Latest Morning Briefing Stories

Former FDA Chief Urges Agency To Loosen Restrictions On Drugs To End Early Pregnancy

KHN Morning Briefing

Former FDA Commissioner Dr. Jane Henney says Mifepristone is still heavily regulated despite having been proven safe and effective. “I think the FDA has shown a willingness to … take action,” Henney said. “I believe it’s important for them to do another review in light of the safety information we know about this drug.” In other news, clinics react to the Planned Parenthood’s decision to forgo Title X funds and ousted Planned Parenthood head Leana Wen announces her new job.

FDA Officials: Stakes Were Too High In Novartis Data Manipulation Case To Do Anything But Publicly Drop The Hammer

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The FDA came down hard on Novartis, subjecting the company to a public flogging over the data manipulation that, at the end of the day, didn’t effect patients’ safety. But the issue is too important to give anyone a pass, officials say. “It may sound like we’re kind of bureaucratic paper-pushers, but it’s more than that,” said FDA’s Dr. Peter Marks. “It’s making sure that the whole ecosystem understands that when people are working on these things that are highly technically complex, that they have to work truthfully and accurately.”

VA Pathologist Charged With Deaths Of Three Veterans, Scheme To Cover Up Years Of Drug Use On The Job

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Robert Morris Levy was indicted on three counts of involuntary manslaughter and 28 counts of mail fraud, wire fraud and false statements to law enforcement officials. Department of Veterans Affairs officials said in January that outside pathologists reviewed nearly 34,000 cases handled by Levy and found more than 3,000 errors or missed diagnoses dating back to 2005.

Critics Say Decades-Old Flores Agreement Is Cause Of Chaos On Border. Others Argue It’s The Only Thing Protecting Detained Youth.

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Both the Trump and Obama administrations have railed against the tight restrictions put in place by the Flores agreement, which dictates the way immigrant children are treated when they are held in custody. As early as Wednesday, DHS could release new regulations that replace those protections. The New York Times takes a look at this history, the impact and the frustrations that have come from the agreement. In other news on immigration: more states sue over “public charge” rule, officials say detainees won’t be vaccinated for the upcoming flu season, and the government eyes a California location for a new shelter.

Despite Internal Strife, NRA’s Clout Still Evident After One Phone Call Convinces Trump To Sideline Background Checks

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President Donald Trump spoke with NRA chief Wayne LaPierre about the possibility of universal background checks. At the end of the call, the president reassured LaPierre that those were off the table. Meanwhile, following Trump’s claims that mental illness was at the root of the recent mass shootings, federal officials made sure no government experts might contradict him. Agency staffers were warned not to post anything on social media related to mental health, violence and mass shootings without prior approval. Other news on gun violence and safety focuses on young voters and Facebook sellers.

Long-Sought Safety Changes In Car Seats For Side Impact Crashes Hit Multiple Road Bumps. Federal Agency, Industry Can’t Agree On New Rules.

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While car crashes are a leading killer of children, seats have only been tested for head-on crashes. Since the early 2000s, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has pushed for new seats that also protect children from side-impact crashes as well. ProPublica reports on what’s taking so long and how the industry is dragging its heals. Public health news looks at dementia, measles, vaccines, diets and telemedicine, as well.

Racketeering Lawsuit Alleges Juul, Philip Morris Adopted Big Tobacco’s Catchy Ad Campaigns Geared Toward Kids

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A 19-year-old is suing the two companies using the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, claiming that “the defendants prey on youth for financial gain.” The suit is just the latest litigation over the e-cigarette maker’s marketing tactics. In other news: the prevalence of e-cigarettes in classrooms, legal smoking ages, and lung disease possibly linked to vaping.

Smaller Players In Sweeping Opioid Case Against Drugmakers Closing In On Potential Settlements

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Drugmakers Endo International and Allergan are both in talks to settle over allegations about the role they played in the opioid crisis. The two companies have drawn less attention than bigger players like Purdue Pharma. The nationwide, consolidated lawsuit that will be heard in Ohio is being closely watched and likened to the Big Tobacco reckoning of the 1990s. Other opioid news focuses on supervised injection facilities, the effect of the drugs on the country’s life expectancy, and more.

Trump’s Rhetoric Over Tougher Background Checks Softens After Meeting With NRA And Gun Rights Advocates

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In the immediate aftermath of dual mass shootings earlier in the month in Texas and Ohio, President Donald Trump spoke about moving forward on tougher background checks, a strategy that conservatives have shied away from in the past. Now, after talks with gun rights advocates, Trump appears to be reverting back to his previous talking points, saying that he is “very, very concerned with the Second Amendment, more so than most presidents would be,” and adding that “people don’t realize we have very strong background checks right now.”

Planned Parenthood Rejects Family Planning Funds Rather Than Comply With What It Deems A Gag Rule

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A new Trump administration rule for Title X funding forbids referrals to doctors who can perform abortions. Planned Parenthood has called the change both a targeted attack on its organization and a gag rule that would hurt its patients. Currently, Planned Parenthood receives about $60 million annually through the federal program. “Our patients deserve to make their own health care decisions, not to be forced to have Donald Trump or Mike Pence make those decisions for them,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, Planned Parenthood’s acting president and CEO. Media outlets look at how the decision will effect local facilities, as well.

High Lead Levels In Water Has Plagued Newark Neighborhood For Years

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The contamination of water in Newark’s West Ward shows how the lead epidemic predominately affects the city’s low-income, minority residents. “To think we could be like Flint, and we’re such a big city, it’s terrifying,” said resident Rasheeda Scott. Environmental health news comes out of New Hampshire, South Carolina and Georgia, as well.

As ‘Red Flag’ Legislation Grows In Popularity, Study Adds Weight To Theory That The Laws Prevent Mass Shootings

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In a study looking into California’s “red flag” law, researchers found 21 cases that involved someone who had or soon would have had access to firearms and “made a clear declaration of intent to commit a mass shooting” or exhibited behavior suggesting such an intent. While the scientists couldn’t say whether the shootings would have actually played out without the laws, the study adds heft to a growing push for the strategy.