Morning Rounds

Good morning! STAT Plus Editor Liz Cooney here, filling in for Megan for the remainder of the week.

Planned Parenthood gears up for abortion battle

On the heels of Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court, Planned Parenthood just announced it's stepping up its efforts to expand abortion access in states. The group will put a particular focus on expanding access in states where abortion is seen as likely to remain legal and connecting women via telemedicine to medication abortion. The court now has a majority of anti-abortion justices.

"We know that we’ll need an ironclad network of states and providers across the country where abortion will still be legal and accessible, no matter what happens at the Supreme Court," Dr. Amy Whitaker, medical director at Planned Parenthood of Illinois, said in a statement.

In signing his first drug pricing bill, Trump flubs the details

President Trump has marked the first legislative accomplishment to come out of his May blueprint aimed at lowering prescription drug prices. He signed two bills yesterday banning gag clauses, which prevent pharmacists from informing customers when it’s cheaper to buy a drug without insurance. Neither will directly lower prices; the changes will only affect what some people pay at the pharmacy counter. But that’s not how Trump explained it. “This gives people knowledge as to prices at different locations, where to buy the drugs,” Trump said. Except it won’t. Gag clauses, in reality, affect pharmacists far more than individual patients.

Despite plummeting smoking rates, tobacco still tops cancer deaths

More than half of the 26 percent drop in cancer death rates in the U.S. since 1991 can be traced to fewer people smoking. Still, 1 in 5 cancers are related to tobacco, leading all cancer deaths. That makes expanded tobacco control the strongest push for the American Cancer Society in its new reportOther risk factors considered modifiable are weight, alcohol, diet, and physical activity.

Hong Kong is taking a different tack: It just announced plans to ban e-cigarettes and other new smoking products that may lead to nicotine addiction.

Inside STAT: As ketamine clinics spread, so do start-your-own-business courses, sparking concern 

Eros Dervishi for STAT

Ketamine clinics are popping up around the country, offering a drug originally used as an anesthetic as an experimental therapy for depression, anxiety, and a slew of other conditions. A sign of that boom: training centers teaching everyone from anesthesiologists to advanced practice nurses how to set up their own ketamine clinics. But some mental health experts say there isn't enough known yet about ketamine’s value as a psychiatric treatment to offer such training. “If I thought there was a standard protocol … then I think [training] could be very useful. But I’m not sure we have that yet,” said Yale's Dr. Gerard Sanacora. STAT's Megan Thielking has more here.

U.K. names minister for suicide prevention

The U.K. has just named a minister for suicide prevention, following an appointment earlier this year of a minister for loneliness. In her new role, Jackie Doyle-Price will help elevate mental health as new funding flows into the National Health Service. Both appointments are part of a broader campaign in the U.K. to cope with mental health issues after a decade-long austerity budget. Suicide is the leading cause of death for men under 45 and one-quarter of young people who require mental health services are unable to get help, according to a government report.

What’s in your nail polish?

Certain toxic chemicals — DnBP, toluene, and formaldehyde — that make nail polish easy to apply and hard to chip off have earned such a bad rap that some polish labels now boast their absence with the phrase "3-Free." But a new study from Harvard public health researchers suggests that, in some cases, one of those toxic chemicals is being swapped for another that also can harm reproductive health, fetal development, and thyroid function. Since the FDA and OSHA have little oversight, the authors say "the limited regulation of ingredients in nail polish may leave nail polish users and nail salon workers vulnerable."

What to read around the web today

  • Opinion: A tortured choice for immigrants: your health or your green card? New York Times
  • WHO voices alarm as academics denied visas to visit UK conference. The Guardian
  • After prison, many people living with HIV go without treatment. NPR
  • New data for Genentech’s MS drug shows benefit of early treatment. STAT Plus 
  • Democrats fail to overturn Trump administration rule on ‘junk’ insurance plans. Washington Post

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,

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Thursday, October 11, 2018


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