Latest Morning Briefing Stories
Media outlets report on news from Texas, California, Florida, Maryland, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
Prostate cancer is the No. 2 cause of cancer death in men. Removing the prostate can add 3 years to the life of a man who has a tumor that is lethal, the research says, but active surveillance might be a better option for less aggressive cancer and spares men the consequences of surgery. Other news on cancer focuses on obesity, co-existing conditions and the safety of robot-assisted surgeries.
A quest to find out if therapeutic clowns were really helping disabled children who could not respond to their antics leads to an exploration of those kids’ silent worlds. In other public health news: gene-editing, eczema and suicide, Zika, dirty air, tampons, salmonella, diabetes, and more.
Scientists and doctors have been flummoxed by the illness that has struck down a few dozen diplomats that were stationed in Cuba, but the evidence of damage to the inner ear may hold answers to help them move forward at figuring out the cause.
Researchers have found that on Christmas Eve the risk of a heart attack is 37 percent higher than normal. Although they didn’t draw conclusions on why the increase occurs, experts say the stress of the holidays combined with excessive drinking and eating could be the likely culprit.
“The starting point is very different for insulin,” said Andrew Mulcahy, a policy researcher. “Will more competitors help bring down prices further? Yes, but it’s starting off from a place where there is already some of that price competition.” Meanwhile, lawmakers in Minnesota, where some diabetics say they are rationing insulin, consider price controls due to the high costs.
Last month a report found that Kaleo had increased the price of Evzio by 600 percent from $575 per unit in July 2014 to $4,100 in January 2017. Lawmakers have criticized the increase that came in the middle of the opioid crisis.
Fentanyl is part of what the CDC calls the “third wave” of the opioid epidemic, following in the footsteps of oxycodone and heroin. In a recent analysis, researchers found that the rate of drug overdose deaths involving fentanyl doubled each year from 2013 to 2016.
The Trump administration back in September launched an audit over all government-funded fetal tissue research, citing “serious regulatory, moral, and ethical considerations.” The decision recently affected a lab that has played a key role in testing antiviral drugs to treat HIV infection, highlighting the far-reaching ramifications of the debate.
“You always want to take advantage of the moment, and I think we’re in the moment,” said Scott Whitaker, CEO of AdvaMed, a lobbying group for medical device companies. Meanwhile, Republican governors are joining the push to get Congress to delay the three taxes — medical device tax, health insurance tax, and tax on high-cost “Cadillac” health plans — as well.
Media outlets report on news from Florida, Texas, Massachusetts, Georgia, Ohio, Virginia, California, Tennessee and New York.
The plan for the 2019-21 budget comes after years of court orders and federal inspection findings that highlight the suffering and unlawful treatment of Washington’s mental-health patients at the hands of the state. Mental health news comes out of Illinois, Oregon, California, Massachusetts and Alabama.
Health experts hailed the announcement as an attempt to help reduce antibiotic resistance in humans, a public health issue that has lead McDonald’s and other fast food providers to eliminate the use of antibiotic-fed chickens. In other food safety news, Jimmy Dean sausage is recalled in 21 states.
The Allen Institute announced the new unit Wednesday, three months after Paul Allen died of septic shock stemming from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Other public health news focuses on Islam and organ donations; reactions to the CRIPR babies; vitamin treatments for sepsis; the continuing short supply of Shingrix; and the high costs of animal attacks.
The police have been investigating Dr. George Tyndall as part of what is believed to be the largest sex crimes investigation involving an individual in LAPD history. Hundreds of current and former USC students have made allegations against Tyndall’s behavior while performing medical examinations. In October, USC agreed to settle a federal class-action suit on behalf of Tyndall’s patients for $215 million.
One trend that’s emerged in the opioid epidemic is both the public and police departments releasing footage or photos of people who are experiencing some of the bleakest moments in their lives. The views on such videos can total in the millions, and some argue it’s beneficial, but for those in the videos it can change their lives forever–not necessarily for the better. Meanwhile, experts wonder if fentanyl could become a weapon of mass destruction to be used against the United States, and the maker of an anti-overdose drug overs a generic of a fraction of the price.
Hundreds of thousands of public opinions poured in about the policy during the open comment period, which closed Monday. The “public charge” rule would allow federal immigration officials to consider legal immigrants’ use of Medicaid, nutrition, housing and other programs as a strongly negative factor in their applications for legal permanent residency. Many health groups wrote in to say the policy would take both a financial and public health toll on vulnerable populations.
Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), the expected incoming House Ways and Means chairman, signaled his willingness to hold hearings on “Medicare for all,” a popular priority for many progressive lawmakers in the party. Elsewhere on Capitol Hill, health care costs are in the spotlight, as well as a bill aimed at reversing the country’s maternal mortality rates.
Part of the reason so many people are eligible for plans under which they would pay $0 in premiums is because President Donald Trump eliminated key health law payments last year. This had the unintended effect of increasing financial assistance to many Americans. Meanwhile, although the enrollment numbers have been dragging this year, the federal health law site did experience a surge after former President Barack Obama encouraged people to sign up.
Researchers have found that loneliness takes a physical toll, and is as closely linked to early mortality as smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day or consuming more than six alcoholic drinks a day. Loneliness is even worse for longevity than being obese or physically inactive. In other aging news: exercise, strengthening your brain, and poverty.