Overnight Health Care: Trump to meet with vaping industry as he considers flavors ban | Ebola vaccine gets first approval in Europe | Google has collected health data on millions of Americans through new partnership: report

Overnight Health Care: Trump to meet with vaping industry as he considers flavors ban | Ebola vaccine gets first approval in Europe | Google has collected health data on millions of Americans through new partnership: report
© Getty Images

Welcome to Monday’s Overnight Health Care.

A vaccine for Ebola finally gained approval, President TrumpDonald John TrumpLawmakers prep ahead of impeachment hearing Democrats gear up for high-stakes Judiciary hearing Warren says she made almost M from legal work over past three decades MORE says he will be meeting with vaping industry representatives, Google has reportedly been mining patient info from one of the country’s largest health systems, and marijuana advocates say the vaping illness should lead to regulatory changes.

We’ll start with vaping:

ADVERTISEMENT

Trump to meet with vaping industry as he considers flavors ban

President Trump on Monday said he will meet with representatives of the e-cigarette industry as he considers a ban on the sale of flavored vaping products.

"Will be meeting with representatives of the Vaping industry, together with medical professionals and individual state representatives, to come up with an acceptable solution to the Vaping and e-cigarette dilemma," he tweeted Monday morning. “Children's health & safety, together with jobs, will be a focus!"

Monday marked exactly two months since Trump and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar first announced their intention to clear the market of every non-tobacco vaping flavor. There’s been a lot of talk, but no action. A White House spokesperson declined to elaborate on the tweet. 

If Trump is planning to meet with industry and health groups, that could seemingly delay action on any upcoming rules. A regulation recently cleared the White House Office of Management and Budget, but has not yet been released to the public. 

Trump was slated to meet with industry representatives, vaping advocates and conservative groups in September, but that meeting was called off and has not been rescheduled.  

Last Friday, Trump told reporters the White House would release a “big paper” on the topic this week. Recent comments from administration officials, and Trump himself, have public health advocates worried the regulation will be watered down from the full flavor ban Trump initially talked about. 

ADVERTISEMENT

The American Academy of Pediatrics: 

Read more here.

Ebola vaccine gets first approval in Europe

European health authorities gave the first ever green light to an Ebola vaccine on Monday, marking a major breakthrough in the quest to prevent exposure to the deadly disease. 

The European Commission adopted a recommendation to grant marketing authorization for the Ervebo vaccine, manufactured by Merck. The decision comes less than a month after European regulators recommended the drug’s approval.

The approval is being hailed as a historic milestone.

“Finding a vaccine as soon as possible against this terrible virus has been a priority for the international community ever since Ebola hit West Africa five years ago. Today's decision is therefore a major step forward in saving lives in Africa and beyond,” said Vytenis Andriukaitis, the European Commission official in charge of health and food safety.

The vaccine is already being used under emergency guidelines for the current outbreak in Congo to protect people at risk of infection, such as health care workers. The vaccine has an effective rate of 97.5 percent, according to the World Health Organization.

There are over 3,000 confirmed Ebola cases in Congo, and the outbreak has killed more than 2,100 people.  

Read more on the vaccine here.

Google has collected health data on millions of Americans through new partnership: report

This story certainly caused some raised eyebrows in the health and tech worlds on Monday: Google has partnered with one of the largest health care systems in the country to collect data on millions of American patients, The Wall Street Journal reported

The venture, called Project Nightingale, allows Google to obtain access to personal health care data from Americans across 21 states through its partnership with Ascension, people familiar with the matter told the Journal, which also relied on internal documents for its report.

ADVERTISEMENT

The information to which Google has access includes lab results, doctor diagnoses, hospitalization records and health histories with names and date of births. Neither patients nor doctors were informed that Google was collecting the data, according to the Journal, and at least 150 Google employees have access to the information.

Ascension, based in St. Louis, is the second-largest health care system in the country. Google started the project with Ascension last year with the goal of using the data to create new software based on artificial intelligence and machine learning for patients to make their own recommendations for their care.

Read more here.

Vaping illness spurs calls for federal marijuana changes

Marijuana advocates are seizing on the recent outbreak of vaping illnesses to renew calls for clear federal rules on cannabis. 

Federal health officials have pointed to black market THC products as a likely culprit of a mysterious vaping illness that has sickened more than 2,000 people across the country and caused at least 39 deaths.

Advocates argue federal marijuana regulation, including changing rules to allow more and better research, will make people safer. They want the federal government to do something, whether it’s regulating marijuana on the federal level, or stronger enforcement of state laws to establish some sort of consistency. 

ADVERTISEMENT

And that’s the problem: Marijuana is illegal at the federal level, so companies are left to navigate a patchwork of state laws for their own marketplaces. There are 11 states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use, and 33 that allow medical marijuana. 

Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said while most of the illnesses have been linked to illicit THC vapes, the agency can’t rule out any “infiltration” of tainted products into state-licensed marijuana dispensaries. 

“States that have dispensaries set their own regulatory measures” in terms of documentation and ingredient testing, Schuchat said, which makes it difficult for the federal government to track them.

Read more on what some states are doing here.

Strategists say Warren 'Medicare for All' plan could appeal to centrists

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenBiden: 'I'd add' Warren to my list of potential VP picks Warren says she made almost M from legal work over past three decades How can top Democrats run the economy with no business skill? MORE’s “Medicare for All” funding plan has come under fire from her rivals for the Democratic nomination, but some in her own party say her framing of the issue could ease the concerns of centrist voters.

The Massachusetts senator and leading Democratic presidential candidate said when she released her funding plan earlier this month that it “doesn’t raise middle-class taxes by one penny.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The plan has stoked controversy, with some critics questioning Warren's claims that it will avoid raising taxes on the middle class.

Some Democratic strategists say Warren's approach could be a way to soothe voters' worries about Medicare for All while advancing key progressive ideas.“The fact that she has devised a plan that would benefit middle class Americans without taxing [them] is certainly reassuring to a lot of people,” said Brad Bannon, a Democratic strategist who isn’t working for any of the presidential campaigns.

“What Warren’s plan does is giving voters bold change without raising middle class taxes,” Bannon added.

On the other hand: Others say they are concerned the plan won’t hold up to attacks from rivals, inside and outside the party. Jim Kessler, executive vice president for policy at the center-left think tank Third Way, said he thinks Warren tried to ease people’s concerns with her funding plan, but “there’s a lot of skepticism out there by reasonable people.” 

“It needs to hold up to scrutiny and I’m not sure it can,” he said.

Read more on how people view Warren's plan here.

What we’re reading

Voters Say Congress Needs To Curb Drug Prices, But Are Lawmakers Listening? (Kaiser Health News)

More than ever, Democratic presidential hopefuls want to take on pharma. Here’s how they’d do it (Stat News)

Juul’s vaping products should be completely pulled off the market, says ex-FDA chief Gottlieb (CNBC)

Doctors, hospitals take up arms against Democrats' health care changes (NBC News

State by state

Montana's Medicaid expansion work requirements delayed (Associated Press)

Despite Challenges To ACA, Florida Enrollment Rises (NPR)

Oregon doctor accused of implanting 100+ unnecessary pacemakers (Portland Tribune)

From The Hill’s opinion page

We should do something different and honor the vets who served us