Issues

By Henry Miller, M.S., M.D. and John J. Cohrssen President Joe Biden’s recent Executive Order 14036 contains initiatives intended to lower drug prices for patients, create more competition to increase wages for workers, promote innovation, and foster economic growth. As part of it, on Sept. 9 Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra proposed additional legislative and administrative actions. The drug price-reduction legislative proposals are perennials; their inclusion reflects both their popularity and the difficulty in attaining them. Two executive order proposals – one to import cheaper...

The delta variant has wreaked havoc. This week, the U.S. reported a seven-day average of more than 146,000 daily cases . In total, COVID-19 has killed more than 660,000 Americans since the start of the pandemic. Thankfully, the rate of increase appears to be falling in many areas, compared to the surges in July and August. But significant damage has already been done. Much of this carnage could have been avoided if the Food and Drug Administration had accelerated approvals of...

The Biden administration's "Comprehensive Plan for Addressing High Drug Prices," released last week, paints a vivid picture of the difficulties patients face affording their medicines. "Americans pay too much for prescription drugs," the report notes. "Many Americans do not take medications as prescribed because of their cost." How does the administration intend to ease their financial burden? By calling on Congress to give the federal government the ability to essentially dictate drug prices. Lowering drug prices by fiat may be popular. But it would represent...

There is continuing confusion, and even consternation, over what seem to be disparate policies, recommendations and mandates emerging in response to the Delta-driven surge of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations in much of the country. Masks or no masks? Vaccine mandates versus voluntary vaccination? Proof of vaccination for admission to bars and entertainment venues? The Zeitgeist is nicely captured by this Saturday Night Live sketch earlier this summer on the CDC’s seemingly ever-changing mask policy: In fact, the patchwork of policies and what some have derided as “moving the...

Given the abundance of readily available, free, effective (albeit imperfect) vaccines for many months, why are we seeing a surge in COVID cases and hospitalizations? Let's examine the three primary factors that dictate the severity of an outbreak of a viral illness. The United States is in the throes of a surge of serious infections with the COVID-19 Delta variant. The seven-day average of COVID-19 new admissions to hospitals nationwide has exceeded 11,000 for the past few weeks, overwhelming healthcare capacity...

As part of their $3.5 trillion budget plan, Democrats hope to expand Medicare to include, among other additions, coverage for dental benefits by 2028. It's a dream progressives have been pursuing for years. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., called for the changes in his 2016 and 2020 presidential campaign platforms. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., recently said she's "all for" expansion. But adding dental coverage to traditional Medicare is imprudent and unnecessary. In the long run, it could even reduce seniors' ability to access quality dental care—if...

Biden Plan May Require 2/3 of American Workforce to Either Get Vaccinated or Weekly COVID-19 Tests President Biden laid out a six-step plan to control the spread of the highly infectious coronavirus Delta variant and get more Americans vaccinated against COVID-19. “We have the tools to combat the virus,” he said during a press conference today at the White House. “If we can come together as a country and use those tools… we can, and we will, turn the tide on COVID-19.” ....

This crisis was avoidable. By showing no sense of urgency to approve COVID-19 shots for children under 12, the Food and Drug Administration has left children vulnerable — not just to the virus but to the emotional and social harm caused by missing in-person interactions with their teachers and peers. The shots could have been approved by now if not for the FDA's decision last month to require six months of clinical trial data on the effect of Pfizer-BioNTech's and Moderna's COVID-19 shots...

The United States is not coping well with the current surge of COVID-19 infections. Coronavirus-related hospitalizations nationwide surpassed 100,000 last week for only the second time in the pandemic, overwhelming caregiver capacity in several states. The worst situation is in intensive care units , which care for the sickest patients with highly specialized medical staff who are in short supply and are becoming progressively burned out as the pandemic drags on. The result is that in many parts of the country, patients needing to be...

The Congressional Budget Office just released an analysis of House Democrats' effort to impose price controls on prescription drugs, H.R. 3 -- the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act. The CBO's chief finding is grim. By drastically limiting pharmaceutical revenue, H.R. 3 would starve scientists of the funding they need to research and develop new medicines. The result is that dozens of treatments and cures -- therapies that could save and enhance people's lives -- would never be invented. In other words, Democrats are...

Watch Dr. Wayne Winegarden, director of PRI’s Center for Medical Economics and Innovation, discuss his recent study showing how a two-part drug pricing system would ensure prices more accurately reflect how patients value drugs with Scripps National News. The report aired on 60 television stations in 42 markets across the country reaching 31% of U.S. TV households. https://youtu.be/AK1CIGa-w5c...

The study of genetics has always been an attempt to understand our biologically determined fate. Many of us know of families with a predisposition to maladies like heart disease or breast cancer. There are many kinds of interventions that can modulate the effects of our genetic endowment, whether directly (as in highly sophisticated gene therapy for genetic diseases) or pharmaceutical treatments, such as human growth hormone for growth hormone deficiency. But even when such targeted interventions aren't possible, we can modulate...

"Everyday low prices" are coming to health care. Walmart recently launched its own private-label analog insulin, a synthetic form of the hormone that's been genetically modified to be released rapidly or slowly, depending on a per- son's needs. It will be manufactured by pharmaceutical giant Novo Nordisk – but costs 75% less than brand-name analog insulin. The deal is obviously good for people with diabetes, who have long clamored for more affordable insulin. And Wal- mart and Novo Nordisk wouldn't have...

President Joe Biden has finally figured out how to get Americans onto the Obamacare exchanges — by paying them. The administration recently congratulated itself after 2.5 million Americans signed up for plans through the government-run marketplaces during a newly created Special Enrollment Period that closed August 15. But these figures don't reflect newfound enthusiasm for Obamacare. The numbers are the result of more generous federal subsidies enacted in April as part of the American Rescue Plan Act. Through next year, those who make more than 400% of the poverty level, or...

By Henry I. Miller, M.S., M.D. and Sheeva Azma, MS In spite of the wide availability of highly effective COVID-19 vaccines, only about half of eligible Americans are fully vaccinated. Partly as a result of that "vaccine hesitancy," the United States is experiencing a fourth wave of COVID-19 cases, with over 160,000 on August 18th, more than an order of magnitude higher than in mid-June. Deaths, a lagging indicator, have more than doubled since mid-July. Hospitals and healthcare providers in the...

Medical devices are something of an orphan sister to the glamour of drugs, but they include some of the genuine miracles of modern medicine, particularly for seniors: Pacemakers, artificial joints, insulin pumps, and CT, MRI, and radiotherapy machines are just a few examples. The United States is currently the global leader in medical device innovation, and it is one of the few major industries that both boasts a net trade surplus and is a job creator. The sector employs 400,000...

On September 14, the people of California will have the chance—in a recall election—to oust Governor Gavin Newsom. His record over his more than two and a half years in power is checkered. Nowhere is that clearer than on health policy. Early in the pandemic, Newsom instituted some of America's most draconian policies: shutting down schools, shuttering business, and essentially locking people in their homes. What good did that do the people of California? The state has experienced over 4 million cases of COVID-19 and...