Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by America's 340B Hospitals — CDC blames e-cigs for rise in youth tobacco use | FDA cracks down on dietary supplements | More drug pricing hearings on tap

Welcome to Monday's Overnight Health Care.

It's the beginning of another shutdown watch as talks on a border deal stall. Meanwhile, tobacco use among youth is increasing because of e-cigarettes, and the FDA is cracking down on the booming industry of dietary supplements.  



E-cigarettes are erasing progress made in fight against youth tobacco use

Nearly 5 million middle and high school students were current users of some type of tobacco product in 2018, up from 3.6 million in 2017, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That increase is mainly due to the popularity of e-cigarettes. High school students are also smoking e-cigarettes more frequently.

The number of high school students using e-cigarettes more than 20 days in the past 30 days has increased 20 percent from 2017 to 28 percent in 2018.

Why it matters: The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) says there is an 'epidemic' of e-cigarette use among kids, threatening to get another generation of Americans addicted to nicotine.

The FDA is in the middle of considering a regulatory crackdown on e-cigarette companies, and the warnings from Commissioner Scott Gottlieb have grown more dire as more data emerges.

"I fear this trend will continue in 2019, forcing us to make some tough decisions about the regulatory status of e-cigarettes," said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb in a statement.


Reaction: The American Cancer Society says it's important the FDA recognizes it as a public health epidemic. But "more must be done."

"The FDA must exercise its full regulatory authority over all tobacco products, especially e-cigarettes, if we are going to curb this growing youth crisis and reverse this extremely troubling trend," said Lisa Lacasse, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

Read more here.



FDA to crack down on dietary supplements

The Food and Drug Administration is launching a crackdown on the growing dietary supplements industry, warning that some of the products are being illegally marketed with unproven claims.

The agency sent 12 warning letters on Monday to companies selling dietary supplements with "unproven claims to prevent, treat or cure Alzheimer's disease, as well as a number of other serious diseases and health conditions."

Scott Gottlieb, the FDA commissioner, said that the warning letters are just the first step in a larger effort to increase oversight of dietary supplements.

He noted that since passage of a 1994 law regulating the supplements, the industry has grown from a $4 billion industry to one worth more than $40 billion industry with over 50,000 products.

Bigger picture: This is not the only industry Gottlieb is cracking down on. As we discussed above he is notably also stepping up oversight of e-cigarettes.

More on the move here



Democrat Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetExpanding our health force can save lives and create jobs simultaneously How Congress is preventing a Medicare bankruptcy during COVID-19 Tom Cotton rips NY Times for Chinese scientist op-ed criticizing US coronavirus response MORE hits Medicare for all as 'bad opening offer'

Centrist Democrats are starting to push back on the progressive calls for Medicare for all.

"Remember when President Obama said, 'If you like your insurance, you can keep your insurance.' And then a few people in America actually lost their insurance because of the way that the plan worked. Now what the Democrats are saying is, 'If you like your insurance, we're going to take it away from you,'" said Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet (Colo.) on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday.

Political context: The comments from Bennet, who is considering a presidential run, illustrate that more centrist Democrats think the progressive wing is going too far in wanting to eliminate private insurance and give government health insurance to everyone.

His plan gives people the option of buying into government insurance, without forcing them to.

Read more here.



On tap for tomorrow:

The House Ways and Means Committee holds a hearing on reducing drug prices. There have already been hearings in the House and Senate on drug pricing, and both parties are committed to saying they want lower drug prices. But it's not clear if these hearings are treading any new ground, and Republicans and Democrats are still divided over what the best solution is. No drug company executives are testifying at this hearing -- that comes Feb. 26, in front of the Senate Finance Committee.  



At no cost to taxpayers, the 340B program is critical to the health of our patients because it allows hospitals serving vulnerable communities to address the health care needs of their communities, including providing free or substantially discounted prescriptions to low-income and rural patients, operating free clinics, treating patients with substance use disorders, and sustaining access to other lifesaving services for patients. Weakening this vital program will hurt patients. Learn more.


What we're reading


They were jailed for miscarriages. Now, campaign aims to end abortion ban. (The New York Times)

False lead: Senator's offer to help patient import cheap insulin goes nowhere (Kaiser Health News)

Unvaccinated teens are fact-checking their parents -- and trying to get shots on their own (The Washington Post)

Hospital mergers improve health? Evidence shows the opposite (The New York Times)


State by state

A top Trump health administrator faces test from newly elected Democrats (The Wall Street Journal)

Alaska's backlog of Medicaid applications numbers nearly 16K (Associated Press)

Utah's legislature gives final approval to prop 3 replacement bill (sltrib.com)


From The Hill's opinion page:

The inconvenient truth behind Medicare for all