KHN: The FDA is pursuing nicotine


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

The Supreme Court, meanwhile, did not rule on a high-stakes abortion case, but said private health insurers could limit the amount of kidney dialysis care they provide, forcing some patients to take Medicare.

Panelists this week include Julie Rovner of KHN, Joan Kennen of John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Politics and Rachel Kors of Stat.

Excerpts from this week’s episode:

  • The FDA has ordered Juul to remove its e-cigarettes from the US market because the company’s application to the agency does not provide enough information to regulators to determine whether Juul poses a danger to consumers. The FDA said there were concerns about the risk of leaking some harmful chemicals from Juul pods. Juul is expected to appeal the FDA’s decision in court.
  • Juul helped cause an explosion in e-cigarette use when it hit the market, and officials initially thought it would help smokers who were trying to quit smoking. But the use of flavored tobacco by the industry and aggressive marketing have helped dramatically increase teen use and have led to regulatory action.
  • The Supreme Court ruled this week that employers can choose to do all dialysis off-line in their employees’ health plans, a decision that is likely to prompt many patients to seek Medicare coverage for their kidney problems. The decision was a disappointment for dialysis providers, who receive fewer refunds from Medicare than they usually receive from private insurance plans.
  • The decision leaves many details unresolved and further court battles may lie ahead. Dialysis providers can also turn to Congress to pass laws banning employers from such moves.
  • The Senate is likely to consider a bill proposed by Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Jean Shahin (DN.H.) that seeks to reduce the price of insulin. The bill is considered more favorable for drug manufacturers than another measure passed by the Chamber this year. The Senate bill aims to get drug manufacturers to offer insulin at the price they received from Medicare in 2021, allowing them to circumvent discounts and other expensive subsidies paid to pharmacy managers and insurance plans. This will also limit the cost to insured consumers to $ 35.
  • As the Senate approaches the passage of arms security legislation, other efforts are under way to find more funding for programs to help address mental health issues. These efforts could help reduce suicide and domestic violence campaigns, which are also often linked to weapons.
  • The chamber is launching efforts to adopt budget accounts, and the original funding measure from the Ministry of Health and Human Services again does not include the so-called Hyde Amendment, a long-standing policy named after the late Henry Hyde (R-Il.), Which bans the use of federal funds for most abortions. Earlier efforts by the House to reject Hyde’s amendment did not clear the Senate.
  • President Joe Biden has nominated Arati Prabhakar, former head of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), as head of the White House Science and Technology Service. She will replace Eric Lander, who was forced to resign following reports of harassment of staff.
  • Prabhakar does not seem to be a controversial choice and comes with a lot of managerial experience. Her responsibilities are likely to include monitoring pandemic planning, efforts to form a new biomedical research agency called ARPA-H, and strategies to improve cancer prevention.

Also this week, Rovner interviewed Noam N. Levy of KHN about KHN-NPR’s new medical debt project called Diagnosis: Debt.

In addition, for extra credit, panelists recommend their favorite health policy stories for the week, which they think you should also read:

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

Joan Kennen: Fern.org “Back Forty: How to Protect Farm Workers from Heat Kidney Disease” by Nancy Averett

Rachel Kors: The Facebook tag “receives sensitive medical information from hospital websites” by Todd Feathers, Simon Fondry-Tateler, Angie Waller and Surya Matu


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