- California Healthline Original Stories 3
- Alzheimer’s 'Looks Like Me, It Looks Like You'
- Listen: How A 'Hippie Clinic' In San Francisco Inspired A Medical Philosophy
- HHS Nominee Vows To Tackle High Drug Costs, Despite His Ties To Industry
- Public Health and Education 2
- First-In-Nation Study Finds Distressingly High Suicide Rates For Calif.'s Prison Guards
- Flu Season Is 'One Of The Nastiest In Years'; Severity Of Symptoms Leading To More Hospitalizations
- Pharmaceuticals 1
- Despite Its Modest Goals, Promising Alzheimer's Drug Is Latest In Long String Of Failures To Combat Disease
- Around California 2
- California Ramping Up Safety Measures Around Lead In School's Drinking Water
- Rule About Proximity Of Sober Houses To Each Other Cited In Two Permit Denials
Latest From California Healthline:
At a panel discussion this week in Sacramento, patients, caregivers and others shared their perspectives on how Alzheimer’s disease affects women, who account for two-thirds of those living with the condition. (Ana B. Ibarra, 1/10)
The Haight Ashbury Free Clinic still serves people living on the fringes in San Francisco. This radio story recounts its 51-year history. (Carrie Feibel, KQED, 1/10)
Alex M. Azar II, the former president of the U.S. division of Eli Lilly, says the U.S. drug system encourages price increases — but he intends to work on that problem. (1/9)
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More News From Across The State
Inmate suicides have been intensively studied, but until now there has been limited research on how the job affects correctional employees.
The Associated Press:
California Examines Prison Guards' High Suicide Rate
Correctional Officer Scott Jones kissed his wife goodbye on July 8, 2011, and headed off to a maximum-security prison in the remote high desert of northeastern California. He never came home. Jones' body was found a day later, along with a note explaining why the 36-year-old took his own life: "The job made me do it." (1/9)
But in California, where a record number of people have died, Department of Public Health chief Dr. James Watt says, "Our hope is that because we started early, we'll end early.'' Meanwhile, officials say it's still important to get the flu vaccine even if it's not as effective as previous years.
Los Angeles Times:
California Flu Season Could Be One Of The Worst In A Decade, State Officials Say
California health officials said Tuesday that the state's flu season could turn out to be one of the nastiest the state has seen in a long time. "This appears to be one of the worst seasons we've had in the last 10 years," state epidemiologist Dr. Gil Chavez said in a call with reporters. "We're early, and we're trending up." (Karlamangla, 1/9)
In The Worst Flu Season In Years, Does The Vaccine Help At All? You Might Be Surprised
As hospital emergency rooms and clinics are inundated by patients with flu symptoms, the state Department of Public Health (CDPH) is working to confirm the number of flu deaths statewide. ... They said that 70 percent of those who died this season had not been vaccinated against the flu and 30 percent had received a flu shot. (Carlson, 1/9)
Ventura County Star:
Two More Flu Deaths Reported In Ventura County
As a California Department of Public Health official said the flu season could become among the state’s worst in a decade if it maintains its early pace, Ventura County officials reported two more flu deaths Tuesday. The new deaths linked to the flu bring the county’s total to 11, all reported by public health officials since Christmas. All but two of the deaths involved people 65 and older. A year ago, three county residents died over the entire flu season. (Kisken, 1/9)
The failure may mark the unraveling of an approach to Alzheimer's treatment that has held hope: increasing the supply of the brain chemical serotonin in patients.
Los Angeles Times:
One Of The Most Promising Drugs For Alzheimer's Disease Fails In Clinical Trials
To the roughly 400 clinical trials that have tested some experimental treatment for Alzheimer's disease and come up short, we can now add three more. An experimental drug called idalopirdine failed to help people with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease in a trio of trials that involved 2,525 patients in 34 countries. Not only did the drug fail to bring about any meaningful change in cognitive tests that are widely used in diagnosing and tracking the progress of the disease, it also failed to cause significant improvements in general measures of daily function among those taking it at any of three tested doses. (Healy, 1/9)
A recent law requires districts to test for lead at least once a year, or once every three years, depending on when the buildings were constructed.
Lead In The Drinking Fountain? California Schools Must Now Test For It
In Los Angeles, the district has been working for years to identify contaminated fountains and lower the lead levels. ...Now, under a new law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in October, public schools are required to get their drinking water sampled for lead, and notify parents if they find traces of the toxic metal. (Aguilera, 1/10)
In other public health news —
San Francisco Chronicle:
Made In China: New And Potentially Lifesaving Drugs
For years, China’s drug industry concentrated on replicating Western medicines. ... The country is now pushing to play a bigger role in the global drug industry. Millions of people in China have cancer or diabetes, and the government has made pharmaceutical innovation a national priority. (Wee, 1/9)
Research Uses Music To Reach People With Traumatic Brain Injuries
Science has shown music has a way of invoking memory. ...Now, researchers are trying to figure out whether music can be used as therapy for people once considered unreachable. (Faryon, 1/10)
Costa Mesa city officials have said the goal of that rule is to keep such operations from clustering and potentially transforming neighborhoods into institutionalized settings.
Los Angeles Times:
Costa Mesa Commission Denies Permits For 2 Operators Of Sober-Living And Treatment Facilities
The operators of a local sober-living home and several alcohol and drug treatment facilities left Costa Mesa City Hall empty-handed Monday night after the Planning Commission rejected permit applications for nine addresses. ...Commissioners largely based their denials on the fact that most of the properties violated the city’s requirement that group homes, licensed alcohol and drug treatment facilities and sober-living homes be at least 650 feet from one another in residential areas. (Money, 1/9)
At his second Senate hearing, Alex Azar was grilled by Democrats on the Finance Committee questioning his commitment to bringing down high drug costs because of his ties to the pharmaceutical industry. Azar shied away from endorsing the idea of the government to negotiating prices, a concept touted by President Donald Trump.
The New York Times:
Trump Likes Drug Price Negotiations; His Nominee For Health Secretary Doesn’t
Alex M. Azar II, President Trump’s nominee for secretary of health and human services, said Tuesday that he was wary of proposals for the government to negotiate drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries, an idea endorsed by Mr. Trump in the 2016 campaign. But Mr. Azar said that in some situations, he was willing to look at proposals to negotiate prices for a limited number of medicines. (Pear, 1/9)
The Associated Press:
Trump Health Pick Wary Of Government Drug Price Negotiations
Alex Azar, a former pharmaceutical and government executive, acknowledged to the Senate Finance Committee that drug prices are too high and said he'd work to lower them if confirmed as secretary of Health and Human Services. But he said allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices across the board would risk restricting choice for patients, since the government would have to establish an approved list of discounted medications. (1/9)
Health Secretary Nominee Indicates Support For Medicaid Overhaul
Azar appeared before the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday, which will ultimately decide whether to move his nomination forward. Azar also vowed to uphold Obamacare as long as it remained the law but said that the program needed changes. "I believe I have a very important obligation to make the program work as well as possible," Azar said during the wide-ranging hearing that lasted more than two hours. "What we have now is not working for people." (Abutaleb, 1/9)
HHS Nominee Azar Signals New Line Of Attack On Drug Prices
In that first hearing, Azar stuck to traditionally conservative policy ideas like encouraging the development of more generic drugs, including “a viable and robust biosimilar market,” and limiting abuses of the patent system. This time, however, he hinted that he is open to other policies that might go further to address the list prices that drug makers charge. “There’s no silver bullet here, though, I want to be very clear. There’s not one action that all of a sudden fixes this,” he said. (Mershon, 1/9)
The Wall Street Journal:
Trump HHS Nominee Defends Pharmaceutical-Industry Ties At Senate Hearing
Mr. Azar said in a hearing before the Senate Finance Committee that his past position as president of an Eli Lilly & Co. affiliate gives him a unique advantage in tackling drug costs. “From having worked for the last several years in that space—this is such a complex area, the learning curve for any other individual would be so high,” Mr. Azar said. Bringing down consumer prices would be a central goal, he said, adding, “There is no silver bullet here, I want to be very clear.” Democrats said they had concerns about Mr. Azar’s views on the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid spending, as well as his tenure in the pharmaceutical industry. (Armour, 1/9)
President Donald Trump signed an executive order that is geared toward helping new veterans transition to civilian life, which can be a particularly vulnerable time.
The Washington Post:
Trump Seeks To Reduce Suicide Among Recent Veterans With New Executive Order
President Trump signed an executive order Tuesday aimed at expanding mental-health care for transitioning veterans as they leave the military, in an effort to reduce suicides in a group that is considered particularly at risk. The order will take effect March 9 and is expected to provide all new veterans with mental-health care for at least a year after they leave the military. Trump gave the Defense Department, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Veterans Affairs 60 days to iron out details and develop a joint plan, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin said in phone call with reporters. (Lamothe, 1/9)
In other national health care news —
The New York Times:
Trump’s First Full Physical Is Approaching. What He Discloses Is Up To Him.
President Trump is a commander in chief who fuels himself with a steady stream of Diet Cokes, scoops of vanilla ice cream and slabs of red meat. He gets as little as five hours of sleep a night. He is not known to exercise more than the brief strolls beyond his cart on the golf course. This, he and his aides have maintained, is the very picture of presidential stamina. On Friday, Mr. Trump, 71, will undergo his first comprehensive physical examination as president, and the first formal check on his former doctor’s Trumpian 2015 campaign claim that he’d be the “healthiest individual ever elected” to the office. (Rogers and Altman, 1/9)
Alexander, Trump Discussed ObamaCare Fix In Nashville
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) says he spoke to President Trump on Monday about a bipartisan bill aimed at stabilizing ObamaCare markets and that Trump again expressed his support for the measure. Alexander told reporters Tuesday that Trump asked about the bill when the two appeared together at an event in Tennessee on Monday. Alexander said he told the president he would get back to him after meeting with Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) this week. (Sullivan, 1/9)
CDC Rejects Censorship Reports: 'There Are Absolutely No "Banned" Words'
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says it “has not banned, prohibited, or forbidden” the use of certain words in official documentation, the agency director says in response to concerns from Senate Democrats. Democrats had been concerned, they said last month, “that the Trump Administration is yet again prioritizing ideology over science” after reports claimed agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) had banned employees from using words including “fetus,” “vulnerable” and “science-based.” (Weixel 1/9)
The Associated Press:
Judge Urges Action On ‘100 Percent Manmade’ Opioid Crisis
A federal judge on Tuesday set a goal of doing something about the nation’s opioid epidemic this year, while noting the drug crisis is “100 percent man-made.” Judge Dan Polster urged participants on all sides of lawsuits against drugmakers and distributors to work toward a common goal of reducing overdose deaths. He said the issue has come to courts because “other branches of government have punted” it. (Welsh-Huggins, 1/9)
Senate Dems Seek $25B In Opioid Funding
Senate Democrats are pushing for an extra $25 billion to be included in any final budget agreement to combat the opioid epidemic. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan, a pair of New Hampshire Democrats who are leading the effort, said during a press conference Tuesday that the federal response to the crisis has been insufficient and negotiations over a long-term spending deal are an opportunity to change that. (Weixel, 1/9)
Kaiser Health News:
A Poor Neighborhood In Chicago Looks To Cuba To Fight Infant Mortality
Over the past few months, medical professionals on Chicago’s South Side have been trying a new tactic to bring down the area’s infant mortality rate: find women of childbearing age and ask them about everything.Really, everything. “In the last 12 months, have you had any problems with any bug infestations, rodents or mold?” Dr. Kathy Tossas-Milligan, an epidemiologist, asked Yolanda Flowers during a recent visit to her home, in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood. “Have you ever had teeth removed or crowned because of a cavity?” (Bryan, 1/10)