- California Healthline Original Stories 2
- Feds Urge State Medicaid Programs To Boost Use Of Long-Acting Contraceptives
- American ‘Stem Cell Tourists’ Don’t Have To Travel Abroad, Study Says
- Around California 2
- NIH Doles Out Record $120M To La Jolla Scientist
- Zika Outbreak, New Regulations Deliver Blow To Already Strained Blood Supply
- Public Health and Education 2
- When It Comes To Sunscreen, Don't Just Buy Based On Other Shoppers' Reviews
- Though Predicting Alzheimer's Remains A Daunting Task, Researchers Take Another Small Step
Latest From California Healthline:
Medicaid spends billions on unintended pregnancies, and federal officials say long-acting contraceptives such as IUDs are cost-effective and offer advantages for women. (Michelle Andrews and Ana B. Ibarra, 7/7)
Treatments marketed as everything from anti-aging applications to therapies for degenerative diseases are increasingly available at commercial clinics in the U.S., but their growing numbers raise ethical and regulatory concerns in the scientific community. (Zhai Yun Tan, 7/7)
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Summaries Of The News:
Robert Moxley, the attorney representing the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against California over its vaccination requirements, and Michelle Mello, a professor of law at Stanford, talk about the merits of the case.
California Makes Vaccines Mandatory For Schoolchildren — Which Side Are You On?
As California’s new law requiring almost all children entering day care, kindergarten or 7th grade to be vaccinated against various diseases took effect Friday, opponents filed a federal lawsuit seeking to have the law overturned. The suit, filed by six parents and four advocacy groups in U.S. District Court in San Diego, argues that the law violates the California Constitution’s guarantee of a public education for all children. It also claims the law violates the rights to, among other things, equal protection and due process guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. (Glickman, 7/6)
The drug -- called Xtandi -- has provoked a takeover battle over San Francisco biotech firm Medivation, the company that sells it. The fight highlights how lucrative the market for new cancer treatments has become.
Los Angeles Times:
Cancer Drug Discovered By UCLA Sets Off Takeover Fight Among Biotech Companies
A high-priced prostate cancer drug discovered at UCLA is at the center of a multibillion-dollar takeover battle that has several giant pharmaceutical firms eyeing the purchase of San Francisco biotech firm Medivation. Medivation sells the drug Xtandi for about $129,000 a year. Earlier this year, two nonprofit groups asked the federal government to allow other companies to sell the drug at lower prices. The groups argued that the federal government had a right under the law to allow lower-priced competition because UCLA scientists had used taxpayer-funded grants to discover Xtandi. (Petersen, 7/6)
The grant, which was awarded to Dr. Eric Topol, is part of the Obama administration’s Precision Medicine Initiative, which will customize patient care through big advances in digital technology.
The San Diego Union-Tribune:
Scripps Research Gets Record $120M To Change Medicine
The National Institutes of Health is giving a La Jolla scientist a record $120 million to help medicine make a historic shift to treating patients based on their specific genetic makeup, lifestyle and environment. Dr. Eric Topol will co-lead the effort to enroll and engage 1 million Americans in a study that will deeply explore people’s health and regularly provide them with information that they can share with their doctors. (Robbins, 7/6)
In other news, oncology centers in Carmichael and Vallejo were chosen by CMS for a new initiative to lower costs —
Capital Public Radio:
California Cancer Centers Selected For Program To Improve Care, Lower Costs
Improving cancer care for Medicare recipients is the goal of a new initiative by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Sierra Hematology Oncology Medical Center in Carmichael and Solano Hematology Oncology in Vallejo are two of 16 statewide chosen for the Oncology Care Model, which encourages doctors to improve care and lower costs through 24/7 access to care, coordinating appointments with outside providers, and easier access to emotional support groups. (Johnson, 7/6)
Travel restrictions put in place because of the virus are having a "significant" impact on the blood supply. On top of that, there's a new FDA rule on the minimum acceptable hemoglobin level for male blood and platelet donors, which had one hospital turning away 8 percent of potential donors.
Blood Banks' New Summer Challenges: Zika, Donor Iron Levels
The summer has always been tough for blood banks: High schools and colleges, which often hold blood drives, are out of session, and regular donors go on vacation. But this year, a couple of new factors are aggravating the shortage: the Zika outbreak and new donor rules for hemoglobin levels. In February, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended that people defer giving blood for four weeks after traveling to areas where Zika virus is transmitted. (Plevin, 7/6)
From wearables that can keep track of vitals or alert family members to a fall to interconnected devices that could drastically reduce the toll of immobility, the Internet of Things has made many promises to seniors. But for several reasons, its adoption leaves much to be desired.
San Francisco Business Times:
How The Internet Of Things Can Improve Healthcare For Seniors
The rise and popularity of smart devices over the past decade has many consumers bracing for a Jetsons-style future when nearly all household objects start communicating with one another. We’re already using our smartphones to control and monitor our thermostats, doorbells, kitchen appliances, the dog’s eating schedule, our own health, and more. (Townsend, 7/7)
Scientists researched the top-rated sunblocks on Amazon.com and found that 40 percent of them came up short in terms of doctor-recommended standards.
4 In 10 Top-Selling Sunscreens On Amazon Don't Meet Dermatologists' Standards, Study Says
If you want to know which headphones will stay in your ears when you go for a run or which books you should bring to the beach, the customer reviews on Amazon.com can offer helpful advice. But if you’d like to know which sunscreens are best equipped to reduce your risk of skin cancer, you might want to check with a doctor instead. A new study examined the top consumer-rated sunscreens sold on Amazon.com and found that 40% of them did not meet the criteria put forth by the American Academy of Dermatology. (Kaplan, 7/6)
Scientists have developed a genetic test that can help identify people who are at unusually high risk of developing symptoms of dementia as they age. The test only underlies how complex truly predicting someone's risk for Alzheimer's is, but it's “an important first attempt," researchers say. In other news, experts talk about how chemicals could impact children's development.
Los Angeles Times:
Researchers Develop Genetic Test That Can Predict Your Risk Of Alzheimer's Disease
New research into the genetic underpinnings of Alzheimer’s disease offers fresh evidence that the devastating brain disorder may gain a foothold years before dementia sets in, and takes a key step toward earlier detection of the disease. In a study that scoured the genes of healthy young people for the presence of variants linked to Alzheimer’s disease, researchers have found that those who carried many of the telltale gene variations had a smaller hippocampus -- a brain structure that is crucial to memory-formation – than did their peers with few of the genetic variations. (Healy, 7/6)
Report: Chemicals In Household Products Negatively Impact Children’s Development
Last week a coalition of leading physicians, scientists and health advocates called for tougher regulation of chemicals in common household items — including flame-retardant furniture and food wrapping. We’ll talk with experts about how these chemicals could impact your child’s development, and about how to reduce your family’s exposure. We’ll also discuss the sweeping new federal law on toxic chemicals, which Congress passed last month. (Lagos, 7/7)
The report by two House committees is expected to be released Thursday.
The New York Times:
House G.O.P. Returns Focus To Obamacare’s Spending Authority
The Obama administration knowingly spent billions in health care dollars without proper congressional authority and went to “great lengths” to impede congressional scrutiny of the money, Republicans on two major House committees said in a report that will be made public on Thursday. An extensive investigation by the Ways and Means and the Energy and Commerce Committees concluded that the administration plowed ahead with funding for a consumer cost-reduction program that was central to the new health insurance law even though Congress did not provide money for it. (Huse, 7/7)
In other national health care news —
The New York Times:
Congress Splits Over Bill Aimed At Nation’s Opioid Epidemic
A partisan feud over money to treat drug addicts split a House and Senate conference committee on Wednesday as it considered legislation to address the nation’s deadly opioid epidemic, imperiling a bill many had hoped would be one of this Congress’s most significant accomplishments. Democrats on the conference committee lost in their effort to insist that the bill include at least $920 million to help pay for additional treatment of addicts, most of whom cannot find or afford the treatment they need. (Harris, 7/6)
The Wall Street Journal:
House Passes Mental Health Bill
The House passed legislation Wednesday to overhaul the nation’s mental health system, the first effort by lawmakers to specifically tackle federal policies on serious mental illness. The bill passed 422-2, overwhelming support that reflected a decision by sponsors to defer debates on some of its most controversial aspects. The bill would reorganize the federal agency overseeing mental health policy, direct funding to combat serious mental illness as opposed to general mental health programs, and change Medicaid reimbursements for treating patients with illnesses like schizophrenia. (Radnofsky, 7/6)
House GOP Unveils Health Spending Bill
House Republicans on Wednesday released their healthcare spending bill for fiscal 2017, boosting funding to fight opioid abuse and the Zika virus while taking aim at ObamaCare and abortion. The measure from the House Appropriations Committee includes extra funding in hot-button areas where Democrats have demanded immediate funding outside of the regular appropriations process. (Sullivan, 7/6)
The Associated Press:
VA Puts Latest Estimate Of Veteran Suicides At 20 Per Day
On average, 20 veterans a day committed suicide in 2014, a slight decrease from the previous government estimate, but federal health officials are cautious about concluding the suicide problem is getting better. Rather, they say the Department of Veterans Affairs is relying on a more comprehensive database than ever before, making comparisons to prior studies difficult and possibly offering a truer snapshot than what was captured in the past. (Freking, 7/7)
The Associated Press:
Study: Insurers' Spending On Costly Meds Soared From 2003-14
The latest study of medicine prices finds U.S. insurers' spending on expensive prescription drugs nearly quadrupled from 2003 through 2014, when the number of such prescriptions filled tripled. Spending on expensive "specialty" drugs by commercial insurance plans jumped from 11 percent of spending on all prescriptions filled in 2003 to 43 percent in 2014, according to the study, published Wednesday by the journal Health Affairs. Meanwhile, the number of prescriptions for specialty drugs rose from 0.6 percent of prescriptions filled in 2003 to 1.8 percent in 2014. (7/6)
Pro-Abortion Rights Group Lumps Vulnerable GOP Senators In With Trump
With the Republican National Convention fast approaching, a pro-abortion rights group is working to tie GOP members of Congress who have said they’ll skip the event in Cleveland to their party’s presumptive presidential nominee. NARAL Pro-Choice America kicked off its online advertising blitz Thursday with the slogan #TrumpSquadGoals, linking vulnerable Republican senators and congressmen with anti-abortion views to Donald Trump and GOP party leadership. (Nelson, 7/7)