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Morning Rounds

Lawmakers work to finalize sweeping opioids bill

Lawmakers from both chambers are still hashing out the details of a final opioids bill that brings together the legislation passed by the Senate and a different version passed by the House. Yesterday, a particularly contentious provision was scrapped from the final legislation. It would have made it easier to share the medical records of patients with a history of addiction. The AMA opposed the measure, arguing it might discourage patients with substance use disorder from seeking treatment. 

The latest version of the bill also won't include a drug industry-backed provision that would relieve drug companies of some of their responsibility for certain Medicare drug costs, lobbyists tell STAT. More on the negotiations here.

U.K. opens inquiry into tainted blood products given to patients decades ago

The U.K. government has opened a public inquiry into how thousands of patients were given blood products contaminated with hepatitis and HIV in the 1970s and 1980s. For victims and their families, the investigation is a long time coming. Decades ago, patients with hemophilia and other bleeding disorders were being treated with a therapy that helped their blood clot. It was made from plasma pooled from donors — including people with infectious diseases. The government says the inquiry could take more than two years to complete.

Patients push lawmakers for more cancer research funding

Hundreds of cancer patients, survivors, and their families are headed to Capitol Hill today to lobby lawmakers to bump up funding for cancer research and prevention. The event is organized by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, which is also pushing lawmakers to make sure that colon cancer screenings are affordable for seniors. Specifically, they want lawmakers to close a Medicare loophole that they say can leave seniors with surprise costs if a polyp is discovered during a colonoscopy.

Inside STAT: To make better biomedical research tools, a grad student picks apart fireflies’ glow

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(RADIM SCHREIBER/FIREFLYEXPERIENCE.ORG)

Tim Fallon once nabbed about 100 fireflies from a New Jersey meadow in a bid to figure out which genes were highly expressed in the firefly's glowing spot. Now, two years after he scooped the fireflies up in butterfly nets, Fallon and his team at the MIT-affiliated Whitehead Institute are publishing this firefly's genome for the first time. They're hopeful the secrets to a firefly's glow could help other scientists develop better glowing tools to study disease and come up with therapies. STAT's Eric Boodman has more here

House votes on pandemic preparedness act

Meanwhile, the House is voting today on a bill that would reauthorize the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act, a law that enables federal agencies to spend money to plan for for natural and human-made disasters. For months, drug companies and public health advocates had pushed to include incentives for developing new drugs to combat antibiotic resistance into the bill, but those efforts didn’t pan out. The House is also voting on a bill that would allow pharmacists to tell consumers when it's cheaper to buy a drug without insurance. 

Mayo Clinic gets the Ken Burns treatment

PBS is airing a new documentary tonight — spearheaded by Ken Burns — that takes a deep dive into the Mayo Clinic. The two-hour film weaves together background about the Mayo Clinic's 150-year history and stories from modern-day patients at the Mayo Clinic. Among the patients featured in the documentary: the Dalai Lama and the late Sen. John McCain, who was treated for glioblastoma at the Mayo Clinic's outpost in Arizona. "The Mayo Clinic: Faith, Hope, Science" airs tonight at 9 p.m. ET and again Wednesday night. 

What to read around the web today

  • Juul copycats flood e-cig market, despite FDA rule. Reuters
  • Toothless Texas inmates denied dentures in state prison. Houston Chronicle
  • With rehab and a jolt to the spinal cord, paralyzed patients take steps again. STAT
  • Congratulations. Your study went nowhere. New York Times
  • With PBMs firmly in Washington’s crosshairs, their top lobbyist steps down with no regrets. STAT Plus

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,

Megan

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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

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