The FDA goes after nicotine

The FDA this week launched a crackdown on smoking and vaping, ordering the withdrawal of the Juul vaping device from the market and announcing its intention to require manufacturers of cigarettes and other tobacco products to reduce the amount of nicotine they contain. .

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has not announced a ruling in a high-risk abortion case, but has said private health insurers could limit the amount of kidney dialysis care they provide, thereby forcing some patients to Medicare.

This week’s speakers are Julie Rovner of KHN, Joanne Kenen of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Politico, and Rachel Cohrs of Stat.

Among the takeaways of this week’s episode:

  • The FDA ordered Juul to remove its e-cigarettes from the US market because the company’s application to the agency did not provide enough information to regulators to determine whether Juul posed a danger to users. The FDA said there were concerns about the risk of some harmful chemicals leaching from the Juul pods. Juul is expected to appeal the FDA’s decision to the courts.
  • Juul helped spark an explosion in e-cigarette use when it hit the market, and officials initially thought it would help smokers trying to break free of the cigarette habit. But the industry’s use of flavored tobacco and aggressive marketing have helped fuel a dramatic increase in use among teenagers and led to regulatory crackdowns.
  • The Supreme Court this week ruled that employers can choose to exclude all dialysis treatments from the network in their workers’ health plans, a decision that would likely prompt many patients to seek Medicare coverage for their kidney problems. The decision was a disappointment for dialysis providers, who receive fewer reimbursements from Medicare than they typically get from private insurance plans.
  • The decision leaves many details unsolved and more legal struggles may be on the way. Dialysis providers could also turn to Congress to establish laws that would prohibit employers from such moves.
  • It is likely that the Senate will consider a bill proposed by Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Jeanne Shaheen (DN.H.) who aims to lower the cost of insulin. The bill is considered more favorable to drug manufacturers than another measure passed in the House this year. The Senate bill aims to persuade drug makers to offer insulin at the price they received from Medicare in 2021, allowing them to bypass discounts and other expensive subsidies paid to pharmacy benefits managers and insurance plans. It would also limit direct costs for insured consumers to $ 35.
  • As the Senate approaches a vote on gun safety legislation, other efforts are underway to find more funding for programs to help address mental health problems. These efforts could help with campaigns to reduce suicides and domestic violence, which are often also gun-related.
  • The House is initiating efforts to pass draft appropriations laws and the initial funding measure for the Department of Health and Human Services once again does not include the so-called Hyde Amendment, a long-standing policy named after the deceased. Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) Prohibiting the use of federal funds for most abortions. Previous attempts by the House to eliminate the Hyde amendment did not authorize the Senate.
  • President Joe Biden has appointed Arati Prabhakar, former head of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), to head the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy. He allegedly replaced Eric Lander, who was forced to resign after reports of staff harassment.
  • Prabhakar appears to be a non-controversial choice and offers a good management experience. His responsibilities will likely include overseeing pandemic planning, efforts to shape a new biomedical research agency called ARPA-H, and strategies to improve cancer prevention.

Also this week, Rovner interviews Noam N. Levey of KHN about the new KHN-NPR project on medical debt, called “Diagnosis: Debt”.

Plus, for extra credit, the speakers recommend their favorite health policy stories of the week that they think you should read too:

Julie Rovner: “At Westminster Dog Show, a new focus on veterinary welfare” by AP, by Jennifer Peltz

Giovanna Kenen: “Back Forty: How to Protect Farm Workers From Heat-Related Kidney Disease” by, by Nancy Averett

Rachel Cohrs: “Facebook receives sensitive medical information from hospital websites” by Todd Feathers, Simon Fondrie-Teitler, Angie Waller and Surya Mattu markup

This article was reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorial independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-partisan health policy research organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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