Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Morning Rounds by Megan Thielking

Good morning, folks! Here's what you need to know about health and medicine this morning. 

House takes on contentious 'right-to-try' bill

The House is slated to vote on a controversial “right-to-try” bill today. The legislation — which was penned by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and passed the Senate last fall — aims to give terminally ill patients a different pathway to access experimental therapies. Opponents say the bill would weaken the FDA’s oversight and argue the agency already has a way for terminally ill patients to use unapproved treatments. The FDA has said it approves 99 percent of requests, often quickly.

Last night, the White House signaled Trump will sign the bill if it passes the House, saying in a statement that "the Administration believes treatment decisions for those facing terminal illnesses are best made by the patients with the support and guidance of their treating physicians." 

An Ebola vaccination campaign is underway in Congo

campaign to immunize high-risk individuals with Merck’s experimental Ebola vaccine is underway in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where there have been 22 confirmed, 21 probable, and 6 suspected cases of Ebola. For the small community of researchers who've worked for years to develop an Ebola vaccine — one that's being used for the first time to try to contain an outbreak — the campaign represents a possible turning point that could shape the response to future Ebola epidemics. The vaccine will be used on a targeted group, including health workers. Yesterday, health officials reported that a nurse died of Ebola in Bikoro, the remote area where the outbreak began. 

Trump speaks at anti-abortion event as Title X changes loom

President Trump will deliver a speech tonight at an event for the Susan B. Anthony List, an organization that supports anti-abortion politicians through a political action committee. His speech comes as both anti-abortion and reproductive rights groups anxiously await the administration’s proposed changes to the Title X family planning program. The rule was expected Friday, but still hasn’t landed. On Friday, the White House said the upcoming proposal “would not cut funds from the Title X program,” but “would ensure that taxpayers do not indirectly fund abortions.”

Sponsor content by EMD Serono

Supporting military families with infertility 

Military personnel give their all for our country, and deserve the best our country can provide. This Military Awareness Month, we come together to address the health concerns of those who serve.

Infertility is one issue that can impact military families due to injuries or other reasons, and some of their health plans may limit infertility treatment coverage.

That’s why EMD Serono supports active, veteran and retired military members having trouble growing their families. Learn more.

Inside STAT: This 23-year-old is investing millions in the quest to defy death

Laura Deming appeared on a panel at the Milken Institute Global Conference. (JENNA SCHOENEFELD FOR STAT)

At age 11, Laura Deming sent a letter to University of California, San Francisco, researcher Cynthia Kenyon to see if she could ask her some questions about a career in biology. Kenyon discovered a single genetic mutation could double the lifespan of C. elegans worms, triggering a hunt for therapies to extend the human lifespan. At age 23, Deming is helping to fund that hunt. She created a venture capital pool she’s dubbed the Longevity Fund and has raised $27 million to invest in companies working on anti-aging treatments. STAT contributor Rob Waters has a profile of Deming — more for STAT Plus subscribers here

SCOTUS lets lawsuit over eye drop bottles advance

The Supreme Court says it won’t hear a case against pharma companies accused of making eye drop dispensers too big — and running up costs for patients taking pricey drugs for glaucoma and other conditions. The patients say that eye drop bottles dispense more liquid than the eye can hold, so they waste some of the product each time it’s used. The companies named in the suit — including Allergan, Merck, and Bausch & Lomb — asked SCOTUS to stop the suit from proceeding in federal court, but it can now move forward.

The uninsured rate stayed fairly steady in 2017 

In spite of political battles over the ACA last year, the uninsured rate stayed fairly flat in 2017, according to a new CDC report. The analysis found there were 29.3 million people without health insurance in 2017, down from 48.6 million in 2010. Among adults ages 18 to 64 in 2017, 13 percent were uninsured, 19 percent had public coverage, and 69 percent had private health insurance. Among kids, 5 percent were uninsured, 41 percent had public coverage through programs like CHIP, and 55 percent had private insurance.

What to read around the web today

  • Predatory behavior runs rampant in Facebook's addiction support groups. The Verge
  • Most emergency docs report shortages of critical medicines. STAT Plus
  • The opioid crisis is not just an American epidemic. Buzzfeed
  • For cancer patients, Trump’s drug pricing proposal falls short. STAT

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,


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