Welcome to Thursday’s Overnight Health Care, where we’re following the latest moves on policy and news affecting your health. Subscribe here:
K-pop superstars BTS are heading to the White House next week to help spotlight anti-Asian hate crimes and discrimination, as well as discuss “the importance of diversity and inclusion.”
Food and Drug Administration commissioner Robert Califf was back in the hot seat on Thursday as lawmakers continue to demand answers for the infant formula shortage.
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Formula shortage won’t end until July, FDA chief says
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner Robert Califf told members of the Senate Health Committee the infant formula shortage likely won’t be fully resolved until late July.
He said it will take time to get to the point when store shelves are fully stocked, but eventually, there will be a surplus.
“My expectation is that within two months we should be beyond normal, and with a plethora,” Califf said. “It’s going to be gradual improvement up to probably somewhere around two months until the shelves are replete again.”
Califf added that there will need to be a discussion about whether the government should create a national stockpile of formula “as a backup” to guard against future disruptions. The US currently doesn’t have formula in reserve, as it’s a perishable commodity.
Conflicting timeline: While acknowledging the agency was likely too slow to act at first, Califf put much of the responsibility for correcting the shortage on the manufacturer.
“Our oversight is critical, but make no mistake: The return to normal will only take place when Abbott takes steps to resume in a safe manner,” Califf said Thursday.
The FDA and Abbott are operating under a legal agreement to reopen Abbott’s facility, but there have been conflicting statements about when that might happen.
An Abbott executive on Wednesday told a House panel that the company is ready to reopen beginning the first week of June.
But Califf said the company has yet to meet the FDA’s lengthy requirements and won’t be ready for the next several weeks.
Read more here.
CDC: Nine monkeypox cases confirmed across seven states
Nine monkeypox cases across seven states in the US have been confirmed as of this week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
During a press briefing, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky confirmed that nine cases of monkeypox in seven states have been identified.
“These cases were suspected by local clinicians. They were identified by local laboratories and triggered local public health action to help with treatment and management of any potential contacts,” Walensky said.
Cases have been identified in California, Florida, Massachusetts, New York, Utah, Virginia and Washington state.
The clinical samples of these suspected cases were also tested by the CDC for confirmatory testing.
The cases in the US have been found in men who have sex with men, though Walensky stressed that the risk of exposure is “not limited to any one particular group.”
“Stigma and discrimination in public health results in decreased access to care, ongoing disease transmission and a blunted response to outbreaks and threats,” Walensky said. “So I urge everyone to approach this outbreak without stigma and without discrimination.”
The US has two vaccines and two antiviral treatments that can be used for orthopox infections, a family of viruses that monkeypox falls within. One vaccine, called Jynneos, has already been mobilized to be sent to states with confirmed cases.
Read more here.
FIRST FEDERALLY SUPPORTED TEST-TO-TREAT SITE LAUNCHES
The White house on Thursday announced the first federally supported test-to-treat site in Providence, RI
The site using federal funding joins the roughly 2,500 other test-to-treat sites across the country, where people can get tested for COVID-19, and then get prescribed the Pfizer treatment pills known as Paxlovid if they are positive.
The administration is working to set up additional federally supported test-to-treat sites as part of its push to increase use of Paxlovid, which has been shown to reduce the risk of hospitalization or death by around 90 percent.
Federal personnel are also being deployed to Minnesota to help in state-run test-to-treat sites, the White House said.
The increased use of Paxlovid is one of the reasons the administration cites the death rate for staying largely flat despite a recent increase in cases.
40 PERCENT OF AMERICANS SAY ABORTION IS ONE OF THEIR TOP ISSUES
Forty percent of Americans list abortion as one of the most important issues in the country, according to a new Marquette Law School Poll.
The new poll, published on Thursday, found that 39 percent of those surveyed said that the issue of abortion is somewhat important to them, while 21 percent of respondents said the issue isn’t important to them.
Thirty-one percent of Republican respondents said that abortion is one of the country’s most important issues, while 44 percent of Republican respondents said the issue of abortion is somewhat important and 17 percent said the topic of abortion isn’t important at all.
Forty-eight percent of Democrat respondents said that abortion is one of the country’s most important issues, while 14 percent of respondents who are Democrats disagree, according to the poll.
Thirty-eight percent of independent respondents believe that abortion is one of the country’s most important issues, while 25 percent of those respondents believe that abortion isn’t an important topic.
Read more here.
Oklahoma governor signs nation’s strictest abortion ban into law
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) signed a bill into law Wednesday that bans abortion at conception in his state, the strictest anti-abortion law in the nation.
Stitt signed House Bill 4327, which prohibits physicians from performing abortions at any point in a pregnancy, unless it is necessary to save the pregnant person’s life.
The law is modeled after the Texas “bounty” law that passed last year. The ban is enforced by civil lawsuits from private citizens, rather than from local authorities.
The law allows private citizens to file civil lawsuits up to $10,000 against anyone who performs or assists in performing an abortion. However, it does not allow the person seeking an abortion to be sued.
Under the measure, abortions are prohibited at any stage of pregnancy, with exceptions for medical emergencies or if the pregnancy was a result of rape, sexual assault or incest and reported to law enforcement.
Read more here.
WHAT WE’RE READING
- Patients face long delays for imaging of cancers and other diseases (The New York Times)
- CDC plans to stop reporting suspected Covid cases to ease burden (Bloomberg)
- Warning signs ahead of monkeypox outbreak went unheeded, experts say (Stat)
STATE BY STATE
- Florida IG report: ‘Insufficient evidence’ for DeSantis critic’s claims of Covid coverup (NBC)
- California schools try to outrace Covid outbreaks (Kaiser Health News)
- Abbott calls Texas school shooting a mental health issue but cut state spending for it (NBC)