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4. Political Cartoon: 'Is There A Doctor On The Plane?'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Is There A Doctor On The Plane?'" by Steve Kelley.

Here's today's health policy haiku:

BOUNCING BACK FROM A HEART ATTACK

Walk on that treadmill!
Medicare will pay for it.
It’s part of rehab.

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:

Capitol Hill Watch

5. Senators Decry Mylan's EpiPen Price-Lowering Tactics As 'Complex Shell Game'

In a show of force, 20 Democrats send a letter to the allergy drug maker, demanding answers. They say that the generic price that will be offered by Mylan “is still three times higher than the cost of the branded EpiPen in 2007.”

The Associated Press: 20 Democratic Senators Blast Steep Price Hike For EpiPens
In a sign of growing concern in Congress, 20 Democratic senators are demanding answers about steep price hikes for the life-saving EpiPen injector device. The senators said in a letter Tuesday that price hikes of more than 500 percent have jeopardized access to emergency allergy shots for many Americans. The letter was addressed to Heather Bresch, CEO of the pharmaceutical company that makes the devices, Mylan N.V. Bresch is the daughter of Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. Manchin did not sign the letter. (Daly, 8/30)

The Wall Street Journal: Senators See ‘Shell Game’ In EpiPen Maker Mylan’s Bid To Ease Access To Allergy Drug
A group of 20 senators called the recent price-lowering overtures from the company that makes the EpiPen emergency auto-injector a “well-defined industry tactic to keep costs high through a complex shell game.” The sheer number of senators – 19 Democrats plus independent Sen. Bernie Sanders – represents a ratcheting-up of the stakes over the dramatic price increases of the emergency epinephrine product from Mylan NV. Mylan has sought recently to quell criticism by announcing discount programs and, on Monday, other plans soon to offer a generic version at half price. (Burton, 8/30)

Morning Consult: Senate Democrats Blast Mylan’s Affordability Moves
The senators, 19 Democrats and independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, wrote that the company’s decision to offer a generic version of EpiPens and offer a discount coupon for patients paying the full list price out-of-pocket still results in high costs for patients through insurance premiums. (McIntire, 8/30)

The Star Tribune: Franken Joins Mounting Criticism Of EpiPen Manufacturer 
U.S. Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota has added his voice to the congressional outcry against price increases Mylan pharmaceutical company made to its epinephrine auto-injector that treats potentially deadly allergic reactions. Last week, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota called for a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing and asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate possible antitrust violations by Mylan, which raised the price of a two-pack of its EpiPen product from $100 in 2008 to $500 to $600 in 2016. (Spencer, 8/30)

Los Angeles Times: State Senator Introduces Resolution To Condemn EpiPen Price Hikes
State Sen. Ed Hernandez's attempt to push through a drug pricing transparency bill sputtered this year, but the West Covina Democrat still wants his colleagues to weigh in on the latest controversy in the cost of prescription drugs: the surging price of EpiPens. Hernandez is introducing a resolution that excoriates the anti-allergy device's manufacturer, Mylan, joining a chorus of federal lawmakers who have accused the company of price-gouging. (Mason, 8/30)

St. Louis Public Radio: Epi Pen Price Spike Leaves St. Louisans With Few Options 
So far, [Maureen] Walkenbach’s meticulous monitoring of her son’s food intake has kept her from having to use an EpiPen. But the injectors expire every year, and have to be re-purchased. The Walkenbachs have health insurance, but recently switched to a high-deductible plan. Even with a patient assistance coupon from Mylan, Walkenbach was on the hook for more than $500 for one EpiPen set — a cost she said she’s willing to pay, because going without it would be unthinkable. Instead of three pairs of EpiPens, Walkenbach said the price is forcing her to make do with two — switching one from her kitchen cabinet to her purse whenever she leaves the house. When she forgets it, as she did on a recent trip to the grocery store, she rushes home in a panic.  (Bouscaren, 8/30)

For more drug pricing news, check out our weekly feature, Prescription Drug Watch, which includes coverage and perspectives of the issue.

Administration News

6. The Zika Coffers Are Bare, CDC Director Warns

If the virus starts spreading more broadly within the country, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the agency's hands will be tied as its financial resources will run out next month.

The New York Times: U.S. Funding For Fighting Zika Virus Is Nearly Spent, C.D.C. Says
The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned on Tuesday that federal funds to fight the Zika virus were nearly exhausted, and that if Congress did not replenish them soon, there would be no money to fight a new outbreak. As of Friday, the C.D.C. had spent $194 million of the $222 million it was allocated to fight the virus, said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the director of the agency. Congress left for its summer recess without approving additional funding. Now that the virus is actively circulating in Florida, Dr. Frieden is pressing his case for funding with new urgency. (Tavernise, 8/30)

The Washington Post: Centers For Disease Control Will Run Out Of Money To Fight Zika In U.S. Next Month
The federal agency leading the public health response to the Zika threat in the United States will run out of funding to combat the mosquito-borne virus by late September, its director said Monday. "The cupboard is bare," said Tom Frieden, who heads the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Basically, we're out of money, and we need Congress to act to allow us to respond effectively." Of the $222 million that the CDC allocated for domestic Zika response this year, about $200 million has been committed, Frieden said during a media roundtable in Washington. "The rest will be gone by the end of September." (Sun, 8/30)

NBC News: CDC Almost Out Of Zika Money, Director Says
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is almost out of money to fight the Zika virus, the agency's director said Tuesday — just hours before Florida announced three fresh homegrown cases of the infection. Zika has now infected 46 people locally in Florida, presumably spread by mosquitoes. One case is part of an outbreak in Miami Beach and health officials say they're trying to trace the origins of two others. (Fox, 8/30)

The Hill: CDC Director On Zika: 'Basically, We're Out Of Money' 
The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday made his strongest case yet for Congress to include funding to combat the Zika virus in its stopgap spending bill next month. “Basically, we’re out of money,” Dr. Tom Frieden told reporters at a briefing in downtown Washington. “Congress needs to do something.” (Ferris, 8/30)

Meanwhile, Theranos' efforts to implement a blood test for Zika are blocked, Florida lawmakers push for the use of genetically modified mosquitoes and scientists discover another way the virus damages babies —

The Wall Street Journal: Theranos Halts New Zika Test After FDA Inspection
Theranos Inc. withdrew its request for emergency clearance of a Zika-virus blood test after federal regulators found that the company didn’t include proper patient safeguards in a study of the new test, said people familiar with the matter. The move is another setback for the Palo Alto, Calif., company as it tries to recover from crippling regulatory sanctions that followed revelations by The Wall Street Journal of shortcomings in Theranos’s technology and operations. Theranos has said it is appealing. (Carreyrou and Weaver, 8/30)

Health News Florida: Lawmakers Call For Use Of Modified Mosquitoes In Zika Fight
Incoming leaders of the Florida House said Monday they will urge the federal government to allow the use of genetically engineered mosquitoes to help fight the Zika virus. Incoming House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O' Lakes, said he plans to ask the federal government to allow emergency use of the technology in areas of Florida where transmission of the mosquito-borne disease might occur. Incoming House Minority Leader, Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, backed the idea, and other House members have until 5 p.m. Wednesday to sign on. (8/30)

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