KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Viewpoints: Problems With Drug Labeling Rules; Fixing Genes; Mental Illness And Punishment

A selection of opinions on health care from around the country.

Morning Consult: Reform Prescription Drug Labeling To Benefit Patients And Their Doctors
These rules keep doctors from learning factual data about how medicines should be used, deprive insurance companies of understanding the value of new drugs, and make it harder to link drugs’ prescribed usage with recommended practice guidelines from medical experts. More importantly, the current system can keep patient’s experiences with using the drug from being included in the FDA-blessed package inserts. Why is this important? Because in an era of instantaneously available information about how and when to use everything from cars to drones, we can do better in talking about medicines. Yes, drugs are different, but not that different. (David Beier, 6/16)

The New York Times: The Upside Of Bad Genes
There’s a well-to-do couple thinking about having children. They order a battery of genetic tests to ensure that there’s nothing untoward lurking in their genomes. And they discover that they each carry one copy of the sickle cell gene. If their children inherit two copies of the gene, they could develop anemia, which can cause joint pain, weakness and even death. So what should the couple do? For the last two decades, they’ve had the option of artificially fertilizing embryos and selecting only those that lack the sickle cell trait. Now a new possibility is on the horizon: They may soon be able to edit the offending gene right out of their own sperm, eggs or embryos, erasing it from their bloodline forever. (Moises Velasquez-Manoff, 6/17)

The Washington Post: Executing A Severely Mentally Ill Man Would Be An Injustice
William Morva killed two people. This tragic reality is not disputed. But though Morva’s guilt is not in doubt, there is good reason to question Virginia’s plans to execute him. We now know what his sentencing jury didn’t know: Morva suffers from a serious mental illness. Justice cannot be served by executing him. (Nicholas Cote, 6/16)

San Antonio Press-Express: Addict Baby Statistics Disturbing 
The number of cases of neonatal abstinence syndrome — the problems experienced by babies born to addicted women — increased 75 percent in Texas between 2010 and 2015, state health records show. A closer examination of statistics indicates Bexar County has the dubious distinction of having 25 percent of the NAS cases in the state. (6/17)

Arizona Republic: Opioid Addiction Is Serious, But We're Fighting It With 3 Big Things
Seven-hundred and ninety. That’s how many people died from opioid overdoses in 2016. Not nationwide — that’s just in Arizona. ... Earlier this month, I declared a public health emergency in the state to address this epidemic. The issue is not unique to Arizona — all states are facing it. But in our state, we are taking serious and strategic action to save lives. A few days before I issued this declaration, the Arizona Department of Health Services released an alarming report. It concluded that an average of more than two Arizonans died every day as the result of an opioid overdose, a startling 74 percent increase in just four years. That is unacceptable. (Gov. Doug Ducey, 6/16)

WBUR: Let Mass. Be The First State To Tax Sugary Drinks 
Right now, Massachusetts has the opportunity to become the first state in the nation to pass a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages — sodas, “sports” drinks, fruit drinks and other drinks with added sugar — and get a two-fer: funds to help our struggling budget and a huge boon to public health. It’s estimated that in year one, over $350 million could be raised by the tax, funds that could be used to fix water fountains in schools, refurbish playgrounds and create the infrastructure every community needs to live healthy lives. (Louisa Kasdon and David Martin, 6/19)

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