KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

Global Cost Of Smoking Totals $1 Trillion And 6 Million Lives Each Year, WHO Report Finds

And other public health stories cover affordable DNA sequencing, women's continued need for folic acid supplements during childbearing years, heartburn drug use during pregnancy and speeding up cancer clinical trials.

The Washington Post: Smoking Costs The World Economy $1 Trillion Per Year, World Health Organization Says
Smoking and its side effects cost the world's economies more than $1 trillion and kill about 6 million people each year — with deaths expected to rise by more than a third by 2030, according to a new report from the World Health Organization and the National Cancer Institute. Those losses exceed annual global revenue from tobacco taxes, estimated to be $269 billion in 2013-14, according to the report released Tuesday. Of that, less than $1 billion was invested in tobacco control. (Wang, 1/10)

Stat: Sequencing A Genome For Less Than The Cost Of An X-Ray? Not Quite Yet
When Illumina announced on Monday that it will begin shipping its two newest DNA sequencing machines as soon as March, president and CEO Francis deSouza said the technology “will enable the $100 genome.” That raised some questions: $100—really? A $100 genome will cost $100 in the same way that the $1,000 genome costs $1,000. As in, it won’t, at least not soon. (Begley, 1/11)

NPR: Women Still Need Folic Acid Supplements To Prevent Birth Defects
If you can get pregnant, you should be popping at least one pill a day: a folic acid supplement to lower the risk of a type of serious birth defect in any future offspring. So says the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which Tuesday reiterated its 2009 recommendation that all women who can conceive take 400 to 800 micrograms daily of the B vitamin in case their diet isn't providing enough of it. (Hobson, 1/10)

The New York Times: Heartburn Drugs In Pregnancy Tied To Asthma In Babies
Taking heartburn medicines during pregnancy may increase the risk for asthma in the baby, a review of studies has found. The analysis, in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, combined data from eight studies that included more than 1.6 million patients. Follow-up ranged from five to 14 years. (Bakalar, 1/10)

The Washington Post: National Cancer Institute And Drug Companies Aim To Speed Up Clinical Trials
The National Cancer Institute launched an effort Wednesday to speed up clinical trials by getting researchers quicker access to the drugs they want to test. The NCI initiative creates a virtual “formulary” — a kind of clearinghouse — that initially will include 15 different medications donated by six manufacturers. The formulary will allow the institute to act as an intermediary between the drug companies and scientists at 69 NCI-designated cancer centers and to streamline the process by which researchers get the therapies. (McGinley, 1/11)

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