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Health Care — Democrats want FDA to ease access to abortion pills

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Health Care — Democrats want FDA to ease access to abortion pills

Maybe the time has come for a Ticketmaster reckoning? Parent company Live Nation Entertainment is said to be facing a DOJ inquiry — one that predates the Taylor Swift debacle.

Welcome to Overnight Health Care, where we’re following the latest moves on policy and news affecting your health. For The Hill, we’re Nathaniel Weixel and Joseph Choi. Sign up in the box below or subscribe online here.

Senate Dems urge FDA to ease abortion pill access

A group of Senate Democrats are calling on the Biden administration to make it easier for patients to have access to medication abortion in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. 

The lawmakers, led by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), want the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to lift certain restrictions on how patients can obtain mifepristone, as well as add a new indication to make it clear the drug can be safely used to help reduce complications from a miscarriage.

  • “For over two decades, women have been safely and effectively using medication abortion —mifepristone and misoprostol — to terminate a pregnancy,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to FDA Commissioner Robert Califf.
  • “But the Supreme Court’s reckless decision to overturn Roe v. Wade now endangers millions of women in this country who are facing restrictions to lifesaving care and rights.” 

With Republicans in control of the House starting next year and with a maximum majority of only 51 seats in the Senate, Democrats likely won’t be able to take action on protecting abortion unless it’s through executive authority. 

Miscarriage label: In 2000, the FDA approved mifepristone for medication abortion. The drug is used in combination with a second pill, misoprostol, during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy.

The combination of mifepristone and misoprostol can also significantly improve the management of early pregnancy loss and result in fewer complications. 

But that combination is not explicitly indicated for miscarriage management, and patients in states that have restricted access to abortion have reported being denied the medications to treat their miscarriages, as pharmacists said they feared prosecution for dispensing the drugs. 

Read more here. 

FDA approves first treatment that delays diabetes

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Thursday approved the first drug that delays the onset of a stage of Type 1 diabetes, a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin.

  • The monoclonal antibody teplizumab will be marketed under the brand name Tzield. It is made by Provention Bio.
  • The therapy will carry a wholesale cost of roughly $194,000 for a full course of treatment, the drug’s manufacturer said.
  • The drug does not cure or prevent Type 1 diabetes, but it postpones the disease’s onset by an average of two years.  

Type 1 diabetes occurs when immune cells are triggered to attack and destroy cells producing insulin. The disease progresses into stage 3 when a person has lost a significant proportion of their insulin-producing cells. 

Treatment involves a 14-day infusion of the drug. Injections of the diabetes drug Tzield are now approved for use to delay the onset of stage high-risk Type 1 diabetes among adults and children 8 years and older.

The new drug is not a treatment for the much more common type of diabetes, Type 2.

Read more here

BIDEN: OBAMACARE SIGNUPS JUMP 40 PERCENT

The number of people who signed up for health insurance through HealthCare.gov jumped by 40 percent compared to the same time last year, President Biden said on Friday. 

“Right now, four out of five folks who sign up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act can get health care coverage for $10 a month or less. These lower rates were set to expire on Jan. 1 of this coming year, but instead we were able to extend them,” Biden said during remarks addressing business and labor leaders.

“Already we’ve seen a nearly 40 percent increase in new sign-ups over last year.” 

  • More than 13.6 million were enrolled in health insurance coverage through HealthCare.gov in 2021. At the time, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reported that a record number of people — more than 9.7 million — enrolled in coverage across 33 states.
  • Enrollment for health insurance in the federal marketplace is expected to reach record highs again this year. 

Read more here 

AS STATES LEGALIZED MARIJUANA, ALCOHOL USE INCREASED: STUDY

Rates of alcohol use have increased alongside policies legalizing recreational marijuana, according to results of a new study that reflect data on over 4 million U.S. adults.

In 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize recreational marijuana, and in the decade since, more than 20 states and Washington, D.C., have followed suit.  

The study, published in JAMA Health Forum, found that between 2010 and 2019, recreational cannabis laws were linked with a 0.9 percentage point increase in alcohol use among the entire U.S. population. 

Higher alcohol intake was driven primarily by young adults between the ages of 18 and 24, and men, researchers found. These increases were also more common among non-Hispanic white individuals and those without some college education.

Associations were also greatest within the first year of the law’s implementation, but data show the relationship may diminish over time. No link between cannabis legalization and alcohol use was seen among older adults. 

However, the results did not show any associations between legalized cannabis and increases in binge or heavy drinking. 

Read more here. 

Measles outbreak in Ohio children grows; CDC called in

A measles outbreak in Columbus, Ohio, has sickened more than a dozen unvaccinated children, according to local officials who have called the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for assistance.

According to Columbus Public Health, there are 19 confirmed cases tied to 12 different schools or daycare locations. Nine children have been hospitalized.  

“All facilities are actively working with Columbus Public Health and following our guidance,” said Kelli Newman, a spokesperson for Columbus Public Health. 

Newman said 18 of the children are under the age of 4, and one child is 6 years old. None of them are vaccinated. 

  • Both CDC and officials at Columbus Public Health are encouraging parents to make sure their children are up to date on their immunizations, including the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine.
  • Measles is extremely contagious, and it can be very serious, especially for babies and young children. The CDC recommends children receive the MMR vaccine in two doses: first between 12 months and 15 months of age and a second between 4 and 6 years old.  

Read more here.

WHAT WE’RE READING

  • The end of vaccines at ‘warp speed’ (New York Times
  • Flu variant that hits kids and seniors harder than other strains is dominant in U.S. right now (CNBC
  • As STDs proliferate, companies rush to market at-home test kits. But are they reliable? (Kaiser Health News

STATE BY STATE

  • Blackfeet Nation challenges Montana ban on vaccine mandates as infringement on sovereignty (Kaiser Health News
  • State health officials hold briefing on ‘tripledemic’ (KOB 4
  • State’s top health officials encourage Mainers to stock up on at-home COVID tests ahead of holidays (Lewiston Sun Journal) 

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Health Care page for the latest news and coverage. See you next week.