Overnight Health Care: Dem seeks changes to Pelosi drug pricing bill | Trump officials shift family planning funds from Planned Parenthood | CVS halts sales of Zantac over cancer concerns

Overnight Health Care: Dem seeks changes to Pelosi drug pricing bill | Trump officials shift family planning funds from Planned Parenthood | CVS halts sales of Zantac over cancer concerns
© Greg Nash

Welcome to Monday's Overnight Health Care, where it's recess but there's still a bunch of health care news. 

We have a Title X update and new concerns over a carcinogen in Zantac, but we'll start with the latest on drug pricing.


House Progressive circulates letter seeking changes to Pelosi drug pricing bill

Rep. Lloyd DoggettLloyd Alton DoggettGilead sets price for five-day coronavirus treatment at ,120 The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Rep. Mark Takano says Congress must extend worker benefits expiring in July; WHO reports record spike in global cases Exclusive investigation on the coronavirus pandemic: Where was Congress? MORE (D-Texas) is outlining changes he wants made to Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Pelosi70 progressive groups call for next Foreign Affairs chair to reflect 'progressive realism' House to vote next week on ridding Capitol of Confederate statues Eye on gavel, Wasserman Schultz proposes panel on racial inequality in spending MORE's signature drug pricing bill. 

Two of the big changes he wants: 

  • Increasing the minimum number of drugs eligible for negotiation up from 25, ideally allowing for negotiation on all drugs. 
  • Taking tougher steps to address high launch prices for new drugs coming onto the market. 

Why it matters: Doggett's could influence many other progressive House Democrats because he is the sponsor of an alternative bill to lower drug prices that has been endorsed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus. 


"After reviewing her plan, I find much to merit support but some significant limitations that require improvement," Doggett wrote in a "Dear Colleague" letter to the 129 House Democrats who have co-sponsored his alternative drug pricing bill. 

Read the full letter here.

Read our story here.


Title X update: 

The Trump administration says it has reallocated $34 million in federal funds given up by Planned Parenthood and other providers that did not want to comply with new abortion restrictions on a federal family planning program. 

The money will instead go to 50 grantees that decided to remain in the Title X family planning grant program, which funds birth control and other reproductive health services for millions of low-income women and men. 

Planned Parenthood, and some states run by Democrats, including Illinois, New York, and Oregon, left the program this summer after the Trump administration began enforcing new rules that ban providers from referring women for abortions.

Critics say the changes are a "gag rule" that prevent providers from having honest discussions with their patients about abortion. 

While Title X funds don't cover abortion, the Trump administration argues federal funds should not support organizations that support abortion as a method of family planning. 

Planned Parenthood, which is suing over the rules, had served more than 40 percent of Title X patients, and its departure left a large gap in the program. 

The Department of Health and Human Services said Monday reallocating the money would help fill "service gaps left by the grantees that chose to leave the Title X program rather than comply with the law."

The funding was awarded to grantees in Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Pennsylvania, and other states.  

But the reallocation of funding won't have any impact on states that no longer have Title X providers, like Utah. 

Read more on the moves here.  


CVS halts sales of heartburn drug Zantac over cancer concerns

CVS is halting sales of the over-the-counter heartburn drug Zantac and its generic equivalent because of concerns they contain low levels of a cancer-causing chemical. 

The drugstore chain said in a statement over the weekend that it is taking the step "out of an abundance of caution" due to a recent alert from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

The FDA warned that Zantac, which contains ranitidine, could contain low levels of the carcinogen nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA). 

CVS noted that the drug has not been recalled and "the FDA is not recommending that patients stop taking ranitidine at this time." 

"However, customers who purchased these products can return them to CVS for a refund," it added. 

Sanofi, the company that makes Zantac, said in a statement that the FDA has found the amounts of the carcinogen NDMA in its drug "barely exceed amounts found in common foods."

"We are working closely with the FDA and are conducting our own robust investigations to ensure we continue to meet the highest quality safety and quality standards," the company said.

Read more here


What we're reading

With the Affordable Care Act's future in doubt, evidence grows that it has saved lives (The Washington Post


Flu vaccine selections may be an ominous sign for this winter (Stat News)

Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenIn politics, as in baseball, it ain't over till it's over Trump defends Roger Stone move: He was target of 'Witch Hunt' Democrats blast Trump for commuting Roger Stone: 'The most corrupt president in history' MORE facing skepticism over 'Medicare For All' on campaign trail (The Washington Examiner)  


State by state

Purdue Pharma family profits from sale of ski resorts in regions plagued by opioid addiction (Washington Post)


The Hill op-eds

We must treat the obesity epidemic like the public health crisis it is 

What if we had a mathematical equation for cancer?