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KHN First Edition: September 19, 2016


First Edition

Monday, September 19, 2016
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

Today's early morning highlights from the major news organizations.

Kaiser Health News: The Women’s Health Issue No One Talks About
Kaiser Health News staff writer Jenny Gold reports: "About 1 out of 5 women in America will experience depression in her lifetime, twice the number of men. Some are depressed throughout the course of their lives; others, like Kieley, become depressed following a big change. Over the past decade, people have increasingly treated depression with medication: Starting in 1994, the number of antidepressant prescriptions written by doctors went up 400 percent over a 10-year period. And today, about 15 percent of women take an antidepressant. Among women age 40 to 59, that number is nearly 23 percent, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)." (Gold, 9/19)

Kaiser Health News: In Battle Against Zika, Researchers Seek Foolproof Test For Infection
John Pope, for Kaiser Health News, reports: "The Zika virus has struck fear throughout the Americas, but determining whether people have been infected can be difficult.Here’s why: Most infected people don’t display symptoms or they choose to tough out what may seem like nothing more than influenza instead of seeking medical help. Moreover, infected people don’t have much detectable virus, and what’s in the body doesn’t linger." (Pope, 9/19)

California Healthline: Governor Weighs Legislation On Surprise Medical Bills
KPCC's Stephanie O'Neill, in partnership with California Healthline, reports: "In California, it is not unusual for patients to be hit by large, unexpected medical bills when they are unwittingly treated by someone outside their insurance company’s network. A 2015 survey by Consumers Union found that nearly 1 in 4 Californians who’d had hospital visits or surgery in the previous two years reported receiving an unexpected bill from an out-of-network provider. The issue can arise when a patient is treated in an in-network facility by out-of-network professionals." (O'Neill, 9/19)

The Associated Press: Congress Works To Finish Zika Aid, Prevent Shutdown
Driven by a desire to free up endangered lawmakers to campaign, congressional negotiators are working to quickly complete a spending bill to prevent an election-season government shutdown and finally provide money to battle the threat of the Zika virus. The stopgap measure would keep the government running past the end of the budget year this month. It's the only measure that has to pass before Congress adjourns for Election Day. As such, the talks have been tricky, with Republicans controlling Congress battling Democrats and the Obama administration. (9/19)

The Associated Press: Pharma Lobbying Held Deep Influence Over Policies On Opioids
The Associated Press and The Center for Public Integrity teamed up to investigate the influence of pharmaceutical companies on state and federal policies regarding opioids, the powerful painkillers that have claimed the lives of 165,000 people in the U.S. since 2000. The news agencies tracked proposed laws on the subject and analyzed data on how the companies and their allies deployed lobbyists and contributed to political campaigns. (9/18)

The Associated Press: Pro-Painkiller Echo Chamber Shaped Policy Amid Drug Epidemic
For more than a decade, members of a little-known group called the Pain Care Forum have blanketed Washington with messages touting prescription painkillers' vital role in the lives of millions of Americans, creating an echo chamber that has quietly derailed efforts to curb U.S. consumption of the drugs, which accounts for two-thirds of the world's usage. In 2012, drugmakers and their affiliates in the forum sent a letter to U.S. senators promoting a hearing about an influential report on a "crisis of epidemic proportions": pain in America. Few knew the report stemmed from legislation drafted and pushed by forum members and that their experts had helped author it. The report estimated more than 100 million Americans — roughly 40 percent of adults — suffered from chronic pain, an eye-popping statistic that some researchers call deeply problematic. (9/19)

The Associated Press: Drugmakers Fought State Opioid Limits Amid Crisis
The makers of prescription painkillers have adopted a 50-state strategy that includes hundreds of lobbyists and millions in campaign contributions to help kill or weaken measures aimed at stemming the tide of prescription opioids, the drugs at the heart of a crisis that has cost 165,000 Americans their lives and pushed countless more to crippling addiction. The drugmakers vow they're combating the addiction epidemic, but The Associated Press and the Center for Public Integrity found that they often employ a statehouse playbook of delay and defend that includes funding advocacy groups that use the veneer of independence to fight limits on their drugs, such as OxyContin, Vicodin and fentanyl, the narcotic linked to Prince's death. (9/18)

The Associated Press: NY Lower Than Most States In Rate Of Opioid Prescriptions
New York ranked fourth among states whose lawmakers drew the most contributions from the opioid industry but was near the bottom in prescriptions per capita, according to data compiled by The Associated Press and the Center for Public Integrity. Lobbyists for a loosely affiliated group of drugmakers and nonprofits in the Pain Care Forum show they had 206 registered lobbyists in Albany last year, donating $288,500 to state candidates and committees last year, and $3.7 million over the past decade. (9/18)

The Associated Press: Village Police Chief In Spotlight Of Ohio's Heroin Battle
The veteran police chief in a bucolic Ohio village, where the last murder was two decades ago and he can just about count the number of drug cases on both hands, finds himself in the spotlight on the front lines against heroin overdoses in one of the nation's hardest-hit states. Thomas Synan Jr., of Newtown, with some 2,700 people tucked among suburban cities and townships just east of Cincinnati, has led the Hamilton County Heroin Coalition task force during a stunning spike of overdoses that saw 174 reported in one six-day period last month. He has also publicly challenged Ohio's governor to do more to help an area that's "bleeding profusely." (9/18)

Reuters: U.S. Inflation Stirring As Healthcare, Housing Costs Surge
U.S. consumer prices rose more than expected in August as healthcare costs recorded their biggest gain in 32-1/2 years, pointing to a steady build-up of inflation that could allow the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates this year. The cost of living last month was also pushed up by sustained increases in rents. The uptick in inflation is likely to be welcomed by Fed officials when they gather next week to deliberate on monetary policy, though a rate hike is not expected at that meeting. (Mutikani, 9/16)

NPR: New Rules Aimed To Make Clinical Trials Safer, More Effective
Universities and drug companies that use human volunteers for research face tough new rules designed to make sure that valuable information from these volunteers is widely available, not only to the volunteers themselves but to scientists trying to advance medical science. The rules currently on the books are confusing and often ignored. (Harris, 9/16)

The Washington Post: Medical Researchers Will Have To Share More Data More Quickly
The government unveiled new policies Friday designed to make findings from clinical trials of therapies and devices more widely available, warning that it would block future funding for universities and other institutions that do not comply. The updated rules are designed to encourage more participation in research studies and to spread the results of those efforts faster and more completely to the patients, physicians and clinical investigators who need them. Officials also described them as an effort to enforce the pact with volunteers in medical experiments that they or others will someday benefit from their participation in research. (Bernstein, 9/16)

The Associated Press: Money For Bone-Marrow Donors? Company Says Yes; Feds Say No
Doug Grant says his new company, Hemeos, can save lives. But a proposed change in federal regulations could make his business a criminal enterprise. The goal of Grant’s D.C.-based startup company is to find matches for people who need bone-marrow transplants, particularly in the African-American community, where matches are harder to find. To do that, Grant wants to be able to pay donors, just as people are paid to donate blood plasma, eggs, or sperm. (Barakat, 9/16)

The Washington Post: Brain Cancer Replaces Leukemia As The Leading Cause Of Cancer Deaths In Kids
It's official: Brain cancer has replaced leukemia as the leading cause of cancer deaths among children and adolescents. In 1999, almost a third of cancer deaths among patients aged 1 to 19 were attributable to leukemia while about a quarter were caused by brain cancer. By 2014, those percentages were reversed, according to a report published Friday by the National Center for Health Statistics, which is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (McGinley, 9/16)

NPR: Can Immunotherapy For Cancer Go Mainstream?
It was in 1909 that Nobel Prize-winning German physician Paul Ehrlich proposed the idea that our bodies are fighting constant battles with cancer and that, thankfully, most of the time we win. Ehrlich was a visionary in recognizing the interaction between cancer and the immune system. Specifically, that cancerous cells are continuously arising in the body but that our immune defenses in many if not most cases keep them at bay. Now, after his and related ideas sputtered along for decades, the theory is at the core of one of oncology's hottest areas, immunotherapy, or the mobilization of the human immune system to fight malignancy. (Stetka, 9/17)

The New York Times: More Child Suicides Are Linked To A.D.D. Than Depression, Study Suggests
Attention deficit disorder is the most common mental health diagnosis among children under 12 who die by suicide, a new study has found. Very few children aged 5 to 11 take their own lives, and little is known about these deaths. The new study, which included deaths in 17 states from 2003 to 2012, compared 87 children aged 5 to 11 who committed suicide with 606 adolescents aged 12 to 14 who did, to see how they differed. (Saint Louis, 9/19)

The New York Times: Scuba, Parrots, Yoga: Veterans Embrace Alternative Therapies For PTSD
The broad acceptance of PTSD after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has posed an unexpected challenge. Acknowledging PTSD has only spurred a wide-ranging debate over the best way to treat it. Traditional medical approaches generally rely on drugs and controlled re-experiencing of trauma, called exposure therapy. But this combination has proved so unpopular that many veterans quit before finishing or avoid it altogether. This has given rise to hundreds of small nonprofits across the country that offer alternatives: therapeutic fishing, rafting and backpacking trips, horse riding, combat yoga, dogs, art collectives, dolphin swims, sweat lodge vision quests and parrot husbandry centers, among many, many others. (Philipps, 9/17)

The Associated Press: Police Officer Trial Spotlights Conflicts With Mentally Ill
Officers spent hours calling for a homeless man gripped by a range of delusions to drop his knives, abandon his campsite and walk down the rocky slope with them. But James Boyd stayed put, shouting about a made-up "matter of national security" and a mission for the Department of Defense. In short bursts of outrage, he yelled threats at officers. At another point, he offered them gum. Nineteen Albuquerque and state police officers, including tactical officers and K-9 units, responded to the scene of Boyd's illegal campsite, many surrounding him with weapons drawn before it appeared, according to a police video, that he might surrender. "I'll put my hands on my head; I'm not a criminal" said the 38-year-old Boyd, who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. Moments later, he was fatally shot after police deployed a smoke bomb and authorities say he brandished his knives. (9/17)

The Associated Press: Oklahoma’s First New Abortion Clinic In 40 Years Opens Doors
Despite facing some of the nation’s strictest anti-abortion laws, a Kansas-based foundation opened a new facility in Oklahoma City — the first new abortion provider in the state in 40 years. The Trust Women South Wind Women’s Center welcomed the first patients last week to its clinic on the city’s south side. Six licensed physicians are providing services there, including abortions, OB-GYN care, family planning, adoption and emergency contraception. (Murphy, 9/16)

Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent operating program of the Kaiser Family Foundation. (c) 2016 Kaiser Health News. All rights reserved.

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