From Washington, DC,
- Both the Senate and the House of Representatives will be in session for Committee business and floor voting this week.
From the public health front,
- The New York Times reports
- “A steady uptick in [COVID-19] cases since July and reports of worrisome new variants have fueled concern that the virus is poised to make a comeback this fall and winter. But in interviews, experts offered reassurances that the country will not see a return to the nightmarish scenarios of previous years.
- “There is no evidence that any of the variants in circulation cause more severe disease or evade immunity adroitly enough to render vaccines ineffective. And although hospitalizations and deaths are increasing week by week, the numbers remain low, noted Gigi Gronvall, a biosecurity expert at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.
- “These increases are more alarming by statistics than in reality,” Dr. Gronvall said.”
- Roll Call tells us
- “During the same week that naloxone — a nasal spray that reverses opioid overdoses — became available for purchase without a prescription, the nation’s top substance use officials called for greater availability and training for the drug, with five federal officials receiving training to administer it during a public demonstration at Health and Human Services headquarters Friday.
- * * * “While the Food and Drug Administration initially approved naloxone in 1971 as an injectable drug used in medical settings, it wasn’t until 2015 that the FDA approved a nasal spray version for prescription use. But the agency only approved the first over-the-counter versions of the drug this year. It became available without prescription this week, with Emergent BioSolutions’ 4 mg nasal spray selling for $44.99 for a two-dose product. Harm Reduction Therapeutics’s RiVive, is expected to become available in eBloomarly 2024.
- “The price point has been a concern for some advocates who worry it could limit accessibility and use. In an interview, Rahul Gupta, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, said the administration is working to bring the price point down as part of a larger effort to reduce healthcare costs.
- “We’re constantly working with manufacturers because we’ve got to make this accessible and affordable. So we’re on this, and we’re exploring every pathway working with HHS and our other government partners as well,” he said.
- Bloomberg offers a fascinating article about Lyme Disease. This tick-borne disease first made its appearance in the 1990s. An effective vaccine was made available in 1998, but the ultimately discredited “vaccines cause autism” campaign killed the vaccine in its cradle. Pfizer is now developing a new Lyme Disease vaccine, which is expected to receive FDA approval in 2026.
- NPR Shots offers a comic strip explaining how to take care of your ears.
From the U.S. healthcare business front,
- The Washington Post reports
- “Kroger, one of the nation’s largest supermarket chains, has agreed to pay more than $1 billion to settle lawsuits alleging it failed to monitor suspicious orders of addictive pain pills that fueled the nation’s opioid crisis.
- “The company announced Friday it will pay up to $1.2 billion to states and local governments, and $36 million to Native American tribes over 11 years.
- “The money adds to more than $50 billion in settlements obtained by state and local governments suing opioid-industry players alleged to have flooded the nation with addictive pills, despite red flags that they were being diverted to the black market.
- “Governments aim to use the money to ease the opioid crisis and save lives. Among the ways: paying for drugs to reverse overdoses, bolstering addiction treatment services and creating education campaigns.”
- KFF Health News is tracking the distribution of these opioid-related class action settlements across the fifty states and DC.