Overnight Health Care — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — FDA threatens to ban some new e-cig products | Azar to deliver speech on drug prices next week

Overnight Health Care — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — FDA threatens to ban some new e-cig products | Azar to deliver speech on drug prices next week
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Welcome to Friday's edition of Overnight Health Care.

The Senate left town on Thursday night and won't be back until after the midterms. Republicans secured a deal on dozens of President TrumpDonald John TrumpMichelle Obama says not always easy to live up to "we go high" Georgia certifies elections results in bitterly fought governor's race Trump defends border deployment amid fresh scrutiny MORE's nominees on their way out the door.

But health care will continue to be a major issue on the campaign trail. Democrats are hammering Republicans at every possible opportunity about their record on pre-existing conditions.

Republicans are trying hard to blunt these attacks, and are releasing new ads seemingly every day. They are also trying to deflect the focus from pre-existing conditions onto "Medicare for all."

Meanwhile, HHS is continuing its fight with e-cigarette manufacturers, which is where we'll start.  

 

FDA threatens to ban sales of some new e-cigarette products

Trump administration officials on Friday warned e-cigarette companies that some of their products may be illegal and could be removed from the market.

The Food and Drug Administration sent warning letters to 21 manufacturers and importers, representing 40 different products, asking the companies to show they have not violated an exemption that allows vaping products to continue being sold while the agency figures out how best to regulate them.

The letters represent another step in the continued efforts of health officials to crack down on underage e-cigarette use.

Why the warning letters? FDA thinks companies are ignoring the agency's policy that allows old vaping products to stay on the market until 2022, so long as the companies don't introduce any new features or flavors.

There's a pattern: FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has changed his stance on e-cigarettes in recent months. Last spring, the agency loosened regulations on the products. Gottlieb said he wanted to promote innovation of products that were key to helping adults quit smoking traditional cigarettes. But as vaping among teenagers has skyrocketed, Gottlieb has clamped down. He recently launched a major push to stop e-cigarette sales to minors, accusing manufacturers and retailers of contributing to an "epidemic" of use among kids and teenagers.

Read more about the warnings here.

 

 

FDA's warning letters come on the heels of a Thursday Washington Post op-ed written by Gottlieb and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.

"It is crucial that e-cigarettes do not become an on-ramp for children to become addicted to nicotine," Azar and Gottlieb wrote. "[W]e know that the steps we have taken thus far are not enough."

The two officials said HHS is "actively reconsidering" their policy that allows certain e-cigarettes -- particularly the products with flavors that might appeal to children -- can remain on the market until 2022.  

 

Dave Brat released an ad Friday saying he has "provided help to Virginia families suffering from opioid addiction and pre-existing conditions."

The Republican House lawmaker is taking a lot of heat from his opponent for his record on pre-existing conditions. Abigail Spanberger argues Brat's vote to repeal ObamaCare and replace it with the American Health Care act was a vote against pre-existing conditions protections.

But Brat says the AHCA has those protections. (In reality, it would have allowed states to apply for waivers to allow insurers to raise premiums based on health status.)

He doubled down Friday, tweeting: "Democrats complain that folks with preexisting conditions paying more for insurance is discrimination, but under Obamacare all Americans saw increases up to 150 percent over five years. Who's discriminating against whom? I'm for more affordable insurance alternatives. Democrats are not." 
Brat's just the latest Republican on the defensive over health care.

Watch the ad here.

 

What to watch on Monday:

Azar is scheduled to give a speech highlighting the administration's drug pricing reforms, and he could announce a new proposal to require drug companies to post their list prices in consumer ads.  

 

SPONSORED CONTENT - COALITION FOR AFFORDABLE PRESCRIPTION DRUGS

Without drug rebates, Medicare Part D premiums will rise by 52%. Seniors should pay less for their health care, not more. Learn more at affordableprescriptiondrugs.org.

 

What we're reading

In public, lawmakers scold drug distributors. Come campaign season, they accept their cash willingly (Stat)

Dementia and guns: when should doctors broach the topic? (Kaiser Health News)

New rule: tougher scrutiny on legal immigrants using assistance brings widespread fear (Houston Chronicle)

Sloan Kettering researchers correct the record by revealing company ties (The New York Times)

 

State by state

Feds charge 5 New York doctors with prescribing 8.5 million opioid pills (NBC News)

Maryland health officials report rise in overdose deaths (WBAL)

Nebraska town hall on Medicaid expansion draws supporters, opponents (KETV)