By Peter Sullivan - 03/15/16 07:00 PM EDT
CDC OPIOID GUIDELINES: Tuesday was the day for the long-awaited CDC opioid prescribing guidelines.
The guidelines caution doctors against prescribing powerful painkillers to relieve chronic, long-term pain. For the "vast majority" of patients, CDC Director Tom Frieden said, the risks of prescribing such drugs "will outweigh the benefits."
"More than 40 Americans die each day from prescription opioid overdoses. We must act now," Frieden said. "Overprescribing opioids -- largely for chronic pain -- is a key driver of America's drug-overdose epidemic."
The new CDC guidelines stress that other methods of treating pain should be preferred to opioids. When the drugs are used, it should be in the lowest possible doses, the agency said.
The recommendations have been controversial amid concerns they interfere with doctors' decision-making.
The American Medical Association said in a statement that it is "largely supportive" of the guidelines, but warned of "the potential effects of strict dosage and duration limits on patient care."
Frieden stressed that the final decision on prescribing drugs will remain with doctors. The guidelines are nonbinding. Read more here. http://bit.ly/1Ml79AU
DRUG INDUSTRY ADOPTS BUNKER MENTALITY The drug industry is going on the warpath after a year of bad headlines and stinging criticism from both parties.
When hundreds of drug company executives gathered in Washington last week, they repeatedly heard the same warning: We are under siege.
"Our industry has become an easy political target," Kenneth Frazier, the president and CEO of Merck & Co., said in remarks for the annual conference held by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).
The room remained silent as Frazier spoke with frustration about the "bad actors" he said have tarnished the industry's image over the last year.
Frazier didn't name names, but it was clear he was referring to the price-inflating tactics of both Valeant and Turing Pharmaceuticals, the latter of which has been defined by the unpredictable behavior of Martin Shkreli, its former CEO. Shkreli was criticized for appearing dismissive of lawmakers during testimony to a House panel last month. Read more here. http://bit.ly/22k0Vuu
DEMS HIT GOP FOR ABORTION HEARING: Senate Democrats are denouncing Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee for holding a hearing on abortion legislation while refusing to consider a Supreme Court nominee.
"While the Republicans on that committee say they won't take up the time to do their most important actual job, they were happy to spend their time this morning on their favorite hobby: do everything they can to turn back the clock on women's access to healthcare," said Sen. Patty MurrayPatty Murray'BernieCare' can save ObamaCare Senate Dems make Zika a campaign issue Rubio calls for lawmakers to return to DC, pass Zika funding MORE (D-Wash.).
The Judiciary Committee on Tuesday held a hearing on two abortion bills, one to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and one to add criminal penalties for medical providers who do not properly care for a baby born alive after a failed abortion.
"I'm sure it's frustrating for Senate Democrats who have praised the new Republican Senate for doing its job and passing major bipartisan legislation, to now have to follow Sen. Schumer's talking points to the opposite," Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellJuan Williams: Trump's race politics will destroy GOP Rank-and-file Republicans fear lame-duck vote on pricey funding bill Clinton, Trump sharpen attacks MORE (R-Ky.), said in response to Democrats' criticism. Read more here. http://bit.ly/1nMkwDZ
ON TAP TOMORROW:
The Senate Health Committee holds a markup of mental health legislation at 10 a.m.
The House Ways and Means Committee marks up budget savings bills, including a measure on improper ObamaCare payments, at 3 p.m.
WHAT WE'RE READING:
Republicans shed light on how they would change Medicaid (Morning Consult)
Can candidates really do anything about drug prices? (CNBC)
Medicaid sleuths descend on Puerto Rico to unearth mysteries of Zika (Stat)
IN THE STATES:
Planned Parenthood: Kentucky governor's suit 'hypocrisy' (Louisville Courier-Journal)
Controversial abortion bill halted in Tennessee (The Tennessean)
Why the governor thinks Louisiana will save $100 million on Medicaid expansion (Nola.com)
ICYMI FROM THE HILL:
Former EPA official: Agency did nothing wrong in Flint