Morning Rounds

Good morning, folks! Megan here, back with your daily dose of news in health and medicine. 

Senate prepares to vote on big opioid bill

The Senate will likely vote today on a sweeping bill to address the opioid epidemic. The bill gives the DEA more authority to reduce manufacturing quotas for controlled substances — including prescription opioids — when the agency suspects they’re being diverted. It also tells HHS to issue regulations allowing doctors to remotely prescribe treatments for addiction like buprenorphine and methadone. But there are still many key policy differences between the Senate bill and the House's own version that'll have to be resolved before a final measure makes it to President Trump's desk. More on what’s in the bill here.

AAAS adopts a new harassment policy for scientists

One of the nation’s most prominent scientific groups has adopted a new policy that creates a way to kick out members who have committed scientific misconduct or serious ethical breaches — including cases of sexual and gender harassment. The American Association for the Advancement of Science approved a procedure to consider claims of misconduct and revoke a scientist's membership. The move comes after a landmark report released in June found that sexual harassment takes a significant toll on women in academic science and medicine. Scientists have called on AAAS, the National Academies, and other groups to rethink their own harassment policies.

“We must do more as a scientific community to create a respectful and supportive environment for our colleagues and students,” AAAS President Margaret Hamburg said in a statement.

Health officials eye the evidence on probiotics

The FDA and the NIH’s infectious disease branch are convening a workshop today on probiotics and other products with live bacteria being used to prevent and treat diseases. There's growing interest in the potential health benefits of probiotics, but some experts say there’s a need for much more research. At today’s meeting, experts will talk about the evidence that live bacteria can be beneficial for certain conditons, like neonatal necrotizing enterocolitis. Dr. Pieter Cohen, who studies supplements at Harvard Medical School, said he hopes “the FDA will focus on how to modernize its antiquated approach to ensuring probiotic safety and ensure that only high-quality products are available to consumers.”

Inside STAT: Teams bring addiction care to patients, wherever they are


Emile Hebert (right) visits the Tom Waddell Health Center in San Francisco. (ERIC KAYNE FOR STAT)

San Francisco is home to one of a handful of novel programs across the country that are taking the unusual step of delivering comprehensive treatment for addiction to patients — wherever they are. Physicians and other health professionals approach patients in shelters, syringe exchange sites, and homeless encampments. They’re hoping to help patients who can’t or won’t jump through the hoops of health care bureaucracy, whether that’s appointments and referrals or even obtaining a photo ID. That strategy seems to be working. In San Francisco, half of the 300 patients initially prescribed buprenorphine during a pilot study are still in contact with the system. STAT's Lev Facher has the story here

A new look at drug use and health in the U.S. 

The share of people with substance use disorder receiving treatment for the condition is rising, according to new numbers from a federal survey on drug use and health in 2017. Here’s a look at the findings:

  • Nearly 55 percent of people with heroin-related opioid use disorder received treatment in 2017, up rom 38 percent in 2016. The number of people initiating heroin use also fell significantly.

  • An estimated 8.5 million adults have both substance use disorder and a co-occuring mental illness. Another 300,000 young people ages 12 to 17 had experienced both substance use disorder and a major depressive episode within the past year.

  • About 7 percent of pregnant women had used marijuana in the past month, with about 3 percent reporting daily use. 

Bob Evans is recalling breakfast sausages

Health officials are out with a bit of bad breakfast news: Bob Evans Farms is recalling nearly 47,000 pounds of pork sausage links because they might contain pieces of plastic. Food safety officials say there haven’t been any confirmed reports of injuries tied to the breakfast meats and that consumers should toss or return any of the products listed here. Meanwhile, the CDC and the FDA are still investigating a salmonella outbreak linked to Honey Smacks cereal that has sickened at least 130 people in 36 states. Kellogg recalled the cereal in mid-June.

What to read around the web today

  • When a sore throat becomes a death sentence. New York Times
  • Most home health aides offer vital care to the frail and aged. But some have other designs. Boston Globe
  • Turmoil erupts over expulsion of member from leading evidence-based medicine group. STAT
  • For CRISPR patents, the ugliest phase may be still to come. STAT Plus
  • As injuries continue, doctors renew call for ban on infant walkers. NPR

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,


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Monday, September 17, 2018


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