The Friday Roundup is a collection of five stories that you need to know about each week. From policy, to innovations, look to us to keep you up to date on what’s happening in the healthcare industry.
State of Emergency Proposed for Opioid Epidemic
The recommendation comes in an interim report from the White House’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis released this past Monday. Health professionals have greeted the recommendation with a mixed response.
Some feel this is the right move because it would allow the Health and Human Services Secretary to take direct action like negotiating lower prices for naloxone. Others fear that the rhetoric used would bring similar consequences to the “war on drugs” years, in which those with addiction were heavily criminalized for their drug use.
One criticism came from Dr. Corey Waller, Senior Medical Director of Education and Policy for the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers, who pointed out that even if a state of emergency is declared and funds become available there is not a sufficient workforce to handle the crisis.
Will Health Disparities Leak into the Genome?
Socioeconomic factors have been shown to have a large impact on one’s health, and with the wave of genetic editing research occurring, some worry limited access to technology will make genetic diseases a characteristic of marginalized communities.
“Restricting access to prenatal testing threatens to turn existing inequalities in our society into something biological and permanent,” genetic counselor and Sarah Lawrence professor Laura Hercher said.
Current prenatal screening tests for genetic disease cost upwards of $2,000, an unaffordable expense for many. In an article in Genome, Hercher refers to the financial and other limitations as contributions to the “ghettoization of genetic disease.”
NFL and NIH Don’t Play Well Together
The National Football League and the National Institute of Health have ceased their partnership for brain research. The parting will leave $16M of the $30M the NFL had pledged unspent.
The news broke three days after the New York Times published an extensive article about a recent study in which 110 of 111 brains of past NFL players were found to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative disease caused by repeated blows to the head. Companies like VICIS have made great strides in CTE prevention, but they cannot change what has happened to football players in the past.
The NIH decided to let the contract expire in August. In the past, the league has been accused of trying to influence research by awarding it to doctors with connections to the league. At this time, it is unclear if the NFL will donate the remaining money pledged to the NIH through their fundraising arm or cease conversation with the NIH altogether.
Senate Seeks to Influence Healthcare Elsewhere
With the lack of progress made on repealing, replacing, or improving the ACA, two senators (Doris Matsui, D-California, and Bill Johnson, R-Ohio) have drafted a bill to expand telemedicine.
Several states already have laws relating to telemedicine on the books and the proposed legislation would allow the Health and Human Services secretary to oust Medicare restrictions if the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services conclude it reduces cost.
Superbugs are Afraid of Needles Too
Reducing the need for antibiotics is the name of the game when it comes to preventing antibiotic resistance, and more widespread vaccination against infections will do just that.
Vaccinations play a preventative role by keeping infections from occurring, but that’s not the only way they limit unnecessary antibiotic use. Vaccinating against viral infections is also important as antibiotics do not treat viruses, and protection from viral infections reduces the occurrence of secondary bacterial infections that can follow viruses and would require antibiotics.
Coupled with the benefits of “herd immunity,” a phrase that refers to when a large enough portion of the population is vaccinated that unvaccinated persons are not at risk, this appears to be an optimal way to fight antibiotic resistance.
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