Tag: public

 

Perils and Opportunities of a Public Option

By Lanhee J. Chen and Daniel L. HeilOct. 19, 2020 6:59 pm ETJoe Biden campaigns in Pembroke Pines, Fla., Oct. 13.



Photo:

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Regarding Lanhee J. Chen and Daniel L. Heil’s “Biden’s Public Option Would Mean Massive Tax Hikes,” op-ed, Oct. 20): Any vast expansion of government health insurance for “all” is at a minimum evidence that ObamaCare has failed to deliver as advertised. Massive expansion of spending would disable health care and government generally. The obvious fact that ObamaCare hasn’t delivered hardly provides evidence that much more government will rescue the system. It is past time to try much less government, more freedom and many more choices for the large number of us not liberated by ObamaCare. If it has done the job, what is the debate about?

Richard E. Ralston

Executive Director, Americans for Free Choice in Medicine

Newport Beach, Calif.

Employer-paid health insurance finances a health-insurance industry which adds little or no net value to the economy. Way too high a proportion of health-care costs goes to administration. Let the dead 1940s idea of employer-paid health insurance gracefully pass away with the single-payer public option.

Steven Williams

Pittsburgh

It’s ironic politicians define a public option to health care as one determined and rationed by the government. A true “public” option would allow individuals to decide what is best for them and where to spend their health-care dollars. All that would require is a transparent price and a system more aligned with patient needs.

Paula Muto, M.D., FACS

Andover, Mass.

Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

Appeared in the October 26, 2020, print edition.

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FDA opens private Covid vaccine meetings to the public in bid to gain trust as Trump pressures for fast approval

The FDA took the unusual step Thursday in opening to the public a routine meeting with an advisory group that’s weighing in on approving the coronavirus vaccine as the agency battles public concerns about its safety as well as political pressure from President Donald Trump to approve it before the Nov. 3 election.



a person in a blue shirt: A health worker injects a person during clinical trials for a Covid-19 vaccine at Research Centers of America in Hollywood, Florida.


© Provided by CNBC
A health worker injects a person during clinical trials for a Covid-19 vaccine at Research Centers of America in Hollywood, Florida.

The Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, an outside group of researchers and physicians who are advising the Food and Drug Administration on whether to approve a Covid-19 vaccine, debated the standards needed to ensure a Covid-19 vaccine is safe and effective in a meeting broadcast on YouTube and C-SPAN. Those are key questions among medical experts who worry the U.S. will approve a vaccine before it has been adequately tested.

Officials at the meeting Thursday said the public forum was “critical” to build public trust and confidence in the development of potential vaccines, which are being developed in record time. FDA officials promised that any vaccine would undergo rigorous testing before being distributed to the public.

“Vaccine development can be expedited. However, I want to stress that it cannot, and must not, be rushed,” said Dr. Marion Gruber, director of FDA’s Office of Vaccines Research and Review, adding the agency would not lower its standards.

Trump has pushed the FDA to approve a drug in time to distribute by the Nov. 3 election — a daunting task even his closest advisors have said is near impossible.

“I think we should have it before the election, but frankly the politics gets involved and that’s okay. They want to play their games, it’s going to be right after the election,” Trump said in a video he posted on Twitter on Oct. 7. “The FDA has acted as quickly as they’ve ever acted in history. There’s never been a time, and no president’s ever pushed them like I’ve pushed them either, to be honest.”

The agency is approving drugs “in a matter of weeks” that used to take years, he added.

Video: Dr. Patel on how the White House should be dealing with the virus outbreak: ‘This should go well beyond what’s standard’ (MSNBC)

Dr. Patel on how the White House should be dealing with the virus outbreak: ‘This should go well beyond what’s standard’

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Four drugmakers backed by the U.S. are still conducting their late-stage trials, and medical experts don’t expect to see trial data needed for FDA authorization until later this month at the earliest.

Because of the pandemic, U.S. health officials and researchers have been accelerating the development of vaccine candidates by investing in multiple stages of research even though doing so could be for naught if the vaccine ends up not being effective or safe.

The FDA, under pressure from the White House, has faced skepticism from medical experts that the vaccine approval

OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma may settle legal claims with a new ‘public trust’ that would still be dedicated to profit

<span class="caption">Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen announced a settlement between the Justice Department and opioid maker Purdue on Oct. 21.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="https://newsroom.ap.org/detail/USOpioidCrisisPurduePharma/d69562dc33ef441d83f32833f91c4d57/photo?boardId=37be9465fcce45d283d5431cccb20a6a&st=boards&mediaType=audio,photo,video,graphic&sortBy=&dateRange=Anytime&totalCount=36&currentItemNo=2" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Yuri Gripas/Pool via AP">Yuri Gripas/Pool via AP</a></span>
Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen announced a settlement between the Justice Department and opioid maker Purdue on Oct. 21. Yuri Gripas/Pool via AP

Purdue Pharma, the company that makes OxyContin and other potentially addictive prescription opioids, has agreed to plead guilty to three felony counts and reached a settlement potentially worth at least US$8.3 billion with the Justice Department.

The deal could clear the way for Purdue to transform from a profit-seeking privately held company into a public trust that serves the public good, as the company has proposed.

But the settlement is subject to the approval of the federal judge overseeing Purdue’s bankruptcy case. And it may not resolve the thousands of lawsuits Purdue faces for its role in creating the opioid crisis. Notably, the attorneys general from 25 states called on the government a week before the Justice Department announced the deal to simply force the sale of the drugmaker to a new owner instead.

I study the history of prescription drugs (and I have served as a paid consultant and expert witness in opioid litigation). Although there are some recent efforts to establish nonprofit drugmakers to help make certain pharmaceuticals more readily available, I know of no historical precedent for a big drugmaker like Purdue becoming a nonprofit public health provider.

But two similarly ambitious efforts to build alternatives to the profit-driven pharmaceutical model during and immediately after World War II suggest the potential limits of how well this arrangement might work.

Antibiotics

Penicillin was discovered in 1928 but did not come into use until World War II. It was the first antibiotic: a genuinely revolutionary class of drugs that vanquished previously incurable infectious illnesses.

Because of penicillin’s importance for the war effort, the federal government played an active role in its development. Federal scientists developed ways to mass-produce it, federal agencies persuaded reluctant pharmaceutical companies to manufacture it and the government’s “penicillin czar” decided which patients would receive the precious drug.

Despite the high stakes and the faith in centralized planning, no one at that time appears to have even considered the possibility of noncommercial or nonprofit development of antibiotics.

As was the case with wartime goods such as rubber and tanks, private companies with federal contracts made penicillin. As was also the case with other wartime goods, the arrangement was an unqualified success. It dramatically increased production, and allocated the antibiotic so as to best serve the war effort.

For penicillin, as with other goods, federal economic controls quickly faded after the war. As the medical historian Scott Podolsky has observed, drugmakers, freed from government restraints, unleashed an avalanche of brand-name antibiotics whose high-powered marketing campaigns encouraged the overuse and misuse of the new medicines.

Interestingly, the Sackler brothers got their start by selling antibiotics. The Sacklers, future owners of Purdue Pharma, were pioneers of medical advertising who abandoned earlier restraints and advised their sales representatives to see physicians as “prey.”

The Veterans Administration and the Public Health Service sought to keep

Fitness classes for homeless people opens to public after charity founder bounces back from covid-19

Street Fit Scotland founder Michelle Reilly putting classes through their paces at the Meadows
Street Fit Scotland founder Michelle Reilly putting classes through their paces at the Meadows

Michelle Reilly, who set up Street Fit Scotland while working in a hostel in 2014, was floored by covid-19 then pleurisy for a month just after lockdown in March. The 37-year-old feared her health and fitness programme would go to the wall.But instead the charity, which runs free outdoor boot camps for rough sleepers and those living in bed-and-breakfast accommodation, is ramping up its programme and launching a new running group – open to anyone in the Capital.Ms Reilly, who shared the stage with Dame Kelly Homes MBE at a wellbeing festival this year as the athlete talked about her battles with depression, has now been awarded £40,000 by NHS and ECC for two years.Over forty people are put through their paces every week at outdoor boot camps and online sessions led by Michelle and a range of coaches. The cash will mean SFS can support more people, including those recovering from addictions.Ms Reilly, who experienced homelessness as a teenager, was terrified when she struggled to get out of bed after getting the virus and a severe chest infection. But when she found out that two people in her group had attempted suicide during lockdown, she pushed herself to get back on her feet.She said: “I was so scared about what could happen to everyone if I wasn’t there. Lockdown was hard for the group. I had my phone on 24/7 on high suicide alert. If you’re stuck in a B&B it’s not always a positive place, we help get them out. We can’t just leave people to rot. Some people in hostels or temp accommodation are terrified, it can be chaotic.””People in the group have problems but Street Fit gives them access to something fun that they can do at their own pace and they don’t feel judged. They can come in feeling rubbish and leave buzzing,”The 37-year-old lost her younger brother and cousin to suicide and addiction. She said it hit her after lockdown that physical activity and the peer-led, group support was going to be even more vital in covid-19 times, especially for those already struggling with their mental health.”Two of the group tried to take their life during lockdown. It’s heart-breaking. My cousin was always in crisis and never had consistent support. That was one of the catalysts for me, to recognise there is not enough support for mental health.””Some of the group really struggled and some still are. They will feel like that again. I think we are going to see a big wave of mental health problems. What we are doing with outdoor boot camps, the online sessions and the new walking groups gives them a coping strategy. I can see it helping to build their resilience. Behaviour does change over time, given a chance. They are helping each other through hard times.”Members now get access to phone counselling and the charity has delivered tablets for everyone to make sure

CDC Recommends Face Masks in All Public Transportation Settings | Health News

By Robin Foster and E.J. Mundell
HealthDay Reporters

(HealthDay)

TUESDAY, Oct. 20, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Seeking to slow the spread of coronavirus, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended on Monday that face masks be worn by everyone in all public transportation settings.

That includes both passengers and people working in stations, terminals and airports across the country, CBS News reported.

So far, the Trump administration has not issued any national mandate on face coverings, instead leaving that decision to state and local leaders.

In the new interim guidance, the CDC called masks “one of the most effective strategies available for reducing COVID-19 transmission.” Wide use of masks helps protect those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 as well as workers who frequently come into close contact with other people in airports, bus terminals, train stations and seaports, the guidance stated.

Most U.S. airlines, Amtrak and many other transport companies already require passengers and staff to wear masks, CBS News reported. The CDC urged passengers and workers on all airplanes, ships, ferries, trains, subways, buses, taxis and ride-shares to follow suit.

For months, research has shown that face masks help curb the spread of COVID-19. In the new guidance, the CDC said everyone “should wear masks that cover both the mouth and nose when waiting for, traveling on, or departing from public [transportation]. People should also wear masks at an airport, bus or ferry terminal, train or subway station, seaport, or similar area that provides transportation.”

The guidance also urges transport operators to “refuse boarding to anyone not wearing a mask and require all people onboard, whether passengers or employees, to wear masks for the duration of travel,” with exceptions for eating, drinking and medical disorders that prohibit mask wearing.

Reopened NYC schools not seeing surge in COVID cases

Three weeks after becoming the first big urban area to reopen public schools since the pandemic began, New York City is not seeing a feared surge in cases among students and staff.

Instead, health officials are seeing a surprisingly small number of COVID-19 cases, The New York Times reported.

Of the more than 15,000 staff members and students tested randomly in the first week of its testing regimen, the city has gotten back results for close to 11,000. There were only 18 positives: 13 staff members and five students, the Times reported. Even better, when officials put mobile testing units at schools near the Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods that have had new outbreaks, only four positive cases surfaced in more than 3,300 tests conducted since the last week of September, the newspaper said.

New York City is facing fears of a second wave of the virus fueled by local spikes in Brooklyn and Queens, and official have closed more than 120 public schools as a precaution, the Times reported.

Still, the sprawling system of 1,800 public schools is a bright spot as the city tries to recover from a pandemic that has killed thousands and weakened

CDC rolls out new guidance urging masks for passengers, workers on public transit

The U.S. Centers and Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new guidelines on Monday calling for all passengers and workers on planes, trains, buses and other public transportation to wear masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The CDC explained in the guidance that travel on public transportation increases the risk of spreading COVID-19, especially in cases in which passengers or employees cannot practice social distancing. 

“Given how interconnected most transportation systems are across the nation and the world, local transmission can grow quickly into interstate and international transmission when infected persons travel on public conveyances without wearing a mask and with others who are not wearing masks,” the CDC’s guidance reads.

The recommendations follow pressure from airline industry leaders, as well as widespread agreement on the effectiveness of masks and face coverings in blocking the spread of COVID-19, The Washington Post noted.

The Monday recommendation came after a request from Vice President Pence to CDC Director Robert Redfield, according to the newspaper. The new language gives the airline industry greater leeway in pressing passengers to wear masks.

The move also comes after the White House blocked the CDC from implementing a rule mandating that all passengers and employees wear face coverings on transit, The New York Times first reported. That order would have been the administration’s strictest measure to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The new CDC guidance states: “Face masks help prevent people who have COVID-19, including those who are pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic, from spreading the virus to others. Masks are most likely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when they are widely used by people in public settings.”

The guidelines provide exemptions for some travelers including children under the age of two and others with written instructions from a medical provider not to wear masks. 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpNearly 300 former national security officials sign Biden endorsement letter DC correspondent on the death of Michael Reinoehl: ‘The folks I know in law enforcement are extremely angry about it’ Late night hosts targeted Trump over Biden 97 percent of the time in September: study MORE, who initially downplayed the efficacy of masks, was diagnosed with COVID-19 earlier this month. He has since recovered. 

Health officials agree that wearing a face mask or covering and social distancing are the most effective ways to slow the spread of COVID-19.

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Emergency Public Health Order Issued In Arapahoe County

ARAPAHOE COUNTY, CO — An emergency public health order has been issued in Arapahoe County amid rising coronavirus cases, officials announced Friday.

The order, which goes into effect at 11 p.m. Friday, requires the following changes for businesses and residents:

  • All alcohol sales at restaurants and bars in the county will end at 11 p.m. instead of midnight

  • Personal gatherings (such as those with families, friends and neighbors) are restricted to 10 people or fewer, instead of the 25-person limit.

  • Nonessential, office-based businesses are encouraged to increase telecommuting within office-based environments.

“There are several reasons for these steps. First, Tri-County Health Department’s contact tracing and case investigation have revealed that many people who have tested positive for COVID-19 have attended private gatherings during their time of likely exposure,” the agency said in a news release.

“Second, limiting sale of alcohol has been an effective step in other jurisdictions, including statewide, following restrictions during July. Third, we are seeing a growing number of outbreaks across the county, many of which are related to places of employment.”

The order is scheduled to expire Nov. 1, unless it’s extended, officials said.

More than 700 new cases have been reported in the county over the past week, according to the latest public health data.

“This emergency public health order is an attempt to lower the increasing cases of COVID-19 in order to protect the health of our community and avoid the need for further reductions in community activities such as businesses, schools, and houses of worship in Arapahoe County,” said John Douglas, executive director of Tri-County Health Department.

“I know it gets old and that everyone has COVID fatigue, but there is strong reason to believe that infection could further spread and hospitalizations increase as we move further into the fall and winter. There will be light at the end of the tunnel as new vaccines become available, and we just cannot let our guard down yet.”

Don’t miss the latest coronavirus updates from health and government officials in Littleton: Free Newsletters and Email Alerts | Facebook | Twitter

On the state’s dial, Arapahoe County is at Safer at Home Level 1. Moving to Level 2 would trigger a range of new restrictions:

  • Tighter capacity limits for offices, businesses, restaurants and houses of worship;

  • Stricter limits on group sports, gyms and bars

  • Tighter restrictions for some outdoor activities.

“No one wants to see our communities and economy return to the widespread shutdowns we had this past spring,” said Nancy Sharpe, Arapahoe County Board of Commissioners Chair.

“If we implement these mitigation measures now, we may be able to reverse these trends. It’s up to everyone to continue to do their part to stop the spread of the virus.”

This article originally appeared on the Littleton Patch

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Austin Public Health Outlines Differences

AUSTIN, TX — Flu season is upon us once more, but emerging this year against the backdrop of the coronavirus. Given the double threat, Austin Public Health officials have outlined the dinstinctions between both illnesses to alert concerned residents.

Referencing material provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, local health officials noted both are contagious respiratory illness but caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by infection with the new coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2 while flu is caused by an infection with influenza viruses, health officials said.

Similarities and Differences

Symptoms: Common symptoms of both COVID-19 and flu include fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle pain and/or headache. A COVID-19 symptom, different from flu symptoms, may include a loss of taste or smell.

Onset: For both COVID-19 and flu, one or more days can pass between a person becoming infected and experiencing symptoms. Both viruses can also spread for at least one day before individuals experience any symptoms. COVID-19 symptoms can take longer to appear than flu. For flu, symptoms typically appear one to four days after infection. For COVID-19, symptoms can appear two to fourteen days after infection.

Spread: Both COVID-19 and flu can spread from person to person between people who are in close contact with one another, within about six feet. Both illnesses are spread mainly by respiratory droplets when a person infected with either virus coughs, sneezes or talks.

For coronavirus testing, visit the COVID-19 Information city portal

For flu testing, visit your provider, urgent care, or pharmacy

Risk: Both COVID-19 and flu can cause severe illness and complications. Those at highest risk include older adults, people with underlying medical conditions and pregnant women. However, the risk of complications for healthy children is higher for flu compared to COVID-19.

Vaccine & Treatment: Flu has an annual vaccine available to prevent the illness. Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent COVID-19.

Visit VaccineFinder.org to find a location near you offering flu shots.

Flu also has an antiviral drug that can reduce the severity and length of illness if prescribed within 48 hours of symptom onset. For additional COVID-19 information, visit the COVID-19 Information portal.

Graphic via Austin Public Health.

This article originally appeared on the Austin Patch

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Psychedelics startups racing to go public: Compass, Havn, Field Trip

  • There is a “psychedelics renaissance” in motion, according to insiders in the industry, as shown by a rush of investor dollars and a number of public market debuts.
  • Some of the investors and banks working in psychedelics are the same ones who were involved with the cannabis boom and subsequent bust.
  • Despite the similarities, psychedelics insiders say that there are stark differences between cannabis and psychedelics.
  • Business Insider spoke to five industry insiders, from company CEOs to investors. They said they don’t see psychedelics facing the same pitfalls that befell the cannabis industry.
  • Subscribe to Insider Cannabis for more stories like this.

The psychedelics industry is booming.

Compass Pathways, a London-based psychedelics giant, raised $146.6 million in its US initial public offering last month, and is valued at more than $1 billion. Psychedelics companies Field Trip Health and Havn Life Sciences recently started trading in Canada, following MindMed, which secured a Canadian listing in March.

Meanwhile, the psychedelics industry is drawing attention from biotech investors, as well as from cannabis companies looking for fresh opportunities.

The total market for psychedelics-related medicines could eventually reach $100 billion, according to a report from Tania Gonsalves at Canaccord Genuity. Companies are working on psychedelics-based therapies for treatment-resistant depression, cluster headaches, opioid use disorder, smoking cessation, and PTSD among others, according to the report.

Ronan Levy, the founder and executive chairman of Field Trip, which is focused on setting up treatment clinics and on psychedelics-based drug development and manufacturing, called the uptick in investor interest and funding a “psychedelic renaissance.”

A focus on the importance of mental health has gone mainstream, Levy said. Other factors driving the boom include increasing research on psychedelics, big-name investors like Peter Thiel coming on board, skepticism around big pharma, and the headway that cannabis has made in challenging preconceived notions of drugs, he said.

The psychedelics boom has some parallels with the cannabis bubble

Levy’s firm started trading on the Canadian Securities Exchange on Oct. 6. Cannabis-focused asset manager Silver Spike Capital and Harris Fricker, the former CEO of GMP Capital, invested in the company before it went public.

GMP Capital is a Canadian investment bank that advised cannabis companies including Canopy Growth. Its capital-markets business was acquired by Stifel Financial in December 2019. Other Canadian investment banks that work with cannabis companies, such as Canaccord Genuity and Eight Capital, are now starting to advise psychedelics companies as they gear up to trade publicly.

“I think you have a lot of people who have seen what has happened in the cannabis industry from a capital markets perspective, seeing psychedelics as an extension of it,” said Levy. “You have a lot of people who either made a lot of money or were very interested in the cannabis industry, seeing the cannabis industry going through a bit of a trough from a valuation perspective and a reputational perspective and they’re looking for another great opportunity.”

Though there are some parallels between cannabis and psychedelics, they don’t run as deep as

Benefits of Public Health Education

Public health education can be considered an ambiguous term. It teaches the proper way to improve one’s health, and can involve only one or two people, or the population of several countries. Anything that can seriously threaten the physical, mental, or spiritual health of a wide range of people, notably due to their interactions with one another, can be classified as a threat to the community’s public health. This is why public health education becomes a necessary tool to aid people against the spread of potential diseases and illnesses. Five of the most important reasons of how public health education can prove beneficial are as follows:

1. People are able to learn how to prevent the spread of communicable diseases through the training and methods being taught in education. People are able to have better access to information regarding general prevention of diseases, including the knowledge of what to do and how to act during epidemics in their area. Certain diseases have their own individual prevention methods that people should be well aware of, and employing these techniques lessens the risk of being infected by possible diseases. Through public health education, even simple things such as wearing a flu mask in particularly affected areas, or knowing when to take vaccines for a particular illness that is prominent at that time of the year, always proves very effective in limiting the number of people affected annually.

2. More people are able to access private and public medical institutions to prevent diseases or medical conditions, or to better treat them. Without the benefits of a public health education, most people may feel healthy enough and not find the need to go for a general check-up. Being aware that it is necessary to see your doctor regularly is one of the important things learned in a good public health education. Most medical hospitals and clinics offer immunization or vaccine shots during the flu seasons, or when a general outbreak of hepatitis is going around, and a public health education ensures that more people know to go to these facilities and avail of the treatment, thereby lessening the amount of ill people.

3. People are able to adopt a healthier behavior to lessen the risk of diseases being spread among themselves. Keeping things cleaner around the house, opting to lessen or quit smoking altogether, or exercising more are just a few of the many different ways taught in public health education to combat sickness and improve one’s lifestyle.

4. People become more aware of information relating to the disease, rather than believing in just public perception. Public health education not only deals with how to prevent illnesses, it also provides details of how a disease works, which may dispel some myths and fallacies about it in society. The HIV virus for example, can be spread through unprotected sexual intercourse, but not through activities such as kissing or touching. This also helps change a person’s views towards someone infected, promoting more empathy rather than discrimination.…