Note To Readers

KHN's Morning Briefing will not be published May 30. Look for it again in your inbox May 31.

In This Edition:

From Kaiser Health News:

Kaiser Health News Original Stories

3. Political Cartoon: 'Cut And Run'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Cut And Run'" by Hilary Price.

Here's today's health policy haiku:

BLUE SHIELD OF CALIFORNIA DETAILS EXEC PAY

They lifted the veil …
But the reveal – overdue!
That’s what critics say.

If you have a health policy haiku to share, please Contact Us and let us know if you want us to include your name. Keep in mind that we give extra points if you link back to a KHN original story.

Summaries Of The News:

Public Health And Education

4. Discovery Of Superbug In U.S. Could Signal 'End Of The Road' For Antibiotics

Defense Department researchers have determined that a Pennsylvania woman carried a strain of E. coli resistant to the antibiotic colistin, a discovery that could lead to a "nightmare" situation where infections are untreatable.

The New York Times: Infection Raises Specter Of Superbugs Resistant To All Antibiotics
American military researchers have identified the first patient in the United States to be infected with bacteria that are resistant to an antibiotic that was the last resort against drug-resistant germs. The patient is well now, but the case raises the specter of superbugs that could cause untreatable infections, because the bacteria can easily transmit their resistance to other germs that are already resistant to additional antibiotics. The resistance can spread because it arises from loose genetic material that bacteria typically share with one another. (Tavernise and Grady, 5/26)

The Washington Post: The Superbug That Doctors Have Been Dreading Just Reached The U.S.
For the first time, researchers have found a person in the United States carrying bacteria resistant to antibiotic of last resort, an alarming development that the top U.S. public health official says could signal "the end of the road" for antibiotics. The antibiotic-resistant strain was found last month in the urine of a 49-year-old Pennsylvania woman. Defense Department researchers determined that she carried a strain of E. coli resistant to the antibiotic colistin, according to a study published Thursday in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, a publication of the American Society for Microbiology. The authors wrote that the discovery "heralds the emergence of a truly pan-drug resistant bacteria." (Sun and Dennis, 5/26)

PBS NewsHour: New ‘Superbug’ Becomes First Drug-Proof Bacteria To Hit U.S.
A 49-year-old Pennsylvania woman has been found carrying a strain of E. coli that is resistant to last-resort antibiotics, which researchers say marks the first appearance of a drug-proof bacteria on U.S. soil. Scientists in Pennsylvania are working with the Centers for Disease Control to find a way to fight the superbug. (5/26)

STAT: Superbug Resistant To Last-Resort Antibiotics Found In U.S.
A new superbug that is resistant to the antibiotic of last resort has been spotted in the United States. Twice. US researchers reported Thursday that the mcr-1 gene has been found in E. coli bacteria retrieved from a woman from Pennsylvania. Separately, the US Department of Agriculture reported that the gene had been found in a sample of intestine from a pig. It did not provide further details, though a source told STAT the pig was raised in Texas. (Branswell, 5/26)

NBC News: 'Nightmare Bacteria' Superbug Found For First Time In U.S
Scientist fear an E. coli bacteria with the mcr-1 gene could pass it to another superbug with other mutations-- creating a truly super-superbug that resists all known antibiotics. If such a superbug spread, it would take the world back to a time when there were no antibiotics, says Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Fox, 5/26)

Reuters: U.S. Sees First Case Of Bacteria Resistant To All Antibiotics
Experts have warned since the 1990s that especially bad superbugs could be on the horizon, but few drugmakers have attempted to develop drugs against them. Frieden said the need for new antibiotics is one of the more urgent health problems, as bugs become more and more resistant to current treatments. "The more we look at drug resistance, the more concerned we are," Frieden added. "The medicine cabinet is empty for some patients. It is the end of the road for antibiotics unless we act urgently." (Pierson and Berkrot, 5/26)

5. FDA Approves First-Of-Its-Kind Implant To Treat Opioid Addiction

Proponents say the method of using implants instead of pills could help patients avoid dangerous relapses that can occur if they miss a medication dose.

The Associated Press: FDA Approves First Drug-Oozing Implant To Control Addiction
Federal health officials on Thursday approved an innovative new option for Americans struggling with addiction to heroin and painkillers: a drug-oozing implant that curbs craving and withdrawal symptoms for six months at a time. The first-of-a-kind device, Probuphine, arrives as communities across the U.S. grapple with a wave of addiction tied to opioids, highly-addictive drugs that include legal pain medications like OxyContin and illegal narcotics like heroin. Roughly 2.5 million Americans suffer from addiction disorders related to the drugs, according to federal estimates. (Perrone, 5/26)

The Washington Post: FDA Approves New Way To Treat Opioid Addiction – Under The Skin
The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday approved the first implantable drug to deliver long-lasting medication to people addicted to opioids such as OxyContin and heroin. "Opioid abuse and addiction have taken a devastating toll on American families," FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf said in a news release. "Today's approval provides the first-ever implantable option to support patients' efforts to maintain treatment as part of their overall recovery program." The implant, which has four matchstick-size rods that are inserted under the skin of the upper arm, administers the anti-addiction drug buprenorphine in a continuous dose for six months. That medication is available now only as a daily pill or a thin film that dissolves under the tongue. The implant, called Probuphine, is intended for people who are already stable on low doses of the drug. (McGinley, 5/26)

The Wall Street Journal: FDA Approves New Arm Implant To Treat Opioid Dependence
Behshad Sheldon, chief executive of the implant’s marketer, Braeburn Pharmaceuticals, said Probuphine would cost less than $6,000 for a six-month supply. She declined to be more specific. Titan Pharmaceuticals Inc. co-developed the device with Braeburn, and will receive royalties on sales. Buprenorphine is already available in tablet form, or as films that dissolve in the mouth, but addicts sometimes run out of doses, or skip them and use illegal narcotics instead. Some also sell their buprenorphine to other addicts. The implant makes this behavior impossible, and so has won support from some addiction experts. (Whalen, 5/26)

STAT: FDA Approves Implant To Treat Opioid Addiction
There’s a new tool available to help combat the opioid crisis. The Food and Drug Administration has approved an implant that continuously dispenses the opioid addiction medication buprenorphine for six months, the agency announced on Thursday. (Robbins, 5/26)

And in other news about the opioid epidemic —

Denver Post: CU, VA Researchers Explore Barriers To Reducing Opioid Use For Pain
Strong support from family members and health care providers looms key to helping patients trying to scale back or stop their use of potentially dangerous opioid painkillers, according to a new Colorado study. The project, done by a team of researchers from the University of Colorado School of Medicine and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Eastern Colorado Health Care System, sought to examine patient views on tapering back chronic opioid therapy amid evidence of increased risks and questionable long-term benefits from using prescription opioids for pain management. (Simpson, 5/26)

Detroit Free Press: Overwhelming Support For Bills To Prevent Overdoses
It doesn't happen very often that the Legislature passes bills that will save lives, said state Rep. Al Pscholka. But on Thursday, the House did just that, passing a pair of bills on 107-1 votes that would expand the state's Good Samaritan laws to help reduce the growing epidemic of drug overdose deaths. (Gray, 5/26)