KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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One Ohio County Makes Anti-Overdose Drug Widely Available, While Another Rejects That Approach

Bloomberg profiles Hamilton County, Ohio, where officials think the best way to tackle the opioid epidemic is to get Narcan in as many hands as possible, and Butler County, where the sheriff refuses to allow officers to carry the medication. In today's other public health news: a $25,000 "life-extension test"; anti-smoking efforts; miscarriage risks from flu shot studied; and more.

Bloomberg: Welcome To The Narcan Capital Of America
In neighboring Hamilton County, which includes Cincinnati, officials are taking the opposite approach. They want to create the Narcan capital of America, putting more than 30,000 doses of the opioid-overdose reversal spray in the hands of Ohioans ready to use it. That’s about one for every 27 residents. In addition to police, firefighters, and medics who already carry the drug, Hamilton County plans to distribute Narcan to syringe exchanges, houses of worship—and maybe even employers. People discharged from hospitals or jails after opioid incidents should leave with “Narcan on the belt,” says Tim Ingram, Hamilton County’s health commissioner. (Tozzi and Hopkins, 9/14)

Bloomberg: This $25,000 Life-Extension Test Is Impressing Investors But Not Doctors
Craig Venter has got a deal for you. For $25,000, he’ll sell you a complete genome sequence, a full-body MRI scan, a cardio CT scan, bone densitometry, cognitive testing and more, all in the hope of discovering a lurking tumor or brain abnormality -- and nipping it in the bud. ... The problem is Venter’s promises are ringing hollow for a growing chorus of critics. Conversations with more than a dozen current and former employees, customers and medical professionals depict a company that may prove unable to keep up with its founder’s ambitions. Some doctors contend that such comprehensive testing isn’t particularly useful, and even those who do think so say rivals may outpace Venter. Competing government-backed efforts in the U.S. and the U.K., for instance, threaten to overtake HLI in the race to collect massive amounts of the population’s genetic and clinical data, a key proposition for the company’s business success. (Chen, 9/13)

Bloomberg: Philip Morris Pledges $1 Billion To Fight Smoking 
Philip Morris International Inc. said it will spend about $1 billion setting up a foundation to reduce the prevalence of smoking as the maker of Marlboro cigarettes aims to convert smokers into consumers of devices that don’t burn tobacco. Derek Yach, a former World Health Organization official who worked on a global tobacco treaty, will lead the group, according to a statement Wednesday. The cigarette maker said it plans to spend about $80 million annually over 12 years on the project, starting in 2018. (Pfanner and Mulier, 9/13)

Stat: Where Does The March For Science Go From Here?
The hundreds of thousands of people who rallied on the National Mall and in cities worldwide for the March for Science in April came to be noticed. It was a march meant to demonstrate enthusiasm and political clout, and by those measures, organizers believe they succeeded. But as two dozen of them met in New York the following month for a debrief, they faced an obvious reality: A grass-roots organization that was quickly formed to plan a singular event was not, at least immediately, equipped for far-reaching and long-term science advocacy. (Facher, 9/14)

Stat: Study Shows Miscarriage Risk May Have Increased After Flu Shots
Sometimes when scientists study things, they come up with results they didn’t expect, can’t explain, and may secretly wish they’d never sought. A new journal article looking at whether getting a flu shot during pregnancy increases a woman’s risk of miscarrying may be one such case. The article reports that at least in the 2010-11 and 2011-12 influenza seasons, pregnant women who were vaccinated against flu may have been at a higher risk of suffering a miscarriage — but only if they had also received a flu shot in the previous year as well. (Branswell, 9/13)

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