KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Mass. Republicans Want Top State Health Official To Resign

The state's Republicans are challenging the handling of the recent meningitis outbreak and drug test tampering allegations.

WBUR: Mass. GOP Lawmakers Call For Health Secretary's Resignation
Republicans in the Massachusetts House are calling for the departure of JudyAnn Bigby, the state's health and human services secretary. In a letter sent on Thursday to Gov. Deval Patrick, House Republicans cited "poor management" in the aftermath of two recent crises: The alleged tampering with drug tests at a former Department of Public Health lab, and a deadly outbreak of fungal meningitis linked to a Framingham compounding pharmacy that was regulated by the state. Minority Leader Brad Jones said at a news conference on Thursday that the agency "desperately" needs new leadership (11/29).

The Boston Globe: State House Republicans Call For Ouster Of Patrick's HHS Chief In Wake Of State Drug Lab Crisis
Though Republicans hold scant power on Beacon Hill, their call to replace Bigby is a reminder that the allegedly tainted samples of thousands of drug samples remains a significant political liability for Patrick, a Democrat. Patrick and other officials have blamed the problems on former state chemist Annie Dookhan, whom they have called a rogue employee at the former Department of Public Health lab where workers once tested contraband seized during drug investigations. But defense attorneys, the Massachusetts Bar Association, and the Committee for Public Counsel Services have insisted the problems were not limited to Dookhan (Bierman, 11/29).

A different group is asking the FDA to expand its probe of compounding pharmacies --

CQ HealthBeat: Public Citizen Asks FDA For Wider Compounding Probe
The advocacy group Public Citizen on Thursday called on the Food and Drug Administration to go back to the more than 16 pharmacy compounding companies it has warned about unsafe practices in the past decade and see if the problems at those facilities have been corrected. The group's 11-page letter comes as the FDA is preparing to hold a public meeting Dec. 19 to hear from state and federal representatives about the best way to oversee compounding agencies in the future  (Bunis, 11/29).

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.