Wednesday, November 9, 2022 – Kaiser Health News

Kaiser Health News Original Stories
People With Long Covid Face Barriers to Government Disability Benefits
Some people with long covid have fallen through the cracks of the government’s disability system, which was time-consuming and difficult to navigate even before the pandemic. (Betsy Ladyzhets, )
Ad Goes Too Far With Claim That Joe Biden Promotes Surgery for Trans Teens
Even some medical experts who are skeptical of gender-affirming care say the White House is not promoting breast removal and genital surgery for teens. But that’s not what an ad, funded by a group led by a former adviser to President Donald Trump, would have you believe. (Blake Farmer, Nashville Public Radio, )
Political Cartoon: 'The Anti-Bodies?'
Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'The Anti-Bodies?'" by John Deering.
Abortion Rights Supported By Midterm Voters In 5 States
On Election Day, residents in California, Michigan, and Vermont approved ballot measures protecting abortion rights. And voters in Montana and Kentucky turned away initiatives that would have restricted access.
The Hill: Voters Support Abortion Rights In All Five States With Ballot Measures
Voters in California, Vermont and Michigan on Tuesday approved ballot measures enshrining abortion rights into their state constitutions, while those in traditional red states Montana and Kentucky rejected measures that would have restricted access to reproductive care. The votes signal strength to effort to support abortion rights after the Supreme Court in June ruled to overturn the landmark 1973 case Roe v. Wade and the constitutional right to the procedure. (Dress, 11/9)
The Guardian: US States Vote To Protect Reproductive Rights In Rebuke To Anti-Abortion Push 
Voters in multiple states passed measures to enshrine the right to abortion during Tuesday’s midterm elections, delivering a rebuke to the crackdown on reproductive freedoms taking place across the US. (Noor and Cannon, 11/9)
The Wall Street Journal: Abortion-Rights Supporters Prevail In Midterm Ballot Measures 
The midterm elections provided the first national temperature-taking on voter attitudes toward abortion since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in late June, ending federal constitutional protections for the procedure. The decision returned abortion policy to the states, creating a host of new battlegrounds. (Kusisto and Calfas, 11/9)
More on the results from Vermont, California, and Michigan —
VTDigger: Vermont Becomes The 1st State To Enshrine Abortion Rights In Its Constitution
Vermont’s founding document will now be appended with a 22nd article, which will read in full: “That an individual’s right to personal reproductive autonomy is central to the liberty and dignity to determine one’s own life course and shall not be denied or infringed unless justified by a compelling State interest achieved by the least restrictive means.” (Duffort, 11/8)
Los Angeles Times: Californians Vote To Protect Abortion Rights With Prop. 1
“Today we sent a loud clear message to those who think they can control our bodies,” said Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), who authored the bill that placed Proposition 1 on the ballot. “In California, we will not go backwards.” (Gutierrez, 11/8)
Detroit Free Press: Proposal 3: Michigan Voters Approve Abortion Rights Measure
"Today, the people of Michigan voted to restore the reproductive rights they’ve had for 50 years,” said Darci McConnell, communication director for Reproductive Freedom for All, the group behind Proposal 3. "Proposal 3's passage marks an historic victory for abortion access in our state and in our country — and Michigan has paved the way for future efforts to restore the rights and protections of Roe v. Wade nationwide." (Hendrickson, 11/9)
Anti-abortion measures in Kentucky and Montana appear headed for a loss —
BBC News: Abortion Election Results: Kentucky Poised For Pro-Choice Win 
Abortion advocates in Kentucky are poised for an underdog victory, as the final votes are counted in a state referendum on an anti-abortion measure. … However, the expected result won't automatically reverse the state's current legislation, which almost entirely prohibits abortion. (11/9)
The New York Times: Live Results: Montana Born-Alive Infants Regulation 
The measure would enact a law making any infant “born alive” at any gestational age a legal person, a protection that already exists under a federal law passed 20 years ago. It would criminalize health care providers who do not make every effort to save the life of an infant “born during an attempted abortion” or after labor or C-section. Doctors say they are concerned that the law will limit palliative care for infants who are born but will not survive. (11/9)
South Dakota Votes To Expand Medicaid Cover
Forbes says a "wide margin" of South Dakotans voted to approve a ballot measure to extend Medicaid cover to over 40,000 low-income adults. Vox notes that this is now the seventh time in a row nationwide in which voters have approved such a measure.
Forbes: Medicaid Expansion Wins In Red State South Dakota
Voters in Republican-leaning South Dakota Tuesday approved a ballot measure to extend Medicaid benefits to more than 40,000 low-income adults. The vote by a wide margin of South Dakotans to expand Medicaid health insurance for low-income Americans under the Affordable Care Act is a political blow to Republican Gov. Kristi Noem, who opposed the ballot initiative. It’s also a setback for Republicans generally given their past unsuccessful efforts with Donald Trump to try to repeal the health law, also known as Obamacare. The Medicaid expansion measure known in South Dakota as “Constitutional Amendment D” had 56% support compared to 44% opposed with 90% of precincts reporting by early Wednesday morning, state election data showed. (Japsen, 11/9)
Vox: South Dakota Voters Decide To Extend Medicaid Coverage To 45,000 People
Six times before this Election Day, voters in a state had weighed in directly on whether to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act and make more low-income adults eligible for free public health coverage. Six times, the ballot measure had passed. That undefeated streak has now reached seven wins with the passage of South Dakota Constitutional Amendment D on Tuesday, according to the election results from the South Dakota secretary of state’s office. (Scott, 11/9)
Politico: South Dakota Votes To Expand Medicaid 
“We are thrilled by this victory, which took years of work, coalition building, and organizing to achieve,” said Kelly Hall, executive director of the Fairness Project, which helped pass the ballot measure. “Citizens took matters into their own hands to pass Medicaid expansion via ballot measure — showing us once again that if politicians won’t do their job, their constituents will step up and do it for them.” (Messerly, 11/9)
Californians Defeat Dialysis Clinic Proposition, Ban Flavored Tobacco
California voted "no" on Proposition 29, which would have required more doctor staffing at dialysis clinics. Voters said "yes," though, to Proposition 31, a measure that bans most flavored tobacco products in the most populous state.
AP: Californians Reject Measure To Alter Dialysis Clinic Rules
For the third time in three straight elections, California voters rejected a ballot measure that would have mandated major changes to the operations of dialysis clinics that provide life-saving care to 80,000 people with kidney failure. Proposition 29 failed after nearly 70% of Californians voted “no” in returns late Tuesday. The measure would have required a doctor, nurse practitioner or physicians’ assistant to be present during treatment at the state’s 600 outpatient dialysis facilities. (Weber, 11/9)
Los Angeles Times: California Votes No On Prop. 29 For Dialysis Clinics Changes
Proposition 29 would have required dialysis clinics to have a doctor, nurse practitioner or physician assistant present while patients are receiving care at any of the state’s 600 dialysis centers. Clinics also would have been required to disclose if a physician had ownership interest in a facility and to report patient infection data. (Evans, 11/8)
On flavored tobacco —
Stat: California Bans Flavored Tobacco Products, Including Vapes
On Tuesday, Californians overwhelmingly voted to ban all flavored tobacco products in the state. The move makes California by far the largest state to ban such products, which are already illegal in a smattering of smaller states, including Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. (Florko, 11/9)
Los Angeles Times: Flavored Tobacco Banned In California As Prop. 31 Passes
California voters on Tuesday passed a ballot measure to uphold a 2020 law that banned the sale of most flavored tobacco products, giving anti-tobacco advocates an expected victory in a multiyear fight against the industry to mitigate a youth vaping crisis. (Wiley, 11/8)
Gov. Gavin Newsom wins reelection —
AP: California's Newsom Wins 2nd Term, Is White House Run Next?
Democrat Gavin Newsom easily won a second term as California’s governor on Tuesday, beating a little-known Republican state senator by mostly ignoring him while campaigning against the policies of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, two leading Republicans who also won reelection and like Newsom may run for president. … Speaking to supporters in Sacramento with his wife and four children by his side, Newsom again drew contrasts between himself and DeSantis and Abbot, saying he is “resolved to do more to advance that cause of freedom.” “We have governors that won their reelections tonight in other states that are banning books, that are banning speech, that are banning abortion, and here we are in California moving in a completely different direction,” Newsom said. “That’s a deep point of pride.” (Beam, 11/9)
Voters Have Their Say On Medical Debt, Pot, Mushrooms, Human Rights, More
In Arizona, voters overwhelmingly voted to decrease interest rates on medical debt. In Massachusetts, dental costs were front and center. In Pennsylvania, former heart surgeon and TV celebrity Dr. Mehmet Oz, a Republican, lost his bid for governor. Arizona Prop 209 To Decrease Interest Rates On Medical Debt Likely To Pass
The ballot proposition to decrease interest rates on medical debt is leading with 75% voter approval as of Tuesday night, according to unofficial election results from the Arizona Secretary of State’s office. If passed, Proposition 209 would reduce the maximum interest rates on medical debt from 10% to 3% annually. The measure would make certain assets exempt from debt collection, such as homes, household items, cars and bank accounts. (Ludden, 11/8)
On dental insurance costs in Massachusetts —
The Washington Examiner: Massachusetts Voters Approve Obamacare-Style Regulations Of Dental Insurance 
Massachusetts will become the first state to impose Obamacare-style regulation on dental insurance, requiring insurers to put a certain percentage of the premiums they collect toward dental care after a ballot referendum received wide support. The Medical Loss Ratios for Dental Insurance Plans Initiative will soon force dental insurers to spend at least 83% of premiums on dental services, versus administrative or other overhead costs, or refund the excess to beneficiaries. (Adcox, 11/9)
On mushrooms and marijuana —
AP: 'Magic Mushrooms' Vote Too Early To Call In Colorado 
A vote to decide whether Colorado will become the second state, after Oregon, to create a legalized system for the use of psychedelic mushrooms was too early to call Tuesday. The ballot initiative would decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms for those 21 and older and create state-regulated “healing centers” where participants can experience the drug under the supervision of a licensed “facilitator.” The measure would establish a regulated system for using substances like psilocybin and psilocin, the hallucinogenic chemicals found in some mushrooms. It also would allow private personal use of the drugs. (Peipert, 11/9)
AP: Voters Approve Recreational Marijuana In Maryland, Missouri
Voters approved recreational marijuana in Maryland and Missouri but rejected it in two other states, signaling support gradually growing for legalization even in conservative parts of the country. The results mean that 21 states have now approved marijuana’s recreational use. Arkansas and North Dakota voters rejected legalization proposals in Tuesday’s elections. A similar initiative went before voters in South Dakota, but early Wednesday it was too early to call. (DeMillo, 11/9)
On health care as a human right in Oregon —
AP: Oregon Gun Control, Health Care Measures Too Early To Call 
Oregon voters appeared closely divided late Tuesday on measures that would add permitting and training requirements for new gun buyers and amend the state’s constitution to explicitly declare affordable health care a human right. With roughly 40% of the vote counted in the vote-by-mail state, the outcomes of both races were too early to call. (Flaccus, 11/9)
Control of Congress is up in the air —
NPR: Democrat John Fetterman Beats Trump-Backed Dr. Oz In Pennsylvania Senate Race
Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman is headed to the U.S. Senate following a campaign full of personal health debates and a fight for control of one of the nation's battleground states. He defeated Trump-endorsed celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz. (Bustillo, 11/9)
The New York Times: Who Will Control The House And Senate? 
For the second Election Day in a row, election night ends without a clear winner. It could be days until a party is projected to win the House of Representatives. It could be a month until we know the same for the Senate. Here’s the state of the race for both chambers and when — maybe, just maybe — we’ll know the outcome. (Cohn, 11/9)
Supreme Court
Supreme Court Hears Indiana Nursing Home Case That Could Shake Medicaid
In the case of Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County v. Talevski, the Supreme Court justices appeared reluctant to side with the defendants who argued that Medicaid recipients did not have the right to sue for benefits. The court ruling in favor would largely gut rights within safety net programs like Medicaid and CHIP.
Axios: SCOTUS Seems Unlikely To Gut Suing Rights Of Medicaid Recipients
Supreme Court justices on Tuesday appeared unsympathetic toward an effort to bar Medicaid beneficiaries from suing for benefits the safety net program promises. (Moreno, 11/9)
Reuters: U.S. Supreme Court Weighs Barring Lawsuits Against Public Nursing Homes
The justices heard arguments in an appeal by Health and Hospital Corp of Marion County, an Indiana municipal corporation, of a lower court's ruling that let the family of Gorgi Talevski, a nursing home resident diagnosed with dementia, pursue a lawsuit claiming his rights were violated while at the facility. (Raymond and Chung, 11/8)
Indianapolis Star: SCOTUS Justice Brown Jackson Disputes Both Sides In Marion County Case
The U.S. Supreme Court’s newest member, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, grilled the attorney representing Marion County's public health agency Tuesday as she grappled with his controversial request to prohibit lawsuits against public agencies that violate federal nursing home law and welfare programs. (Magdaleno, 11/8)
Also —
Stat: Why Did SCOTUS Take Up Amgen Patent Case, But Not Similar Bristol Suit?
In a surprising move, the Supreme Court rejected a bid by a Bristol Myers Squibb unit to reinstate a $1.2 billion award it won in a contentious patent fight with a Gilead Sciences subsidiary over the lucrative market for gene therapies. (Silverman, 11/8)
Medicare Advantage Insurers Boosting Marketing Efforts
A report in Modern Healthcare says that insurers are stepping up their marketing to attract more enrollment. Separately, Oscar Health has "all but abandoned" that market after attracting too few policyholders. USA Today explains why private Medicare plans are set to pass traditional ones.
Modern Healthcare: Medicare Advantage Insurers Ramp Up Marketing Efforts
Health insurance agents set up enrollment booths at community events. In grocery stores, brokers offer prospective members sign-up sheets, often for private Medicare plans that are co-branded with the retailer. Insurers and their partners send letters to people who meet criteria for specialized plans. (Hartnett and Tepper, 11/8)
Modern Healthcare: Oscar Health's Medicare Advantage Business All But Shutters
Oscar Health has all but abandoned Medicare Advantage after attracting few policyholders during its four years in the market, CEO Mario Schlosser said during the company’s third-quarter earnings call with investors Tuesday. (Tepper, 11/8)
USA Today: Here's Why Private Medicare Plans Are Set To Pass Traditional Medicare Enrollment
Older Americans who sign up for private plans are enticed by lower monthly premiums and extra benefits not covered by traditional Medicare, such as vision, dental, hearing and gym memberships. Private plans also cap out-of-pocket expenses at $8,300 for 2023 coverage while traditional Medicare does not unless a person purchases supplemental coverage. (Alltucker, 11/8)
In other news about medical coverage —
Tampa Bay Times: Florida Could Surpass Record Affordable Care Act Enrollment In 2023
The window to enroll for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act began this week with many experts predicting that participation in 2023 will likely surpass the record 14.5 million people who signed up for insurance through the federal program this year. Florida, which led the nation with 2.7 million enrollees in 2022, could also surpass that number next year, said Jodi Ray, executive director of Florida Covering Kids & Families, which provides navigators across the state to help people pick and enroll in federal marketplace insurance plans. (O'Donnell, 11/4)
KHN: Ad Goes Too Far With Claim That Joe Biden Promotes Surgery For Trans Teens 
A radio ad targeting care for transgender youth began airing in cities around the country this fall — from Spanish-language stations in Corpus Christi, Texas, to sports talk shows in Tennessee to pop radio in Detroit. The ad, paid for by a political advocacy group founded by Stephen Miller, a longtime speechwriter and senior adviser to former President Donald Trump, were deemed so incendiary by one radio station owner that they were pulled in major markets. The minute-long script from America First Legal, titled “Not Anymore,” accuses President Joe Biden of “pushing radical gender experiments” with hormone therapy. (Farmer, 11/9)
Covid-19 Crisis
Rare Heart Issues May Be More Likely After Moderna Covid Shots Than Pfizer
A study reported in CIDRAP says that although myocarditis and pericarditis remain rare side effects after covid shots, they may be more likely after a second dose of Moderna's vaccine than Pfizer's. And a report in the LA Times reminds us that covid is still a leading cause of death in Los Angeles County.
CIDRAP: Risk Of Rare Heart Inflammation May Be Higher After Moderna Than Pfizer COVID Vaccine 
Myocarditis and pericarditis are rare after mRNA COVID-19 vaccination, but rates of the inflammatory heart conditions were twofold to threefold higher after receipt of the second dose of the Moderna vaccine than after the Pfizer/BioNTech formulation, suggests a head-to-head comparison in Canadian adults. (Van Beusekom, 11/8)
Los Angeles Times: COVID-19 Still A Leading Cause Of Death In L.A. County
According to an analysis from the county health department, COVID-19 was the second-leading cause of death in the first six months of 2022, illustrating the outsized impact the pandemic has had on mortality rates despite widespread availability of vaccines and the arguably less-severe Omicron strain. (Lin II, Money and Alpert Reyes, 11/8)
KHN: People With Long Covid Face Barriers To Government Disability Benefits 
When Josephine Cabrera Taveras was infected with covid-19 in spring 2020, she didn’t anticipate that the virus would knock her out of work for two years and put her family at risk for eviction. Taveras, a mother of two in Brooklyn, New York, said her bout with long covid has meant dealing with debilitating symptoms, ranging from breathing difficulties to arthritis, that have prevented her from returning to her job as a nanny. Unable to work — and without access to Social Security Disability Insurance or other government help — Taveras and her family face a looming pile of bills. (Ladyzhets, 11/9)
On the surge of flu and RSV —
NBC News: Rhode Island Pediatric Beds Are 100% Full Amid Surge In Respiratory Viruses
Every one of Rhode Island’s pediatric hospital beds was full on Sunday and Monday, according to an NBC News analysis of data from the Department of Health and Human Services. (Bendix, 11/8)
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Surge In Respiratory Cases Forces Children's Wisconsin To Adjust
As respiratory illnesses continue to surge, Children’s Wisconsin is rescheduling wellness visits at its clinics and rescheduling non-critical surgeries for its patients. (Van Egeren, 11/8)
The Wall Street Journal: How Does Flu Spread Compared With Covid? What To Know As Flu Cases Surge
Most scientists agree that influenza is transmitted most commonly through the air, but there is disagreement about whether the main vehicle is aerosols or droplets. Some scientists who study aerosol particles say flu mainly transmits through these tiny particles rather than through the larger droplets. That would mean you can get infected just by being in the same room with a contagious person—even far away—rather than having them sneeze on you or emit droplets while talking in proximity to them. (Ready, 11/8)
Health Care Personnel
Staff Issues Prompt 1 In 2 Nurses To Think Of Quitting Profession: Survey
The significant ratio of nursing staff who've considered leaving the profession is reported in Healthcare Dive. Nurses cited staffing shortages as the main reason, then poor work-life balance and mental health impacts. Other news reports examine nurses' stress levels, Corewell Health, rural health systems, and more.
Healthcare Dive: Half Of Nurses Consider Leaving The Profession, Survey Finds
Half of nurses have considered leaving the nursing profession, according to recent polls by staffing agency ConnectRN. Staffing shortages were the top reason nurses cited for planning to leave their jobs, followed by needing better work-life balance, the survey out Tuesday said. Nurses also said they planned to leave their roles because their mental health is at risk and they feel a lack of appreciation. (Mensik, 11/8)
Becker's Hospital Review: Nurse Who Called EMS On Own Hospital Speaks Out 
The nurse who called emergency services in response to staffing issues at Silverdale, Wash.-based St. Michael Medical Center spoke out about her decision and the events leading up to the call in a Nov. 8 opinion piece for (Bean, 11/8)
Becker's Hospital Review: Glasses Chart Nurse Stress Levels At Texas Hospital
Researchers at College Station-based Texas A&M University are monitoring nurses' eye movements with special glasses. They hope the results will point to causes of stress and burnout, according to a Nov. 8 article on the university's news site. Farzan Sasangohar, PhD, associate professor of industrial and systems engineering, and his research team had nurses at Houston Methodist Hospital wear the glasses during their 12-hour shifts. They collected data on "gaze behavior" — number of eye fixations, gaze entropy and pupil diameter — as well as heart rate and skin temperature. These metrics help researchers understand the wearer's mental load at different points in their shift, according to the article. (Kayser, 11/8)
Crain's Detroit Business: Corewell Health Develops RN Apprentice Program With Community College
Corewell Health West, formerly Spectrum Health, is partnering with a West Michigan community college to create the state's first registered nurse apprenticeship program. Corewell's Ludington Hospital is partnering with West Shore Community College in Scottville, about 9 miles east of Ludington, for the program. (Walsh, 11/8)
In other health industry news —
San Francisco Chronicle: UC Agrees To $6 Million Settlement With Family Who Accused UCSF Medical Staff Of Tearing Hole In Son’s Heart
A resolution has been found in the trial where a Santa Rosa family accused UCSF medical staff of tearing a hole in their son’s heart — leaving him permanently brain-damaged. (Vainshtein, 11/8)
Bloomberg: New Jersey Union Seeks Penalties For Health Insurer Horizon Over High Premiums
A New Jersey union is pressing the state to hold its largest health insurer accountable for rising costs after some public employees’ premiums for next year jumped more than 20%. (Tozzi, 11/8)
Stat: A16z Partners With Rural Health System To Give Its Companies A Place To Pilot
Innovative health tech startups with big ideas will not get very far if they cannot convince the turtles in the traditional health care system to give them a shot. To that end, Silicon Valley venture capital giant Andreessen Horowitz has partnered with rural health system Bassett Healthcare Network to serve as a sort of preferred testing ground for its portfolio companies. (Aguilar, 11/9)
An extortionist has released Australian patients’ medical data on the dark web —
AP: Hacker Releases Australian Health Insurer's Customer Data
Client data from Medibank, Australia’s largest health insurer, was released by an extortionist on Wednesday, including details of HIV diagnoses and drug abuse treatments, after the company refused to pay a ransom for the personal records of almost 10 million current and former customers. The material released on the dark web appeared to be a sample of the data that Medibank has determined was stolen last month, the company said. Medibank expects the thief will continue releasing data. (McGuirk, 11/9)
Science And Innovations
Paralyzed Man Can Type Over 1,000 Words Using Brain Implant
ScienceAlert, AFP and Stat report on the fascinating progress of an experiment to give a paralyzed man the ability to communicate using a brainwave-reading implant and computer system — it's now expanded the number of words he can spell out to more than 1,100. Other brain research includes CTE and binge-eating care.
ScienceAlert and AFP: Brainwave-Reading Implant Helps Paralyzed Man Who Can't Speak Spell Out 1,150 Words 
A paralyzed man who cannot speak or type was able to spell out over 1,000 words using a neuroprosthetic device that translates his brain waves into full sentences, US researchers said Tuesday. "Anything is possible," was one of the man's favorite phrases to spell out, said the first author of a new study on the research, Sean Metzger of the University of California San Francisco (UCSF). (Lawler, 11/9)
Stat: Brain Implants That Turn Thoughts To Speech Closer To Reality 
In 2003, Pancho’s life changed forever. That’s when a car crash sent the 20-year-old farm worker into emergency surgery to repair damage to his stomach. The operation went well, but the next day, a blood clot caused by the procedure cut off oxygen to his brain stem, leaving him paralyzed and unable to speak. (Molteni, 11/8)
In other brain research —
The New York Times: Brain Stimulation Could Limit The Urge To Binge Eat, Study Says 
What if an uncontrollable urge to rapidly eat large amounts of food is rooted in an impaired brain circuit? If that were the case, people who live with binge eating disorder — a psychiatric diagnosis — might be no more at fault for overeating than a patient with Parkinson’s disease is for their tremors. That question led doctors to try a new treatment different from anything ever attempted to help people with this common but underreported eating disorder. At least 3 percent of the population has it, said Dr. Casey Halpern, a neurosurgeon at the University of Pennsylvania. (Kolata, 11/8)
The New York Times: Do Concussions Cause CTE? Sports Doctors And Scientists Disagree
For the first time since 2016, one of the most influential groups guiding doctors, trainers and sports leagues on concussions met last month to decide, among other things, if it was time to recognize the causal relationship between repeated head hits and the degenerative brain disease known as C.T.E. Despite mounting evidence and a highly regarded U.S. government agency recently acknowledging the link, the group all but decided it was not. Leaders of the International Consensus Conference on Concussion in Sport, meeting in Amsterdam, signaled that it would continue its long practice of casting doubt on the connection between the ravages of head trauma and sports. (Belson, 11/8)
Prescription Drug Watch
1.3 Million People With Diabetes Rationed Insulin In The Last Year
Read about the biggest pharmaceutical developments and pricing stories from the past week in KHN's Prescription Drug Watch roundup.
The Washington Post: Over 1 Million Americans With Diabetes Rationed Insulin In Past Year 
In the United States, an estimated 1.3 million adults with diabetes — 16.5 percent of those who have been prescribed insulin to manage their disease — have rationed their use of the medication in the past year, according to a report published last month in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine. The researchers found that some people who ration insulin delay refilling their prescriptions, and others skip doses or take a smaller dose of insulin than needed. Insulin is a hormone, created by the pancreas, that helps the body turn food into energy and also helps control blood sugar levels. (Searing, 11/8)
In other pharmaceutical news —
CBS News: FDA Warns Of Risk Of Xylazine In Heroin, Fentanyl And Other Illicit Drugs Linked To Overdoses
The Food and Drug Administration released an alert Tuesday warning health care professionals to be "cautious" of an animal medication that has entered the illegal drug supply and been identified in overdoses. (Breen, 11/8)
Bloomberg: FDA Lags Behind Lab That Found Benzene In Dry Shampoos, Sunscreen
David Light can’t wait to show off his tchotchkes. The curly haired scientist lights up with boyish enthusiasm when he picks up a black coffee mug from the endless array of memorabilia in his office. It’s emblazoned with the trademark lettering of Zantac, the blockbuster heartburn drug. (Edney, 11/9)
USA Today: Tylenol, Pregnancy And Autism: Research Cautions Use Of Acetaminophen
Roberta Ness is on a mission to warn pregnant people to use less acetaminophen. The epidemiologist who helped convince jurors that baby powder likely causes ovarian cancer is now equally convinced of the dangers of frequent acetaminophen use during pregnancy. (Weintraub, 11/9)
The New York Times: How Well Do Antidepressants Work And What Are Alternatives?
Over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, rates of depression and anxiety soared, and many Americans turned to antidepressant medication to help them cope. Even before the emergence of Covid, 1 in 8 American adults was taking an antidepressant drug. According to one estimate, that number rose by 18.6 percent during 2020. Zoloft is now the 12th most commonly prescribed medication in the United States. Given this, you might assume that the question of how — and how well — these drugs work has been clearly answered. And yet recent papers have challenged their efficacy and actions in the brain. Some researchers even say the medications are barely better than a placebo and ask whether they warrant such widespread use. (Smith, 11/8)
Reuters: Moderna, Not U.S. Gov't, Must Defend COVID-19 Vaccine Patent Case For Now
Moderna Inc must face a patent infringement lawsuit over its COVID-19 vaccines, a federal judge in Delaware ruled Wednesday, finding that the biotech company has not shown that the U.S. government should have been sued instead. (Brittain, 11/2)
Reuters: GSK's Blood Cancer Drug Fails Main Goal Of Trial, Shares Fall 
GSK's blood cancer drug Blenrep failed the main goal of a late-stage study designed to show it was better than an existing treatment on the market, the company said on Monday. (Aripaka, 11/7)
ScienceDaily: DNA 'Nanotransporters' To Treat Cancer 
Chemists specializing in nanotechnology draw inspiration from nature to create molecular transporters that optimize the release of therapeutic drugs. (University of Montreal, 11/2)
Perspectives: More Research Needed On Psilocybin's Benefits; Tricks For Talking To Teens About Fentanyl
Each week, KHN compiles a selection of recently released health policy studies and briefs.
Bloomberg: Psilocybin Study: Magic Mushroom Research Risks Being Warped By Hype
A recently published study on psilocybin suggests it may have an immediate and profound effect on depression. It’s important research. But magic mushrooms aren’t the magic bullet that some purport. (Lisa Jarvis, 11/3)
The New York Times: How To Talk To Kids About Drugs In The Age Of Fentanyl 
In the age of fentanyl and other illegally manufactured synthetics, the danger associated with trying drugs is greater than ‌ever‌‌. If these girls had each swallowed a single Percocet — what they ‌thought they were buying — even the highest-dose pill is unlikely to have been fatal. (Maia Szalavitz, 11/8)
Undark: The Public Shouldn’t Pay For Drugs Twice
When covid-19 vaccines arrived in the winter of 2020, the much-heralded shots put a spotlight on the big pharmaceutical companies that had brought them to market — especially Pfizer and Moderna. It could be easy to miss one important detail: Those vaccines, like many of those companies’ flagship products, would not have been possible without public funding. (James Stout, 11/3)
The Star Tribune: Call Someone You Know At Risk Of An Overdose. Do It Now
Fentanyl is killing our kids, our neighbors, even your friends. Lots of them. Every day and every night. It doesn't care if you are a doctor or a lawyer or a candlestick maker. It doesn't care which side of the tracks you live on. (Mark Stratman, 11/3)
New England Journal of Medicine: The Fibrates Story — A Tepid End To A PROMINENT Drug 
In this trial, 10,497 patients with type 2 diabetes, a triglyceride level between 200 and 499 mg per deciliter, and an HDL cholesterol level of 40 mg per deciliter or less were randomly assigned to receive 0.2-mg tablets of pemafibrate twice daily or placebo.In the PROMINENT trial, two cohorts of patients with diabetes underwent randomization. (Salim S. Virani, M.D., Ph.D., 11/5)
New England Journal of Medicine: A Modern Therapy For An Ancient Disease 
Treatment for chronic HBV infection now rests on the use of entecavir or tenofovir disoproxil fumarate, two orally available nucleoside or nucleotide analogues (NAs) with potent activity against HBV, a high barrier to antiviral resistance, and an acceptable side-effect profile. (Jay H. Hoofnagle, M.D., 11/8)
Editorials And Opinions
Viewpoints: Telehealth Access Should Become Permanent; Polio Vaccination Rates Must Increase
Editorial writers weigh in on these public health topics.
The Washington Post: Telemedicine Has Improved Health-Care Access. Let’s Keep It That Way
Telemedicine has emerged as one of the several crucial innovations coming out the coronavirus pandemic, making it easier for many people to access health care. But as the crisis phase of the pandemic comes to an end, these gains could be rolled back. (Leana S. Wen, 11/8)
Stat: 'Shoe Leather' Public Health Efforts And Polio's Re-Emergence
Ask most Americans to name a victim of polio and they’ll say President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Ask me the name of a polio victim and I would offer two: my father’s older sister and his youngest brother. (Ashwin Vasan, 11/9)
Chicago Tribune: The Long-Term Devastation Of COVID-19
The most immediate COVID-19 effect has been on K-12 education. In a trend that is unlikely to reverse anytime soon, math and reading scores for fourth and eighth graders have declined significantly in nearly every state, coincident with the pandemic. (Cory Franklin and Robert Weinstein, 11/8)
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