Viewpoints: PASTEUR Act Essential In Fight Against Superbugs; Downside Of Aduhelm’s Accelerated Approval
Editorial writers delve into these various public health issues.
To Win The Fight Against Superbugs, It’s Time To Netflix And Pill
With the introduction of multiple highly effective vaccines against COVID-19, we have begun to round a corner on the current pandemic. But another crisis looms — and this one could claim more lives worldwide and change medicine as we know it. Bacteria and fungi are mutating to resist our current antibiotics: This has always been a fact of evolution. However, in the century since antibiotics were first discovered, widespread use of these drugs in humans and animals has accelerated the natural evolutionary process. Soon, the world may have no effective antibiotics left to fight certain infections. Already, strains of totally drug-resistant tuberculosis and gonorrhea have been isolated from patients. The continued emergence and spread of such strains could result in a deadly pandemic of drug-resistant superbugs, which could kill millions of people a year by 2050, according to one economic analysis. (Francesca Tomasi, Kevin Ma, and Megan McCurry, 7/8)
The Washington Post:
Why We May Never Know Whether The $56,000 Alzheimer’s Drug Actually Works
The Food and Drug Administration’s approval in June of a drug purporting to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease was widely celebrated, but it also touched off alarms. There were worries in the scientific community about the drug’s mixed results in studies — the FDA’s own expert advisory panel was nearly unanimous in opposing its approval. And the annual $56,000 price tag of the infusion drug, Aduhelm, was decried for potentially adding costs in the tens of billions of dollars to Medicare and Medicaid programs. But lost in this discussion is the underlying problem with using the FDA’s “accelerated” pathway to approve drugs for conditions such as Alzheimer’s, a slow, degenerative disease. Though patients will start taking it, if the past is any guide, the world may have to wait many years to find out whether Aduhelm is actually effective — and may never know for sure. (Elisabeth Rosenthal, 7/7)
San Diego Union-Tribune:
Taxing Soda And Other Sugary Drinks Can Boost Community Health. California Should Allow It.
In 2018, the California Legislature imposed a statewide ban on local soda taxes, preventing local governments from taxing sugary drinks until 2031. At the time, the editorial boards of the Los Angeles Times and The Sacramento Bee described the deal as “extortion” by the soda industry. The maneuver put corporations over communities, and Assembly Bill 1163 sought to restore local control — until it was held at the committee level in April. The bill’s author, Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian, D-North Hollywood, described the legislative process as the soda industry “gaming the political system.” Public health groups are encouraging the state’s largely progressive Legislature to stand up to Big Soda and revive the measure by any means necessary. (Melissa Campos, 7/7)
Pinterest Bans Weight Loss Ads. That Won't End Anti-Fat Messaging, But It's A Good Start.
Thanks to the onslaught of terrible news last week — from Bill Cosby’s sudden release from prison to the ocean being on fire, again — you may have missed the smallest glimmer of good news in the fight against anti-fatness and diet culture. I know I almost did. Turns out, Pinterest has moved to ban weight loss ads from its platform, and Norway passed a law requiring labels on retouched photos posted to social media. Are these relatively small moves in a world saturated with anti-fat messages? Sure. But is it possible this means some corners of society are finally recognizing the real harm that diet culture and unrealistic beauty standards perpetuate? Absolutely. (Kate Bernyk, 7/7)
It's Past Time To Give Uterine Fibroids The Attention They Deserve
In 2007, the late Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Ohio) wrote an op-ed calling for passage of her bill to increase research funding and public education for uterine fibroids. She stressed the need for “new and better ways to treat or even cure uterine fibroids.” Fourteen years later, her bill still has not passed and this extremely common gynecological condition remains an overlooked and underfunded public health issue. Fibroids are non-cancerous tumors that grow in the wall of the uterus. Most American women will develop them at some point in their lives. An estimated 26 million Americans have fibroids, and of those, about 15 million suffer from debilitating symptoms, including heavy menstrual bleeding, intense pelvic pressure or pain, bladder problems, and fertility issues. (Tanika Gray Valbrun, 7/8)
Merger May Improve Cancer Care For Minorities. Why Is FTC Blocking It?
America has been waging a war on cancer since President Richard Nixon signed the National Cancer Act in 1971, and to his credit President Joe Biden has set a goal of ending cancer during his tenure. He has also pledged to make racial equity a core policy value. However, recent action by the Federal Trade Commission runs counter to both goals. The FTC is working to block the merger of biotech companies Illumina and Grail, which lead the way in the early detection of cancer using blood samples and the technology needed to process the tests. Blocking the merger is a mistake that will harm future cancer patients, particularly those in minority communities. (Ja'Ron Smith, 7/6)
Dallas Morning News:
UT Southwestern Will Run Dallas’ Desperately Needed Public Psychiatric Hospital
In May, Texas lawmakers continued to invest in mental health by allocating nearly $400 million to the state psychiatric hospital system, including $45 million to plan and acquire land for a hospital in North Texas. This was welcome news in Dallas, which lacks its own state psychiatric hospital despite being the third largest city in Texas. For years, the state has indicated that it wanted to partner with UT Southwestern Medical Center to plan hospital construction. But our region is getting an even better deal. UTSW President Dr. Daniel Podolsky told us the prestigious academic medical center will actually operate the 200-bed, state-owned hospital, with state and UTSW officials looking at potential sites in and near Dallas’ medical district. (7/7)