Overnight Healthcare

Overnight Health Care — Presented by National Taxpayers Union —Dem wants more changes to Pelosi drug pricing bill | Ebola outbreak wanes, but funding lags | Johnson & Johnson recalls batch of baby powder after asbestos traces found

Welcome to Friday's Overnight Health Care.

The Ebola outbreak may finally be slowing, but so is funding. Another House progressive Democrat is calling for changes to drug pricing legislation, and two big name companies announced recalls.  

We'll start with the latest in the drug pricing fight...


Progressive seeks more changes to drug pricing bill

Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) is keeping up his push to make Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) drug pricing bill stronger. He sent a letter, obtained by The Hill, to colleagues on Friday outlining changes he wants to see during next week's markup in the House Ways and Means Committee and "if necessary, during Floor consideration."

His proposed changes include:

  • Expanding the number of drugs subject to negotiation
  • Providing savings on drugs for people without insurance
  • Cracking down further on launch prices for new drugs

Doggett and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the co-chair of the Progressive Caucus, sounded a positive note after Jayapal's amendment to expand price spike protections to people in employer-sponsored insurance plans was adopted on Thursday in the House Education and Labor Committee.

House Democratic leaders earlier this week made changes to their signature drug pricing bill, pulling it slightly to the left. The moves won some support but other progressives like Doggett want more.



Ebola outbreak wanes, but funding lags

It's a good news, bad news with the Ebola outbreak. Global health officials are cautiously optimistic that an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in Congo is slowly coming under control after more than a year spent battling one of the most complex epidemics in modern history.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Congolese health ministry said Friday that only 15 new cases of the Ebola virus had been identified in North Kivu and Ituri provinces in the last week. This marks the fourth straight week in which case counts have declined. As recently as April, the health ministry was reporting more than 100 new cases per week.

But money is hard to come by: Public health officials have warned that those scrambling to stop the outbreak are running low on money. The WHO has said it and partner groups need $394 million to continue running the response at a sufficient level through December, but that just $126 million has been received. 

The WHO has asked wealthy nations to contribute $66 million for neighboring countries to prepare to fight the virus if it jumps international borders. Of that, only $4.5 million has been funded.

More on the challenges dealing with the outbreak here.


Johnson & Johnson recalls batch of baby powder after asbestos traces found

Johnson & Johnson is recalling a single lot of its Johnson's Baby Powder after small amounts of asbestos were found in a bottle purchased online.

The company said it was initiating the recall "out of an abundance of caution." It is working with the Food and Drug Administration, which tested the product, and has begun to investigate how and when the product was contaminated.

The lot consists of 33,000 bottles. Customers who have a bottle in the affected lot are being urged to discontinue using it, and to contact the company for more information.

J&J insists its talc products are safe and noted the traces of asbestos were only found in one bottle, and were minute. However, the recall is sure to draw new scrutiny to the safety concerns surrounding the company's talc products. 

Late last year, the company launched a national ad campaign defending itself following an investigation from Reuters that said the company knew for decades its talc baby powder contained traces of asbestos.

Read more about the recall here.


Drugmaker recalls heartburn drug Zantac over cancer concerns

The drugmaker Sanofi announced Friday that it is recalling the heartburn drug Zantac in the United States and Canada because of concerns it could contain low levels of a cancer-causing chemical. 

The company said in a statement that the recall was being conducted as a "precautionary measure."

In September, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an alert that Zantac, which contains ranitidine, could contain low levels of the carcinogen nitrosodimethylamine. 

Some retailers, like CVS, then stopped selling the drug. Sanofi said it has decided to recall the drug "due to inconsistencies in preliminary test results."

The company said that "evaluations are ongoing."

Read more here



What we're reading

How pending decision on ObamaCare could upend 2020 campaign (The New York Times

With European backing, the world is on the brink of the first approved Ebola vaccine (Stat News)

It's time to choose a health plan. Prepare yourself for the cost. (The New York Times)  

Massive marketing muscle pushes 3D mammograms, despite no evidence they save more lives, investigation shows (Kaiser Health News)


State by state

Pennsylvania's ACA health insurance marketplace plan rates to rise about 4 percent next year (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Massachusetts governor introduces new healthcare bill, proposes sweeping changes (The Boston Globe)

Judge summons drug CEOs for talks on sweeping opioid settlement (The New York Times)

CBD may be natural, but is it safe? (Stateline)