- Women's Health 1
- State's Abortion And Reproductive Health Regulations Under Investigation By Trump Administration
- Around California 2
- Los Angeles Sees Hopeful Signs That Homeless Efforts Are Yielding Results
- Unsafe Drinking Water For 360,000 Is Creating A Crisis In California
- Pharmaceuticals 1
- Federal Law May Push Drugmakers Who Hesitated To Participate In California's 'Right-To-Try' Law
- Health Care Personnel 1
- New USC Board Chair Takes Reins Amid Turmoil Over Campus Gynecologist Misconduct Case
- Public Health and Education 1
- NIH To Examine Whether Kidney Transplants Should Include Donations From Patients With HIV
Latest From California Healthline:
Nicotine-loaded e-cig juices that spoof popular treats — marketed to help adults kick the smoking habit— instead may be luring youths into addiction. California Healthline’s Facebook Live peeled back the curtains on this wolf in sheep’s clothing. (5/31)
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More News From Across The State
The Department of Health and Human Services is scrutinizing requirements in California that “crisis pregnancy centers” tell women about state-subsidized family-planning services, including abortion, and that most health insurance plans cover abortions. Hawaii confirms that its similar rules are under review as well.
The Wall Street Journal:
Trump Administration Targets State Rules That Women Must Be Told Of Abortion Services
The Department of Health and Human Services is investigating requirements by California and Hawaii that anti-abortion “crisis pregnancy centers” tell women about state-subsidized family-planning services including abortion, according to people familiar with the matter. The HHS Office for Civil Rights has sent letters to the two states saying it has legal authority to investigate these requirements and is doing so, according to the people. The move is part of a new approach under the Trump administration to use civil rights law to roll back Obama-era health-care rules. (Armour, 5/31)
The homelessness rate dipped slightly this year, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority reports, though the same number of people are still living on the streets. News outlets cover how the the public health crisis is impacting other parts of the state, including how homelessness will impact the 2018 elections, San Diego's outreach efforts, and safety issues in San Francisco.
Los Angeles Times:
Homelessness Dips In L.A. And Countywide, But More People Are Living On The Streets For The First Time
After three years of precipitous increases, homelessness dipped slightly this year, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority reported Thursday, providing a hopeful sign that new money flowing into housing and services is having an effect. But in releasing results of the 2018 count, officials also warned that the number of people falling into homelessness for the first time increased, holding back the potential gains. And the report noted that three out of four homeless people in the county live on the street, a figure unchanged from last year. (Smith, Holland and Smith, 5/31)
Veteran Homelessness In LA Has Dropped By 18 Percent
The latest homelessness figures are out from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority – and for veterans, there's some good news. There are now 18 percent fewer homeless vets – 3,910, down from 4,800 in 2017, an 18 percent drop. ...In its latest report, the county also cites the Los Angeles VA's new focus on outreach to chronically homeless veterans suffering from mental illness, disability or substance abuse, a population that saw a 20 percent increase in last year's count. (Denkmann, 5/31)
Voters' Plea To S.F. Mayoral Candidates: 'Fix Homelessness'
Over the past few decades, San Francisco has spent billions of dollars to address homelessness. And yet many residents say the situation on the streets is worse than ever, with tents on sidewalks and people with serious mental illness roaming the streets. (Shafer, 5/31)
San Diego County Invests In Homeless Outreach To Reduce Emergency Room Costs
A pilot program is underway in San Diego County to bring health care and services to unhealthy homeless people who frequently use emergency rooms. The goal of Whole Person Wellness is to provide a path for healing while saving millions in Medi-Cal costs. (Murphy, 5/31)
Creating A Safe Passage For Kids In San Francisco's Gritty Tenderloin
The Tenderloin is notorious for the homelessness on its streets and open drug use and sales. But it is also one of the few affordable neighborhoods left in one of the most expensive cities in the nation, and is home to hundreds of low-income and immigrant families. (Romero, 5/31)
A McClatchy analysis of data compiled by the State Water Resources Control Board finds that 360,000 people are served polluted water. The Sacramento Bee offers a searchable database of counties that comply with drinking water standards.
360,000 Californians Have Unsafe Drinking Water. Are You One Of Them?
An estimated 360,000 Californians are served by water systems with unsafe drinking water, according to a McClatchy analysis of data compiled by the State Water Resources Control Board. In many communities, people drink, shower, cook and wash dishes with water containing excessive amounts of pollutants, including arsenic, nitrates and uranium. (Kasler, Reese and Sabalow, 6/1)
California Water Systems That Don't Comply With Drinking Water Standards
There are 3,015 independent water systems serving communities in California. As of May, 269 of these suppliers were out of compliance with state drinking water standards. Select your county to see if the water supplier for your community is out of compliance. (6/1)
The federal law provides broader legal protections for drug companies than does California, and it limits the the Food and Drug Administration's access to data collected through patients who seek the experimental drugs.
Capital Public Radio:
Federal Right To Try Law Could Mean More Access — And Risk — For California Patients
California’s Right to Try law is supposed to give terminally ill patients access to drugs that haven’t been fully approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Since it was enacted in 2017 drug companies have been reluctant to participate. A new federal law signed by President Donald Trump Wednesday could solve that problem, but opponents say it will undermine the FDA’s crucial drug-vetting process. (Caiola, 5/31)
'Right-To-Try' Intended To Weaken FDA, Key Senator Says In Blunt Remarks
Sen. Ron Johnson, the author of the federal “right-to-try” law signed by President Trump this week, wants to make one thing clear: His new law is meant to weaken the Food and Drug Administration. “This law intends to diminish the FDA’s power over people’s lives, not increase it,” he wrote in a letter to Commissioner Scott Gottlieb Thursday. (Mershon, 5/31)
Ruby Anderson, 76, had been missing for 10 days from a nearby mental health facility before her body was found in a power plant building at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. An autopsy is pending.
Los Angeles Times:
Woman Found Dead In Stairwell Of San Francisco Hospital Property Was Missing From Nearby Care Facility
A woman found dead in a stairway on the grounds of Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital was identified by officials as a resident of a nearby care home who had been missing for 10 days. The death of Ruby Anderson — who was discovered in a stairwell of the power plant building Wednesday afternoon — prompted swift changes on the sprawling campus as officials acknowledged gaps in security protocols. (Tchekmedyian, 5/31)
The Associated Press:
Missing Woman With Dementia Found Dead At SF Hospital Campus
"I don't know how she died," her daughter, Charlene Roberts, told KRON-TV . "Did she have a stroke or fell? I don't know what happened." Roberts, who gave her mother's age as 76, said the woman had dementia and two hearing aids and went missing on May 20 from a mental health facility. (5/31)
In other California hospital and medical center news —
Emergency Room Could Reopen Soon: Modesto Company To Manage Hospital In Coalinga
Coalinga Regional Medical Center has signed with a Modesto-based health company to take over management of the partially closed hospital beginning June 1, with a goal of reopening the emergency room and other services. The hospital board of directors approved a contract on May 24 with American Advanced Management Group, Inc., to run the hospital, which includes 24 acute care beds, 99 nursing home beds and a rural health clinic, said hospital CEO Wayne Allen. (Anderson, 5/31)
Santa Rosa Press Democrat:
Kaiser Permanente Opens Newest Sonoma County Medical Office Building In Southwest Santa Rosa
Five years in the making, the nearly $50 million building is equipped with 60 offices for medical providers and 102 medical exam rooms.Kaiser officials said the new building was necessary, as they’ve outgrown the main campus on Bicentennial Way. (Espinoza, 5/31)
SJ Hospitals Certified As Primary Stroke Centers
The San Joaquin County Emergency Services Agency announced late last week that six of the county’s seven hospitals have received designation as primary stroke centers following a 10-month implementation process. Dameron Hospital is expected to receive its designation by Sept. 1, said Dan Burch, the agency’s administrator. When that happens, Burch said, San Joaquin County will be the only county in California where all hospitals are certified as primary stroke centers. (Phillips, 5/29)
In his first act as chairman, Mall developer Rick Caruso hires a law firm to conduct a “thorough and independent investigation” into Dr. George Tyndall's conduct and the school's “reporting failures.” In other news: UCLA cardiologist Guillermo Andres Cortes is stripped of his license by state regulators who describe him as a "sexual predator."
Los Angeles Times:
Rick Caruso Is Named Chair Of USC's Trustees, Vows Swift Investigation Of Gynecologist Scandal
The University of Southern California’s board of trustees has elected mall magnate Rick Caruso to be the new chair of the board, giving fresh leadership as the university navigates a widening scandal involving a longtime campus gynecologist. The move marks the latest effort by USC to address the case, which has sparked a criminal investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department and dozens of civil lawsuits. More than 400 people have contacted a hotline that the university established for patients to make reports about their experience with Dr. George Tyndall. (Hamilton, Ryan and Curwen, 5/31)
Los Angeles Times:
UCLA Doctor Stripped Of License, Accused Of Sexually Assaulting Former County-USC Hospital Colleagues
A UCLA cardiologist has been temporarily stripped of his medical license after state regulators described him as a “sexual predator” who assaulted three female colleagues when he was working and training at L.A. County-USC Medical Center. (Parvini and Hamilton, 5/31)
The number of opioid prescriptions in the U.S. dropped 22 percent between 2013 and 2017, leading to an estimated 55 million fewer scripts, according to the doctors' group. These numbers are part of the American Medical Association's argument against proposed federal clinical practice legislation. Also in the news, an exposé on the marketing techniques used by some corners of big pharma regarding these medicines. Meanwhile, updates on California's experiment in distributing fentanyl tests.
Number Of Opioid Prescriptions Falls For Fifth Year In A Row
The number of opioid prescriptions issued nationwide has dropped by 22 percent between 2013 and 2017, which a doctors group touted as progress in fighting the epidemic of opioid addiction. The report from the American Medical Association (AMA) finds there were 55 million fewer prescriptions over that time period and the number of prescriptions has dropped for five years in a row. (Sullivan, 5/31)
“Behave More Sexually:” How Big Pharma Used Strippers, Guns, And Cash To Push Opioids
Around 2015, just before overdoses sweeping the country started making national news, a pharmaceutical sales representative in New Jersey faced a dilemma: She wanted to increase her sales but worried that the opioid painkiller she was selling was addictive and dangerous. The medication was called Subsys, and its key ingredient, fentanyl, is a synthetic opioid 100 times stronger than morphine. When the rep, who requested to go by her initials, M.S., voiced her concerns to her manager, she was told that Subsys patients were “already addicts and their prospects were therefore essentially rock-bottom,” according to a recently unsealed whistleblower lawsuit that M.S. filed after leaving Insys in 2016. To boost her numbers, the manager allegedly advised M.S. to “behave more sexually toward pain-management physicians, to stroke their hands while literally begging for prescriptions,” and to ask for the prescriptions as a “favor.” (Lurie, 5/31)
Another Insys Sales Rep Pleads Guilty To Bribing Docs To Prescribe Subsys
Yet another former Insys Therapeutics (INSY) sales rep has pleaded guilty to bribing doctors to write prescriptions for the Subsys opioid painkiller, which contains fentanyl and carries a high risk of dependency. Michelle Breitenbach, 38, who worked in New Jersey for the drug maker, paid kickbacks and bribes to an unspecified number of physicians in the form of speaking fees for purported education events, according to the New Jersey attorney general. She faces up to five years in prison. (Silverman, 5/31)
The Associated Press:
California Experiments With Distributing Fentanyl Tests
Michael Marquesen, executive director of needle exchange Los Angeles Community Health Project, said distributing the strips allows him to warn people about fentanyl and teach them how to use the anti-overdose medication naloxone. The tests have shown that 40 percent of the heroin in Hollywood contains fentanyl, he said. “The overdose rates in Hollywood are through the roof,” Marquesen said. “They keep rising every month.” (6/1)
Ethicists, patients, doctors and courts are wrestling with that question as efforts grow to expand care through better data and technology. Also, Stat offers a guide to CRISPR, and Madrigal Pharmaceuticals says one of its drugs has shown progress treating fatty liver disease.
When Scientists Develop Products From Personal Medical Data, Who Gets To Profit?
If you go to the hospital for medical treatment and scientists there decide to use your medical information to create a commercial product, are you owed anything as part of the bargain? That's one of the questions that is emerging as researchers and product developers eagerly delve into digital data such as CT scans and electronic medical records, making artificial-intelligence products that are helping doctors to manage information and even to help them diagnose disease. (Harris, 5/31)
CRISPR Advances Are Coming Fast. Here’s Your Guide
It lists studies from research journals, company announcements, and preprints, chosen because they reported a key advance in either the genome-editing technology or the diseases that might be treated with it. It also links to the research papers, though not all are open access (sorry). We’re not including everything, but we hope CRISPR Trackr gives you a sense of how quickly things are moving. We’ll update it as needed. (Begley, 6/1)
With Positive Data, Madrigal Joins Lucrative Race To Treat Fatty Liver Disease
Nine months of treatment with an experimental pill from Madrigal Pharmaceuticals resulted in the significant reversal of the fatty liver disease known as NASH, according to updated data from a placebo-controlled clinical trial released Thursday. A significantly greater number of patients taking the Madrigal drug also saw NASH liver symptoms resolve completely. There was a more modest reduction in the most troublesome tissue-scarring process known as fibrosis. The Madrigal drug is called MGL-3196. (Feuerstein, 5/31)
The study is designed to see if new transplant rules might help alleviate organ shortages. In other public health news: federal officials say they may never know the origin of the romaine lettuce E. coli outbreak; researchers want to know why some people cannot tolerate statins; domestic violence victims face concussion-related health problems; and ongoing struggles in Puerto Rico.
Study Aims To Show Transplants Between HIV-Positive Patients Are Safe, Save Lives
A large-scale clinical trial launched by the National Institutes of Health in May could pave the way for more HIV-positive patients with kidney disease to receive life-saving transplants. The trial, called the HOPE in Action Multicenter Kidney Study, will assess the risks of transplanting kidneys from HIV-positive donors into patients living with the virus, says Dr. Christine Durand, assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University and a principal investigator of the study. (Forman, 6/1)
The Washington Post:
Romaine Lettuce Made 172 People Sick. Government Investigators Might Never Know Why.
More than seven weeks after the start of a massive E. coli illness outbreak from romaine lettuce that sickened 172 people and caused romaine sales to plummet 45 percent, the Food and Drug Administration says it has no idea who or what caused the contamination. Agency investigators have not managed to trace the affected lettuce back to one farm, processor or distributor, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in an update Thursday. And with the affected lettuce now off shelves and the growing season over, there’s a chance the FDA may never crack the case. (Dewey, 5/31)
The New York Times:
How Many People Can’t Tolerate Statins?
Studies show that about 5 percent to 10 percent of people are unable to tolerate statins, largely because of muscle aches and related side effects, including potential muscle damage. But many people who have been labeled intolerant to the drugs probably are not, and medical researchers, normally a genteel lot, disagree sharply on the extent to which side effects are a problem. (Klasco, 6/1)
Domestic Violence’s Overlooked Damage: Concussion And Brain Injury
Hundreds of survivors of domestic violence have come through the doors of neurologist Glynnis Zieman’s Phoenix clinic in the past three years.“The domestic violence patients are the next chapter of brain injury,” she said. ... While many patients initially seek out the clinic because of physical symptoms, such as headaches, exhaustion, dizziness or problems sleeping, Zieman’s research shows that anxiety, depression and PTSD usually end up being the most severe problems, she said. (Stone, 6/1)
Kaiser Health News:
Listen: As Puerto Rico Struggles To Rebuild Health System, Changes In Medicaid Loom
KHN reporter Carmen Heredia Rodriguez joins in a discussion on WNYC’s “The Takeaway” about health care issues following widespread destruction by Hurricane Maria on the island. (5/31)
A selection of opinions on health care developments from around the state.
San Jose Mercury News:
Court Should Recognize Health Of Right-To-Die Law
Since California’s right-to-die law took effect June 9, 2016, none of opponents’ fears have been realized. The law has given terminal patients of sound mind the humane option of dying with dignity — on their own terms, rather than in excruciating pain. Arguing, as opponents do, that this harms these Californians rather than helps them ignores this reality: In about 5 percent of cases for terminally ill patients, it’s impossible to manage a dying patient’s pain with medication. (5/30)
Los Angeles Times:
California Should Fight The Good Fight Against Bad Health Insurance Policies
This one should be a no-brainer: California lawmakers are considering a bill that would ban so-called junk health insurance policies — short-term plans that do not comply with the consumer protections set out in Obamacare. These cheap plans typically offer no protection against the risk of bankrupting medical bills; instead, they cover just a limited number of doctor visits and days in the hospital, with glaring gaps in coverage, huge out-of-pocket costs and comparatively low caps on total benefits. (5/25)
Orange County Register:
How To Address The Coming Shortfall Of Primary-Care Physicians
By 2030, America will be short up to 43,100 primary-care physicians, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. As the training grounds for the doctors of the future, medical schools have a responsibility to help fix this shortfall. (G. Richard Olds, 5/26)
San Francisco Chronicle:
Protect The Services Needed By Those Who Served
Veterans like me need managed, culturally competent medical care, in a safe community that respects them. Private doctors do not understand the complexity of service-related health problems. (Howard L. Hibbard and Marcela Davison Avilés, 5/25)
Los Angeles Times:
Paint Companies Poisoned People With Lead Additives. Now They Want A Billion-Dollar Bailout
On the surface, the initiative sounds virtuous. ... But the real purpose is buried in legalese. The initiative would declare that lead paint is not a public nuisance, even though the court found that it was. That declaration would effectively reverse the court decision that put the paint companies on the hook, eliminating their obligation to pay for lead paint removal. It would also prevent other communities in California from suing paint companies in the future. (5/29)
Los Angeles Times:
Say What? How An $800 Charge For Hearing Aids Soared To A $3,600 Healthcare Bill
There are a few things to unpack here. First, how an anticipated $800 out-of-pocket cost skyrocketed to $3,600. Second, the challenge all consumers face in finding out the actual cost of healthcare. Finally, this is a growing problem. Hearing aids are fast becoming a concern for millions of Americans as our aging society places new strains on healthcare. (David Lazarus, 5/29)