parties
Attitudes on health-related issues such as abortion and HIV prevention have long tracked along political lines. The study doesn’t include mortality data from the pandemic, which took hold in the US in March 2020. However, the authors say that divisive posturing around virus countermeasures such as vaccines and mask-wearing could mean that the rift will continue to widen. The pandemic was the first time that politics has become such a salient, identifiable public health issue, Haider Warraich, a physician at Brigham and Women’s and the study’s lead author, said in an interview. “The main implication of our study is that what party environment you live in, or what party ideology you are affiliated with, will have a significant outcome on your health,” he said. (Muller, 6/7)
In other science and research news —
AP: Some Cancer Patients Can Skip Treatments, 2 Studies Show
After surgery, some cancer patients can safely skip radiation or chemotherapy, according to two studies exploring shorter, gentler cancer care. Researchers are looking for ways to precisely predict which cancer patients can avoid unneeded treatment to cut down on harmful side effects and unnecessary costs. One new study used a blood test to determine which colon cancer patients could skip chemotherapy after surgery. Another suggests some low-risk breast cancer patients can omit radiation after lumpectomy. (Johnson, 6/7)
The Washington Post: Type 2 Diabetes May Accelerate Brain Function Decline As People Age
In older people with Type 2 diabetes, the brain appears to age at an accelerated rate — about 26 percent faster than normal, according to research published in the journal eLife. Relying on brain scans, brain functioning tests and other data from 20,314 people, ages 50 to 80, the researchers compared neurological changes in those who did and did not have Type 2 diabetes. In both groups, they found declines in executive functions such as working memory, learning and flexible thinking, as well as declines in brain processing speed. (Searing, 6/7)
The Washington Post: The Liver Ages More Slowly Than The Body 
When it comes to the human body, age is just a number. Thanks to the regenerative powers of human cells, our bodies constantly create new cells — to the tune of about 330 billion a day. But until now, researchers haven’t known much about how long the cells of one of the most important organs, the liver, live. Research in the journal Cell Systems reveals that humans’ livers are forever young, clocking in at less than three years old despite their hosts’ biological age. (Blakemore, 6/6)
Mental Health
VA Launches Mission To Lower Veteran Suicides
Wyoming Public Radio reports on a new initiative from the Department of Veterans Affairs: Mission Daybreak is a 10-year $20 million program aimed at driving veteran suicide rates lower. Meanwhile, in Massachusetts patients waiting for psychiatric treatment are said to be crowding emergency rooms.
Wyoming Public Radio: A New VA Initiative Aims To Reduce Veteran Suicide And Seeks To Build Ties In Wyoming 
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently announced the launch of Mission Daybreak, an initiative aimed at reducing veteran suicide. The 10-year, $20 million program is seeking to accomplish this objective through a comprehensive, public health approach that integrates researchers, clinicians, health innovators, veterans, and service members. “To end Veteran suicide, we need to use every tool available,” said VA Secretary Denis McDonough. “In the most recent National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report more than 45,000 American adults died by suicide — including 6,261 Veterans. That’s why Mission Daybreak is fostering solutions across a broad spectrum of focus areas to combat this preventable problem.” (Cook, 6/7)
In other news about mental health —
The Boston Globe: ‘The Numbers Just Continue To Rise’: Patients Awaiting Psychiatric Treatment Crowd Emergency Rooms
On Monday, nearly all of South Shore Hospital’s pediatric emergency beds were occupied by children who were suicidal. The 10 patients, some of whom had been there 12 days or more, were waiting for a place that could take them and care for their mental health needs. Another 18 adults were in the emergency department with behavioral health issues, also waiting for beds at South Shore or another facility. One person had been there 17 days. Hospital officials throughout the state say they are seeing unprecedented volumes of behavioral health patients who are sicker than ever before, a leading contributor to emergency room crowding, which officials say has worsened in recent weeks. (Bartlett, 6/7)
KHN: Patients Seek Mental Health Care From Their Doctor But Find Health Plans Standing In The Way
When a longtime patient visited Dr. William Sawyer’s office after recovering from covid, the conversation quickly turned from the coronavirus to anxiety and ADHD. Sawyer — who has run a family medicine practice in the Cincinnati area for more than three decades — said he spent 30 minutes asking questions about the patient’s exercise and sleep habits, counseling him on breathing exercises, and writing a prescription for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder medication. (Pattani, 6/8)
NBC News: Family Sues Meta, Blames Instagram For Daughter’s Eating Disorder And Self-Harm
A preteen girl’s “addictive” use of Instagram resulted in an eating disorder, self-harm and thoughts of suicide over several years, according to a lawsuit against the platform’s parent company, Meta. The lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California late Monday, heavily cites the Facebook Papers, a trove of internal Meta research documents leaked last fall that revealed that the tech giant knew Instagram was worsening body-image and other mental-health issues among teenage girls in particular. (Cook, 6/7)
In other public health news —
CBS News: Jif Peanut Butter Recalls Now Include Ice Cream, Candy And Chicken Salad
Add peanut butter cup ice cream to a growing list of recalled food made with Jif peanut butter that is linked to an outbreak of salmonella that has sickened 16 people in the U.S. Americans are being cautioned against eating a range of baked goods, sandwiches, candy, trail mix and ready-to-eat salad products made with the recalled Jif peanut butter, as snacks are pulled from stores, vending machines and restaurants nationwide amid a multi-state outbreak of salmonella. (Gibson, 6/7)
Stateline: One Region Led A 13-State Pandemic Baby Boomlet
New England has seen an unusual uptick in births during the coronavirus pandemic as more highly educated residents, especially those in their 30s, seized working from home as an opportunity to start a family. All six New England states were among the 13 states where births increased between 2019 and 2021. New Hampshire and Tennessee were the only states with more births last year than in 2014, the last time births rose nationally. The New England baby boomlet is notable in a region with the lowest birth rates in the nation—and it contrasts with a long-term national decline in births. (Henderson, 6/7)
Pioneer Press: 11-Month-Old Max Do Leaves The NICU For The First Time
It was a day Dan Do thought he might never get the chance to see. On Monday, Do’s son Max donned a spiffy white and navy blue outfit, with a bow tie and graduation cap. Max was ready to walk out of the hospital doors and into a new chapter of his life. Dozens of doctors and nurses lined up in the hallway of Advocate Children’s Hospital in Park Ridge blowing bubbles and performing a song for Max, who was celebrating several firsts. He began taking his first steps, and days before his first birthday would be seeing the outside world for the first time, after spending his entire 11-month life in the neonatal intensive care unit due to a rare condition that prevents him from absorbing the proper amount of nutrients from food. (Turner, 6/7)
AP: Rays' Hess Returns From Cancer Treatment, Pitches In Minors
Tampa Bay minor league pitcher David Hess threw one inning for the rookie-level FCL Rays on Tuesday, his first game since undergoing treatment for a cancerous tumor in his chest. Hess announced last October after experiencing chest tightness and shortness of breath that a cancerous germ cell tumor was found sitting in the center of his chest, pressing against his heart and lungs. (6/7)
Environmental Health And Storms
'Dangerous' Heat Wave Roasting Southwest Raises Health Concerns
Heat waves are deadly, killing about 150 people a year. Health experts remind residents to hydrate, utilize cooling centers, and be careful about exposure to the heat. Other environmental health news stories report on asthma, polluted soil and water, and more.
The Washington Post: 'Extreme' Heat To Bake Texas, Southwest With Highs Topping 110 Degrees 
Temperatures are set to soar in Texas and the Desert Southwest this week, with readings topping 110 degrees and an escalating danger of heat-related illnesses. The National Weather Service is calling the heat “dangerous,” “extreme” and “excessive,” warning vulnerable populations to take steps to ensure access to cooling resources. (Cappucci, 6/7)
CNN: Heat Like This Only Happens A Few Times A Year, One National Weather Office Says 
"It's going to be hotter than what we've seen any time this year so far," [National Weather Service meteorologist Chris] Kuhlman told CNN Weather. "We're tacking on another probably 10 degrees, so it's definitely going to be hot. "Heat waves are the deadliest type of weather disaster in the US. They account for nearly 150 fatalities per year, more than hurricanes and tornadoes combined. "This heat will impact everyone, not just those sensitive to heat risk," the National Weather Service in Sacramento emphasized in a tweet. (Jones, 6/6)
KEYE: Austin, Travis Co. Designate Dozens Of Cooling Centers During Heat Wave 
Austin and Travis County are warning residents to be vigilant about the heat. The extreme temperatures facing Central Texas this week are not only uncomfortable but life-threatening. To help people keep cool, several cooling centers are open for those seeking relief. “Even for Central Texans we're not used to having multiple days in the triple digits– especially all in a row,” says Christa Stedman with Austin Travis County EMS. Medics are urging people to be mindful of when they’ll be outside and remember to eat and pre-hydrate, use sunscreen, wear light clothing, and listen to their bodies. (Torre, 6/7)
KENS5.com: How To Protect Yourself, Your Pets, And Your Family As Extreme Heat Arrives In Texas
If you can't keep your house cool, go somewhere cooler like the many cooling centers across Bexar County. Pace yourself and cut down on outdoor exercise. Wear sunscreen and re-apply often with at least SPF 15. Stay hydrated. If you notice you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated. And check on those most vulnerable like seniors, young children, those who are overweight, and people who are sick. (Baker, 6/6)  
In related news —
Axios: Heat Waves Could Soon Have Names
There's a growing effort to name and categorize heat waves the way we do hurricanes — to call attention to their significance, alert people to dangerous temperatures and prod public officials into action. Heat waves are the deadliest type of weather emergency in the U.S. They're bigger killers than floods, tornadoes or hurricanes — and they're growing in frequency and intensity due to global warming. (Kingson, 6/8)
In other environmental health news —
AP: AG Settles With Housing Provider Over Child With Asthma
The owner of an affordable housing property in Boston and the property manager have agreed to pay $35,000 to settle allegations that they failed to adequately address secondhand smoke and a rodent infestation that negatively affected the health of a young tenant with asthma, the attorney general said Tuesday. According to the settlement, JPNDC Pitts MM LLC and Peabody Properties Inc. violated the state’s antidiscrimination and consumer protection laws by failing to make a reasonable accommodation for the child, despite repeated requests from the child’s parent and medical professionals, the office said in a statement. (6/7)
Dallas Morning News: Garland ISD Will Clean Up Soil With High Levels Of Arsenic At Middle School Campus
Garland ISD has plans to remove soil near Sam Houston Middle School after a third-party contractor report found some areas with high levels of arsenic. On Friday, Garland ISD’s executive director of facilities and maintenance, Paul Gonzales, sent out a letter to families attending the school announcing that there would be a cleanup process this summer. The report, which The Dallas Morning News obtained via an open records request, comes almost a year after the EPA alerted Garland ISD about its findings of lead contaminated soil at Park Crest Elementary, which is directly across the street from Sam Houston. The EPA began a cleanup process to remove the lead contaminated soil on district property and in the surrounding neighborhood last August. (D'Annunzio, 6/7)
KHN: Some People In This Montana Mining Town Worry About The Dust Next Door 
Steve McGrath stood in an empty lot a block from his home watching for dust. In this southwestern Montana city nicknamed “The Richest Hill on Earth,” more than a century of mining left polluted soil and water that has taken decades to clean. But at that moment, looking across the road toward Butte’s last operating open-pit mine, McGrath was worried about the air. “Here comes another truck,” McGrath said, pointing to a hillside across the street as a massive dump truck unloaded ore for the mine’s crusher. A brown cloud billowed into the air. “And there’s the dust.” (Houghton, 6/8)
The Washington Post: Coyote Killed By Cop After Biting People In Fairfax Tests Positive For Rabies
A coyote that bit three people before it was fatally shot by a police officer in Fairfax County has tested positive for rabies, and residents who were bitten are urged to get medical treatment. Officials with the county’s health department said a lab test performed Monday confirmed that the coyote had rabies. (Hedgpeth, 6/7)
State Watch
Federal Bureau Of Prisons Settles Insulin Access Lawsuit
Reports say the Bureau will pay $300,000 to settle with a diabetic prisoner who alleges he wasn't given access to enough insulin at a supermax facility. The U.S. Indian Health Service, recreational pot in Yellowstone County, DNA tracing in Florida rape cases, and more are also in state health news.
Colorado Sun: Bureau Of Prisons To Pay $300,000 To Settle Lawsuit After Prisoner Was Allegedly Deprived Of Insulin At Supermax Facility
The federal Bureau of Prisons will pay $300,000 to a diabetic prisoner who alleged he did not receive his required insulin while he was incarcerated at a federal supermax prison in Colorado. The prison’s medical staff failed to provide Seifullah Chapman, who has a severe form of Type 1 diabetes, the adequate amount of insulin while incarcerated at ADX Florence, putting him at risk for severe medical complications including coma and death, according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Colorado. Both sides agreed June 1 to dismiss the lawsuit after agreeing on the financial award, court records show. (Prentzel, 6/7)
The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Indian Health Service Leaders Failed To Intervene In Abuse Allegation At Teen Center, Report Found
The U.S. Indian Health Service botched its response to allegations that a government worker sexually abused a teenage patient at the agency’s addiction-treatment center in North Carolina, according to a newly disclosed report. The IHS, a federal agency that provides healthcare services to roughly 2.6 million Native Americans, hired an outside consultant to investigate the agency’s response to the allegations after The Wall Street Journal in 2019 detailed missteps at the treatment facility, called Unity Healing Center, in Cherokee, N.C. (Weaver, 6/7)
Billings Gazette: Voters Want To Keep Recreational Pot, According To Early Returns
Yellowstone County voters want to keep their access to local recreational marijuana dispensaries. In the first batch of results from Tuesday's election, 21,903 voters opted to keep recreational marijuana sales legal in Yellowstone County compared to 15,869 who voted to ban sales. Voters were asked whether to overturn legalized recreational marijuana sales in Yellowstone County following a move in December by Yellowstone County commissioners to place the question on the June ballot. It's the third time since November 2020 that Billings voters have cast a ballot asking about recreational marijuana. Montana voters in 2020 overwhelmingly approved legalizing recreational marijuana; in Yellowstone County the vote was more narrow, 50.7% to 49.3% in favor, a difference of roughly 1,100 votes. (Rogers, 6/7)
AP: Police: DNA Technology Connects Man To Florida Serial Rapes 
Advanced DNA technology helped detectives link the cases of six women to a man accused of being the “pillowcase rapist” for a string of rapes back in the 1980s.Robert Koehler is currently jailed in neighboring Miami-Dade County, where he faces charges for assaulting a woman in the early '80s as well, Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony said in a Tuesday morning news conference. Authorities believe Koehler, 62, may have committed 40 to 45 rapes, terrifying victims by breaking into their homes at night, the sheriff said. (Frisaro, 6/7)
Oklahoman: Oklahoma City-County Health Department To Offer Free Mammograms On June 10
The Oklahoma City-County Health Department will be offering free mammograms on Friday, June 10. The event is in partnership with OU Health, Stephenson Cancer Center and The Market at Eastpoint, 1708 NE 23. The mobile mammography unit will be at The Market to screen women over the age of 40. All services are free, and if any abnormalities are found, diagnostic testing and follow-up will also be offered at no cost. (6/7)
In obituaries —
AP: Former Longtime Illinois US Rep. John E. Porter Dies At 87 
John E. Porter, who represented Chicago’s northern suburbs for two decades in Congress and helped increase funding for biomedical research has died, his family announced. He was 87. … Porter, a Republican, represented Illinois’ 10th District in Congress from 1980 to 2001. A staunch fiscal conservative, Porter also held moderate social views, backing abortion rights and gun control — positions that are almost unheard of in today’s Republican Party. (6/7)
Global Watch
No Radiological Hazards As Chernobyl Detectors Restart
Reuters reports that for the first time in over 3 months the failed nuclear reactor's detectors are online, and reporting normal levels. Elsewhere in Ukraine, worries rise over a possible cholera outbreak in Mariupol. Also: dengue in Singapore, China's worries over covid in North Korea, and more global health news.
Reuters: Chernobyl Radiation Detectors Back Online, Levels Normal — IAEA
Radiation detectors in the Exclusion Zone around Ukraine's defunct Chernobyl nuclear power plant are back online for the first time since Russia seized the area on Feb. 24, and radiation levels are normal, the U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Tuesday. "Most of the 39 detectors sending data from the Exclusion Zone … are now visible on the IRMIS (International Radiation Monitoring Information System) map," the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a statement. "The measurements received so far indicated radiation levels in line with those measured before the conflict." (6/7)
NBC News: Ukraine Sounds Alarm About Possible Cholera Outbreak In Russian-Occupied Mariupol
Mariupol, the Ukrainian city relentlessly bombed and besieged by Russian forces for months, could now be facing a deadly cholera outbreak, local officials have warned. An adviser to the occupied port city’s mayor said Tuesday that its drinking water had been contaminated by decomposing garbage and corpses, increasing the risk of a cholera outbreak. (Talmazan, 6/7)
CNN: Singapore's Dengue 'Emergency' Is A Climate Change Omen For The World 
Singapore says it is facing a dengue "emergency" as it grapples with an outbreak of the seasonal disease that has come unusually early this year. The Southeast Asian city-state has already exceeded 11,000 cases — far beyond the 5,258 it reported throughout 2021 — and that was before June 1, when its peak dengue season traditionally begins. Experts are warning that it's a grim figure not only for Singapore — whose tropical climate is a natural breeding ground for the Aedes mosquitoes that carry the virus — but also for the rest of the world. That's because changes in the global climate mean such outbreaks are likely to become more common and widespread in the coming years. (Chen, 6/6)
Bloomberg: China Fears Wind Is Blowing Covid Virus In From North Korea
Officials in a Chinese city on the border with North Korea say they can’t figure out where persistent new Covid-19 infections are coming from — and suspect the wind blowing in from their secretive neighbor. Despite being locked down since the end of April, daily cases have been trending up in Dandong, a city of 2.19 million. Most of the infected people found in the community during the past week hadn’t been outside of their housing compounds for at least four days prior to their diagnosis, according to the city’s Center for Disease Control. (6/7)
Reuters: COVID Vaccine Rights Waiver Within Reach, WTO Chief Says Ahead Of Meeting
An international agreement on waiving intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines is within reach ahead of a global trade meeting next week, the head of the World Trade Organization said on Wednesday. In a telephone interview, Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala also said an agreement could be reached on fishing subsidies in time for the meeting, when 120 trade ministers from around the world gather at the body's Geneva headquarters. (Farge, 6/8)
The Washington Post: ‘Needle Spiking’ Reports Grow In France, Belgium And Britain
She had eagerly looked forward to going home for the holidays and reuniting with friends over dinner and drinks. Instead, Eva Keeling, 19, says, she wound up injected by a stranger with a needle, leaving her unable to speak or function while at a bar in her hometown of Stafford, in northern England. “We went outside [the bar] for some fresh air … then I ended up losing all control of my body, the ability to walk, hold my head up, I couldn’t talk — I was projectile vomiting everywhere,” Keeling told The Washington Post. (Suliman and Francis, 6/7)
Prescription Drug Watch
Tirzepatide Promising For Weight Loss; Eli Lilly Wins In Product Liability Case
Read about the biggest pharmaceutical developments and pricing stories from the past week in KHN's Prescription Drug Watch roundup.
New England Journal of Medicine: Tirzepatide Once Weekly For The Treatment Of Obesity 
Obesity is a chronic disease that results in substantial global morbidity and mortality. The efficacy and safety of tirzepatide, a novel glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide and glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist, in people with obesity are not known. (Jastreboff, M.D., Ph.D., et al, 6/4)
ScienceDaily: How Fast-Growing Bacteria Can Resist Antibiotics 
New insights into how some bacteria survive antibiotics could lead to the development of novel treatment strategies. (eLife, 6/7)
FiercePharma: It's Crunch Time For Bluebird Bio As 2 Of Its 3 Gene Therapies Face High-Stakes FDA Meeting
A two-day FDA advisory committee meeting on Thursday and Friday will have much to say about the fate of struggling bluebird bio. Two of the company's three promising gene therapies are up for consideration from the agency's independent experts. While bluebird’s beti-cel for people with B-thalassemia who require regular red blood cell transfusions appears headed for a rubber stamp on Friday, its eli-cel treatment for cerebral adrenoleukodystrophy (CALD) could have an uphill struggle, according to briefing documents from agency staffers. (Dunleavy, 6/7)
FiercePharma: Eli Lilly Wins Key Dispute Over Patient Warnings In Era Of DTC Advertising
Pharma has notched a legal win in a Washington state product liability case. The state’s highest court has ruled that drug companies are obligated to warn doctors, but not patients, about potential risks of their medicines, even if the drugmaker advertises directly to consumers. The decision (PDF) stems from a lawsuit filed against drugmaker Eli Lilly by a patient in 2021 who said he suffered a stroke within hours of taking Lilly’s Cialis, which treats erectile dysfunction and a condition that causes an enlarged prostate. (Missakian, 6/8)
FiercePharma: Gilead Names New Manufacturing Head In Wake Of Recent Hiccups
Gilead Sciences, which has been in the headlines recently for layoffs and recalls due to glass shards, has named a new head to its manufacturing operations. Stacey Ma, who was previously the head of technical operations at Sana Biotechnology based in California, will be Gilead’s new executive vice president for pharmaceutical development and manufacturing, the company said. Additionally, Ma becomes part of the senior leadership team, reporting directly to Daniel O’Day, chair and chief executive. (Keenan, 6/2)
Perspectives: Tirzepatide Could Be A Boon For Weight Loss
Read recent commentaries about drug-cost issues.
New England Journal of Medicine: Shifting Tides Offer New Hope For Obesity
In the past, few medications were approved to treat obesity, and those that were approved were plagued by weak efficacy and troubling side effects. Some agents, such as phentermine with fenfluramine, sibutramine, and lorcaserin, were actually withdrawn, owing to risks of serious cardiac valvulopathy, stroke, and cancer, respectively. (Clifford J. Rosen, M.D., and Julie R. Ingelfinger, M.D., 6/4)
Nature: Why Drug Delivery Is The Key To New Medicines 
Designing a new drug is not enough; it has to be delivered to its target, which can be achieved via a cornucopia of vehicles, from nanoparticles and microneedles to red blood cells and microalgae. (Mike May, 6/6)
Stat: It's Time To Move Past Aduhelm And Focus On A Broader Alzheimer's Drug Pipeline
Alzheimer's is not a one-cause-explains-all disease. That's why researchers must take a broader and more diverse approach finding new therapies. (Howard M. Fillit, 6/7)
Also —
Commercial Appeal: Prescription Drugs: Memphis Residents Need Solution For Rising Prices
MedPAC’s proposal suggest that an adjustment to the cost-sharing could help lower prices. MedPAC also suggest that if part D pays for 80% and Medicare pays for 20% prices, it will lower the cost of prescription drugs. Even if those percentages are high, any percent that lowers the cost will be a help to those in need. Parties should set the blame aside and focus on developing a plan to help citizens with paying for prescription drugs. Policies should cater to the needs of those enrolling in Medicare Part D. Shifting the percentages of payment will help significantly. (D'aja Grandberry, 6/6)
NJ.com: New Jersey Supports Prescription Drug Reform, Will Congress? 
As a retiree on Medicare, I feel like a human pinball, bouncing back and forth from pharmacy to pharmacy trying to find the cheapest drugs I need to keep me alive. It shouldn’t be this way. Imagine needing to take essential medication that dramatically improve your quality of life, only to find out you can no longer afford it. What would you do? (Gretchen Landenburger, 6/7)
The Hill: Congress Should Shield Patients From Deceptive Policies That Increase Their Medication Costs 
Even before the pandemic upended life as we know it, patients were struggling to afford many of their medications. Now, as Americans feel the direct effects of inflation at the gas pump, grocery store and at home, copay assistance for expensive medications has become even more critical. Despite the challenging economic circumstances facing the average American, health plans and industry middlemen known as pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) increasingly turn their backs on patients by essentially refusing the use of copay assistance. Blocking copay assistance from counting toward a patient’s deductible leaves many of the country’s most vulnerable patients with an impossible choice to either shell out more money for their medicine or forgo treatment altogether.  (6/3)
Editorials And Opinions
Viewpoints: Congress Must Act Quickly On Drug-Pricing Reform; Political Affiliation Affects Health Outcomes
Editorial writers weigh in on these public health issues.
The New York Times: Congress Must Rein In Skyrocketing Drug Prices 
Millions of Americans are forced to ration or go without prescription drugs because of their high cost. Yet Congress has so far failed to pass legislation to lower drug prices. They may have another shot. Drug pricing reforms passed by the House of Representatives last November stalled after Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia withdrew his support for President Biden’s signature Build Back Better legislation. But last week Senator Manchin said that drug pricing reform is “the one thing that must be done” this year. He is reportedly in talks with the Senate majority leader, Charles Schumer, on a revised spending bill that would address high prescription drug prices, although the success of the negotiations is far from assured. (Benjamin N. Rome, Alexander C. Egilman and Aaron S. Kesselheim, 6/8)
Stat: U.S. Death Rates Show How Politics Are Affecting Public Health 
In an ideal world, public health would be independent of politics. Yet recent events in the U.S., such as the Supreme Court’s impending repeal of Roe v. Wade, the spike in gun violence across the country, and the stark partisan divide on the response to the Covid-19 pandemic, are putting public health on a collision course with politics. Although this may seem like a new phenomenon, American politics has been creating a deep fissure in the health of Americans over the past two decades. (Haider J. Warraich, 6/7)
Kansas City Star: ‘Janes’ Documentary Recounts Scary Time Of Illegal Abortions 
It opens with a woman’s voice and a black screen. “I had no other options,” she says. “I wanted it over with.” Then you see her. White, gray-haired, maybe somewhere in her 70s. And she continues her story. “I didn’t care how it was done. I was that desperate.” Someone gave her a phone number. “And it was the mob.” The gangsters talked in code. Did she want a Chevrolet ($500), a Cadillac ($750) or a Rolls Royce ($1,000)? “That’s what the mob charged for an abortion.” (Leonard Pitts Jr., 6/7)
Stat: How The U.S. Can Mitigate And Prevent Medical Device Shortages 
Just weeks after the U.S. declared Covid-19 to be a public health emergency in early 2020, shortages of personal protective equipment for health care providers and medical devices dominated headlines, and many Americans were soon directly affected by the lack of these essential products. Covid-19 exposed weaknesses in the U.S. supply chain and the country’s overdependence on medical supplies, devices, and components imported from overseas. Shortages persist today and span a variety of categories, including supplies essential for patient care such as blood collection tubes, contrast media, and more. While the pandemic fueled much-needed progress on supply chain resilience, policymakers, manufacturers, and other key stakeholders can help prevent or resolve future shortages of medical devices. (Michael J. Alkire and Soumi Saha, 6/8)
Stat: User Fee Bill Needs To Address Pharma's Role In The Climate Crisis 
As Congress works to reauthorize for the seventh time pharmaceutical user fee legislation, it is overlooking what should be part of virtually every law that affects industry these days: the climate crisis. The Prescription Drug User Fee Act, initially established in 1992, primarily authorizes the Food and Drug Administration to collect user fees from industry that fund review and approval of patented and generic drugs, biosimilars, and medical devices, as well as related FDA performance goals. This update would reauthorize the act for fiscal year 2023 through 2027. (David Introcaso, 6/8)
The CT Mirror: Prescription Price Controls Induce Shortages And Hamper Innovation
Lately, stakeholders in the health economy have been playing the “blame game” over rising healthcare expenses. Price controls have taken center stage in state and federal proposals as a tactic to arbitrarily lower prescription drug costs. While this may seem like a reasonable solution to an issue we all face, price controls wherever and whenever they have been tried always have undesirable short- and long-term economic consequences. Misguided and ill-informed policies like these will harm patients here in Connecticut and across the nation. (Paul Pescatello, 6/8)
USA Today: Human Trafficking: China Uses Forced Organ Donations Against Uyghurs
The leading medical transplant journal in the world recently made the case that Chinese prisoners are being forced to give up organs at the expense of their lives. The journal article carried this shocking headline – "Execution by organ procurement: Breaching the dead donor rule in China. "The authors, Matthew P. Robertson and Jacob Lavee, documented 71 cases, spread across China, where organ procurement likely occurred before brain death. (James S. Robbins, 6/7)
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