Opinion writers weigh in on these health topics and others.
Bloomberg: Prescription Drugs Aren’t To Blame For Rise In Addiction Deaths
Patients in pain have become collateral damage in the war on opioids. That’s the message of a letter from more than 300 medical professionals, including three former White House drug czars, to the Centers for Disease Control. In 2016, the CDC issued guidelines to discourage doctors from overprescribing opioids. The signatories believe that those guidelines are being misapplied in a way that keeps many patients in agony. (Ramesh Ponnuru, 3/21)
The Hill: Proposed FDA E-Cigarette Ban Disproportionately Impacts Veterans And Service Members
In the politically-charged climate of 2019, there are very few things that our society can universally agree on. Some of the few things we can agree on, however, is that smoking cigarettes is bad for one’s health, and that even when we don’t support a war, we will support the troops. Therefore, it should logically follow that anything that aids active duty service members and military veterans to quit smoking in order to live longer, happier lives, should be encouraged. Unfortunately, this is where our politically charged climate returns. Despite scientific evidence that the use of electronic cigarettes, commonly known as “vaping,” are “significantly more effective than nicotine replacement treatments” such as patches, gum or other forms of oral nicotine in getting people to quit smoking, the FDA recently proposed a rule prohibiting the sale of e-cigarettes to places where children under the age of 18 can enter. (Rory E. Riley-Topping, 3/21)
The New York Times: Why Should Americans Be Grateful For $ 137 Insulin? Germans Get It For $ 55
This month, Eli Lilly and Company announced with some fanfare that it was manufacturing a generic version of its own best-selling insulin brand, Humalog, which it would sell for half off — $ 137.35 versus about $ 275. David Ricks, the chief executive of Lilly, said the company was making this seemingly beneficent gesture because “many patients are struggling to afford their insulin.” But they’re struggling, in large part, because since 2001 Lilly has raised the price of a vial of Humalog to about $ 275, from $ 35. Other insulin makers have raised prices similarly. (Elisabeth Rosenthal, 3/21)
Bloomberg: Justice Roberts Controls Future Of Gun Control
New Zealand banned semi-automatic rifles this week, and made the ban effective immediately to prevent “stockpiling of weapons while the legislation is being drafted.” The Kiwis are apparently not big on the “hopes and prayers” mantra that the U.S. Congress adopts after each gun massacre. (Francis Wilkinson, 3/21)
The Hill: Housing And Health Care Go Hand-In-Hand
Over the past two presidential administrations, political fury has swirled around the nation’s health-care system. Health care is almost always at the top of the list of America’s domestic policy concerns. As well, it should be. But without addressing the nation’s growing housing crisis, an efficient and humane health system will stay out of reach. Health-care delivery systems recognize this. In a few cases, large hospitals, health plans and even insurance companies now are putting resources into housing for patients. It is time for public policy makers to recognize the absurdity of ignoring the most critical social determinant for good health outcomes: safe housing. (Robert M. Hayes, 3/21)
WBUR: I’m A Doctor Who Sent 2,000 Texts To My Patients Last Year. Here’s Why
I’ve been sharing my cellphone number since I started my practice in 2009. Most of my paid clinical time is spent rushing through 15-minute visits and slogging through electronic paperwork. With texting, the rush disappears. Patients can text me when they want and there are no boxes to tick. (Clement Bottino, 3/22)
The Washington Post: Elizabeth Holmes’s Voice And Theranos: Solving The Mystery
Technically, the voice is a baritone. Some say it’s definitely fake — another part of the same old scam. Others say there’s no way of knowing. But the impossibility of an answer rarely stops the truly curious from trying to find one. And Elizabeth Holmes’s voice has become an obsession.No one has been able to crack Holmes so far. Not in a book, not in a podcast and not in two documentaries, the second of which came out this week. The accused Silicon Valley con woman, who lost investors hundreds of millions of dollars as she allegedly propelled a colossal lie to a $ 9 billion valuation, is a riddle wrapped in a blank-faced, unblinking enigma. Those who want to understand the woman have to start somewhere, and why not her most distinctive feature? (Molly Robert, 3/21)
Bloomberg: Roundup Cancer Lawsuits Must Be Decided By Courts, Not Science
Scientists can’t, for the most part, prove that a given product caused a particular person to get cancer — not the way you can prove, say, that a car with faulty brakes caused a fatal crash. And so when a federal jury in San Francisco District Court decided that the weed killer Roundup was a “substantial factor” in causing someone to get a type of cancer called non-Hodgkins lymphoma, they didn’t actually have proof for the individual case. What they had was evidence that the product was a probable factor in the man’s cancer, based on studies that follow large populations.Of course science should be the deciding factor in such cases, but there’s no sense in implying that scientists can do the impossible. What scientists and society at large have come to agree upon is that it’s reasonable to award people compensation if it’s more likely than not that they would have avoided the cancer if they’d been able to avoid the product in question. (Faye Flam, 3/21)
Stat: Canada’s Legalization Of Marijuana Offers A Blueprint For The U.S.
When Canada legalized cannabis last fall, the country began blazing a trail that the U.S. should one day follow. There’s much to emulate about the Canadian government’s approach to legalization, and a few things to avoid, but having marijuana legalized on such a large scale so close to home will no doubt have a profound effect on America’s future treatment of the issue. Medical or recreational marijuana is now legal in 33 U.S. states, even though its possession or use is illegal under federal law. (Lyle Hauser, 3/22)
Bloomberg: Biogen Alzheimer’s Drug Flop Clouds Its Future
A train wreck that everyone sees coming still hurts. Biogen Inc. announced Thursday that it was discontinuing late-stage studies of its Alzheimer’s medicine aducanumab. That shouldn’t be a huge surprise: Every other drug attempting to treat Alzheimer’s the same way — by targeting the buildup of amyloid beta plaques in the brain — has failed. (Max Nisen, 3/21)
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.