Articles Posted in Conflicts of Interest

FDA-Logo-300x167Members of Congress, as usual, are racing to meet a deadline: This time, to determine the funding for the federal Food and Drug Administration, an agency with some of the most consequential responsibilities affecting Americans’ health.

In their furious political and financial machinations, though, lawmakers aren’t asking the tough, critical question about the FDA’s leading revenue source:

Is it a good idea for Big Pharma and medical device makers to pay most of the cost to run the nation’s watchdog of these giant, wealthy industries?

minnnursesstrike-150x150The coronavirus pandemic has not only caused sustained damage to the U.S. health workforce, it also apparently has accelerated a looming crisis in nursing care, as has been shown by a three-day strike by 15,000 private-sector nurses in Minnesota.

Theirs was the largest such walkout by nurses and it sought to underscore how pay inequities, staffing shortages, exhaustion, working conditions, and other management-employee issues strike at the heart of the quality, safety, and excellence of direct patient care, the Washington Post and other media outlets reported.

As Kelly Kelley Anaas, an intensive care unit nurse for 14 years at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, told USA Today of the strains confronted by some of medicine’s most crucial frontline caregivers:

cfpbchartnursinghomecost-300x226Two federal regulatory agencies have rebuked nursing homes and their debt collectors, warning them that they may be breaking the law with sketchy efforts to make loved ones and friends pay for the care of sick, injured, and debilitated residents in long-term facilities.

Bottom line: A lot of the forms that you may sign for a loved one as they are admitted to a nursing home are straight-up illegal if they purport to make you responsible for paying the facility’s bills.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has conducted hearings and issued a report as well as putting out a joint letter with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the agency with oversight of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

juullogo1-300x142Parents, educators, politicians, federal regulators, and advocates for Americans’ better health all should pause and consider the prime takeaways from a company’s willingness to strike a $439 million settlement with three dozen states figuratively shutting a barn door long after the nag has bolted.

Hint: Big Tobacco is relentless in its efforts to addict regular folks to products proven to destroy their health — and the financial payoff for doing so continues to be so potentially lucrative that most of us can hardly imagine.

Let’s back up just a bit for the basic facts: Juul, a San Francisco-based firm that federal officials have blamed for almost single-handedly creating the e-cigarette and vaping fad in recent years, reached a deal with 33 states and a U.S. territory to pay almost half a billion dollars over the way it marketed its products to teenagers and young adults.

Abbottlogo-300x77Big Pharma loves to blast away at opposition lawyers and their clients, criticizing them for seeking justice in the civil system over claims of significant harms. But, c’mon, man, as a certain top political leader likes to say to express his flabbergasted skepticism.

Wealthy corporations and their counsel marshal enormous, costly legal resources to bully, intimidate, and just bury in paperwork plaintiffs in civil cases, as the New York Times has reported. The newspaper has detailed how this almost standard operating procedure by huge law firms has complicated the nation’s effort to safeguard a critical foodstuff for the tiniest, most vulnerable among us — infants needing formula, especially specialized varieties.

The ferocious tactics by formula makers, notably the purportedly family friendly pharmaceutical company Abbott Laboratories, has shielded the industry and the company well but to the detriment of consumers learning important information about a widely used product that was the subject of many lawsuits but that stayed out of the spotlight for years, the newspaper reported:

PrEP-pills-150x150While increasing numbers of Americans tell pollsters that they are forgoing religion and seeing its practice diminish in importance in their lives, those with religious fervor are finding a federal judiciary willing to delve into the complexity of faith and medicine in deeply polarizing ways.

The looming midterm elections, pollsters say, already have been upended by the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of a half-century of settled law in turning back to the states critical decisions about women’s reproductive health and the allowance of abortions, including in cases involving rape and incest.

A federal judge in Texas with demonstrated extreme views has further stoked the increasing fires over religion and health care by ruling unconstitutional the process by which Obamacare decides what kinds of preventive health care must be covered by private health insurance, as the New York Times and other media outlets have reported.

eats-150x150The Biden Administration this month will tackle one of the major, persistent challenges that perplexes and damages the health and well-being of most regular folks: what they eat, as well as their regular sources of food.

The scheduled Sept. 28 White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health will be only the second of its kind in modern history and the first in almost a half a century, NPR has reported, adding that it will be a timely and notable event. As Dariush Mozaffarian, a cardiologist and dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, told the broadcast news reporters:

“We’re really in a nutrition crisis in this country.”

fingersxd-150x150The quality of medical-scientific information is strained — and patients should know this, be warned, and watch for ways to protect themselves from bungled communication, bluster, hype, misinformation, and disinformation.

Although regular folks may have unprecedented access via the internet to resources on medical services and developments, a trio of recent news articles underscore the importance of the familiar warning Caveat emptor (buyer beware):

smokingjoint-150x150Generation Z and young millennials have become the nation’s leading group of stoners, setting record highs for their use of marijuana, hallucinogenic drugs, nicotine, and booze.

This has occurred even as federal regulators have gotten called out for failing to crack down, after chest-thumping promises to do so, on the noxious but popular practice among the young of vaping.

The National Institutes of Health has conducted its annual “Monitoring the Future” survey of behaviors and attitudes of young adults since 1975, providing a much-watched, longitudinal snapshot of the lives and health of Americans ages 19 to 30. Its results this go-round are unsettling to those who monitor substance use and abuse in this critical age group, as the Washington Post reported:

faucipic-150x150This fall our nation will go once more into the breach, with federal officials hoping that another big push for vaccinations against the coronavirus and flu will stave off the deadly surges of contagions that have caused the fundamental health measure of life expectancy to plummet in a historic way.

Still, the announced retirement of Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the nation’s foremost fighters against infectious illnesses — and the sharply divided reactions to his planned end of year departure from a half century of public service — continue to show how fraught vaccinations and public health have become in the U.S.

Fauci, who joined the National Institutes of Health in 1968 and was appointed the director of its infectious disease branch in 1984, has advised every president since Ronald Reagan — seven in all. He became a political lightning rod twice in instances of illnesses with enormous medical effect, with the outbreak of HIV-AIDS and the coronavirus pandemic.

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