Latest From California Healthline:
Biologic drugs, made from living organisms, are big moneymakers partly because they have little competition from “biosimilars.” It’s a very different story in Europe. (Sarah Jane Tribble, 1/28)
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THE RISKS AND REWARDS: Gov. Gavin Newsom swept into office with an ambitious health care agenda that has been seen by experts as a shot across the bow at the Trump administration. Newsom’s proposals—such as extending care to undocumented adults and giving the government power to negotiate drug prices—could be used as templates by other progressive states and cement him as a leading figure on health care in the party. But with that potential for great payout comes political risks as well. Read more about it in Politico.
‘UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES’: Faced with personal stories from pain patients who are unable to get their medications, California lawmakers are moving to delay new regulations that are geared toward curbing the opioid crisis. The measure, which was supposed to go into effect this year, established a new method for validating prescription numbers and limiting the companies that could print the prescription forms. A new bill would delay the implementation of the rules until next year. Read more in the Sacramento Bee.
A MILDER FLU SEASON? Despite the fact that health officials have been saying this year’s flu season would be milder than last year’s vicious one, the number of young people dying in California has actually gone up. Experts say that’s because of the type of flu that’s spreading through the state. About 90 percent of people testing positive in California have had swine flu, which tends to be the most dangerous for children and young adults. Read more in the Los Angeles Times.
SHUTDOWN, PATENTS AND TAINTED DRUGS: The shutdown may have finally ended, but for federal contractors the long-term financial damage hangs like a dark cloud over their heads. Unlike federal employees who have been guaranteed back pay, the contractors have no legal claim to the five weeks of lost wages. In addition, some of them lost their health care because their companies couldn’t afford to pay the premiums. “It feels like we are still hostages,” one says in the Washington Post’s coverage.
Meanwhile, in other national news, one drugmaker’s strategy to use a Native American tribe’s sovereign immunity as a way to keep generic competition out of the marketplace is drawing scrutiny. The Supreme Court will be asked to weigh in on the deal, but beyond that, it’s likely to become a part of Congress’ broad investigation into high drug prices. Check out The New York Times' story.
And the FDA warns that up to 2 million people have been exposed to probable carcinogens in popular blood pressure medicine, according to the Washington Post. The agency, however, say that the risk to individual patients is low.
Below, check out the full round-up of California Healthline original stories, state coverage and the best of the rest of the national news for the day.
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More News From Across The State
Newsom Makes Health Care The Centerpiece Of California’s Resistance To Trump
For California under Gov. Gavin Newsom, the resistance to President Donald Trump is about health care. Much as his predecessor Jerry Brown made climate change the state’s big challenge to Trump, Newsom has embarked on a health agenda that includes extending care to undocumented adults and direct government negotiation of drug prices. (Colliver, 1/27)
CA Lawmakers Acting To Ensure Patients Can Get Painkillers
Concerned that patients are having trouble getting critically needed medications, California Assembly members Jim Cooper and Evan Low are moving to give regulators and medical boards more time to make changes to prescription forms that were supposed to go into effect Jan. 1. In a Jan. 14 article, The Sacramento Bee revealed that doctors statewide were having trouble getting their prescriptions filled for patients who needed pain medications, even for patients who had just had surgery. The problem was occurring, doctors said, because printing companies and doctors didn’t have the advance notice needed to make newly mandated changes to prescription pads. (Anderson, 1/24)
Nurse Accused Of Selling 20,000 Opioid Pills Online
Federal agents have arrested a Rancho Cordova nurse in what they describe as a scheme to run an online pharmacy that sold more than 20,000 opioid prescription pills to customers nationwide using dark web internet accounts. Carrie Alaine Markis, 46, was arrested Thursday on charges of conspiracy and distribution of fentanyl and was being held without bail in the Sacramento County Main Jail. (Stanton, 1/25)
Los Angeles Times:
More Young Californians Dying Of Flu Than In Years Past
As flu illnesses began sweeping across the nation in the last few weeks, health officials maintained that this year’s influenza season would most likely be milder than last year’s — but new data show the number of deaths linked to the flu is higher than in previous years.In the last flu season, so many people fell ill that hospitals overflowed with patients and ran out of medicines. (Karlamangla, 1/25)
Los Angeles Times:
School Homicides Have Become More Common And More Deadly, CDC Data Show
A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms what too many students across the country already know: The incidence of mass homicides on school campuses has risen steeply in recent years, as has their toll. Between 1994 and 2018, there were 38 school rampages that resulted in multiple fatalities. Five of those occurred during the 2017-2018 academic year, which ended in June, and three others were in the 2016-2017 school year, according to a study in Friday’s edition of the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. (Healy, 1/25)
New Study Provides 1st In-Depth Look At Severity Of Electric Scooter Accidents
Researchers at UCLA have found that 1 in 3 people in the Santa Monica, California, area involved in an electric scooter accident were hurt so severely, they needed to be transported to an emergency room by ambulance. ...The study found less than 5 percent of the patients wore helmets while riding, signaling a low rider adherence to the safety protocols — such as wearing a helmet — that e-scooter companies recommend. (Mullins, 1/25)
San Francisco Chronicle:
SF Mayor Breed Attempts To Free Up Some Prop. C Homeless Money Despite Court Cases
San Francisco Mayor London Breed is planning to roll out an unusual and elaborate proposal in an attempt to unlock some of the money brought in by Proposition C, the November ballot measure that raised taxes on big businesses to fund homelessness programs. Breed is expected to introduce legislation Tuesday that would give individual businesses subject to Prop. C’s tax the option of letting the city keep the money they pay — even if the courts ultimately strike down the measure and order the funds repaid. (Fracassa, 1/25)
The Mercury News:
California Surgeon, Girlfriend Accused Of Raping 7 Women Say DA’s Office Misled About Videos
Attorneys for a Newport Beach surgeon and his girlfriend charged with drugging and raping seven women are accusing prosecutors of making false and reckless public misstatements regarding videos the Orange County District Attorney’s Office initially alleged may depict the pair having sex with intoxicated women. After reviewing the videos, defense attorneys representing Grant William Robicheaux and Cerissa Laura Riley say they do not depict any rapes, despite “set(ting) off a frenzy that completely destroyed the integrity of this case and the defendants’ ability to obtain a fair trial,” according to a motion filed this week in Orange County Superior Court. (Emery, 1/27)
The Washington Post:
‘It Feels Like We Are Still Hostages’: Federal Contractors Who Lost Health Insurance During Shutdown Remain In Limbo
Janice Morgan, a federal contractor out of work because of the government shutdown, spent part of January fearing that she might finally lose her husband, Milton, to his battle with multiple sclerosis. He was in intensive care. An infection had sent his heart rate and blood pressure soaring. And when she tried nine days ago to fill his prescription for a $7,600-a-month medication, another blow came: Her insurance coverage had been canceled. Morgan called her boss, the president of Unispec Enterprises, a contracting firm that provides personnel to government agencies. He told her that the shutdown had left him unable to pay the company’s premiums. Soon, all 75 of Unispec’s technical writers, data analysts and economists — most of whom have their coverage through the firm — would learn of the lapse in an email. (Davis and Satija, 1/27)
The New York Times:
‘Our Country Is Being Run By Children’: Shutdown’s End Brings Relief And Frustration
Some cried with relief. Their 35-day nightmare of missing bill payments, working without paychecks, asking strangers for money and visiting food pantries was finally ending. But many of the federal workers who have been furloughed or working for free since December were leery of the three-week deal reached on Friday to reopen the government. New worries gnawed: How long before they got paid? Would federal contractors see even a dime of back pay? (Healy, Taylor and Bernard, 1/25)
The New York Times:
Indian Tribe Joins Big Pharma At The Supreme Court, Defending A Lucrative Deal
When a pharmaceutical company sold its patent rights for a blockbuster drug to an Indian tribe 16 months ago, stymied competitors and consumer groups condemned the move as a flagrant abuse of the patent system. This month, the company, Allergan, doubled down, asking the Supreme Court to rule that the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe can use its sovereign immunity to fend off challenges by makers of low-cost generic copies of the best-selling prescription eyedrops, Restasis. (Pear, 1/26)
The Associated Press:
Trump Donates $100,000 From Salary To Alcoholism Research
President Donald Trump has donated his salary from the third-quarter of 2018 to the federal agency that researches alcoholism and alcohol-related problems. The White House says Trump donated $100,000 to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Alcoholism is a personal issue for the president. His older brother, Fred Jr., died in 1981 after struggling with alcoholism, and the president has said he learned from his brother's experience. (1/25)
The Washington Post:
FDA Identifies Contamination Source In Blood Pressure Medicines Used By Millions
Federal regulators say they’ve identified the source of the cancer-causing impurities that have tainted millions of bottles of commonly used generic blood pressure and heart failure medications recalled by drugmakers over the last seven months. The carcinogens are a chemical byproduct of the process used to synthesize the active ingredient in the drugs, which include valsartan, losartan and irbesartan. People who take those drugs may have been exposed to trace amounts of impurities for at least four years, after a switch in how companies manufactured the active ingredient, according to the Food and Drug Administration. (Johnson, 1/25)
Courts Say Anti-Abortion 'Heartbeat Bills' Are Unconstitutional. So Why Do They Keep Coming?
Time and again, when it's introduced in a state legislature, the bill is touted as the most restrictive in the nation. It's often referred to as a "heartbeat bill" and seeks to ban abortions at the time when a fetus' heartbeat can be detected, which can be as early as six weeks into a pregnancy -- before many women even know that they are pregnant. But just as often as they are introduced, these bills get stymied. They are held up in committees, rejected in legislative votes, vetoed by governors and struck down in courts. Not one state has managed to put a heartbeat bill into lasting practice. (Ravitz, 1/26)
The Associated Press:
Moms Of The Dead From Drugs: 'Where Is The Outrage For Us?'
The moms meet in a parking lot overlooking the little white funeral home and watch the mourners drifting toward the chapel doors — a familiar scene, beginning again. Cheryl Juaire taps nervously on her steering wheel. "Are we ready?" she asks the two other mothers leaning into the window of her SUV. (1/28)
The Digital Drug: Internet Addiction Spawns U.S. Treatment Programs
When Danny Reagan was 13, he began exhibiting signs of what doctors usually associate with drug addiction. He became agitated, secretive and withdrew from friends. He had quit baseball and Boy Scouts, and he stopped doing homework and showering. But he was not using drugs. He was hooked on YouTube and video games, to the point where he could do nothing else. As doctors would confirm, he was addicted to his electronics. (1/27)