KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

FDA Cancer Expert’s First-Hand Experience Fuels Drug Approval Process

The New York Times profiles how the experience of one regulator may have altered the speed of patients' access to experimental treatments. Meanwhile, this roundup of public health stories also includes a look at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's debate surrounding risks of cellphones; a look at how gene editing may lead to a treatment for Duchenne muscular distrophy; and recent developments regarding HIV education and how a lack of sleep may contribute to Alzheimer's.

The New York Times: F.D.A. Regulator, Widowed by Cancer, Helps Speed Drug Approval
Mary Pazdur had exhausted the usual drugs for ovarian cancer, and with her tumors growing and her condition deteriorating, her last hope seemed to be an experimental compound that had yet to be approved by federal regulators. So she appealed to the Food and Drug Administration, whose oncology chief for the last 16 years, Dr. Richard Pazdur, has been a man denounced by many cancer patient advocates as a slow, obstructionist bureaucrat. He was also Mary’s husband. (Harris, 1/2)

The New York Times: At C.D.C., A Debate Behind Recommendations On Cellphone Risk
Mainstream scientific consensus holds that there is little to no evidence that cellphone signals raise the risk of brain cancer or other health problems; rather, behaviors like texting while driving are seen as the real health concerns. Nevertheless, more than 500 pages of internal records obtained by The New York Times, along with interviews with former agency officials, reveal a debate and some disagreement among scientists and health agencies about what guidance to give as the use of mobile devices skyrockets. (Hakim, 1/1)

The New York Times: H.I.V. Education That Aims To Empower, Not Shame
Thanks to medical advances, a diagnosis of H.I.V., while still very serious, is no longer the death sentence it once was. For organizations trying to communicate information about testing and prevention, though, the devastation the virus has caused over the decades remains ever-present. Traditional public service announcements tend to rely on shock and shame, with mixed success. But when Arizona public health officials began contemplating a new campaign, they wanted to change that. (White, 12/27)

NPR: Lack Of Deep Sleep May Set The Stage For Alzheimer's
There's growing evidence that a lack of sleep can leave the brain vulnerable to Alzheimer's disease. The brain appears to clear out toxins linked to Alzheimer's during sleep. And, at least among research animals that don't get enough solid shut-eye, those toxins can build up and damage the brain. (Hamilton, 1/4)

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