becerra-150x150biden-150x150With the Biden Administration battling the coronavirus pandemic and Democrats in the throes of determining what could be big spending for major changes in the U.S. health care system, even the president’s biggest supporters are baffled why he still hasn’t nominated a commissioner to head the federal Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA, entrusted to safeguard the safety and quality of the nation’s prescription drugs, medical devices, and foodstuffs, has a huge lift in the best of times.

In the Biden administration’s 10 months, the agency — demoralized and banged up, big time, by the Trump Administration and its politicization of health matters across the board — has found itself in a relentless crossfire in areas in which the 18,000-employee organization holds sway.

cdcwalensky-150x150The battle against the coronavirus pandemic is further splintering Americans into brittle groups, segments familiar because they long have been components of the inequitable U.S. health care system — let’s call them the have nots, the have somes, the have much, and the won’ts.

Regulators have decided that those who have some protection with lifesaving vaccines are now eligible for more — a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine. It will be given six months after the original two-shot regimen was completed to people:

  • older than 65

portalmedrecord-300x124As doctors and hospitals switch to electronic medical record systems and try to amp up the business efficiency of their enterprises by opening online consumer portals, more patients may access their caregivers’ files on them, including  doctor notes that may be shocking in their inaccuracy.

Heather Gantzer, a doctor practicing at Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park, Minn., and immediate past chair of the American College of Physicians’ Board of Regents, told Cheryl Clark, a contributor to the MedPage Today medical news site:

“100% of medical records have errors. Some of them are nuisances, but some are really impactful and might make a huge difference for [example for] the person who was said to be on antibiotics” but was not.”

gymnaststestify-300x171Grownups got sordid reminders of how much work still must be done to protect the nation’s young from sexual exploitation, as top female gymnasts assailed the FBI and Olympic organizations for allowing the wanton predation of a serial criminal and the Boy Scouts offered yet another billion-dollar proposal to try to resolve tens of thousands of sexual abuse claims against the youth group.

The fierce, courageous, and emotional testimony by Aly Raisman, Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, and Maggie Nichols before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee (screenshot, right, courtesy Canadian Broadcast Co. video) received extensive media coverage. It reflected their fury at how supposedly elite law enforcement agents heard but ignored their charges against Larry Nassar, the former national women gymnastics team doctor who was convicted of an array of sexual abuse charges and will serve a life sentence in prison.

FBI agents ignored agency practices and policy, learning from multiple women of sexual crimes by Nassar and failing to act, misrepresenting what they were told, and later lying to colleagues and superiors about what Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) described as their “dereliction of duty,” “systematic organizational failure” and “gross failures” in the case.

drugselderly-150x150The nation’s nursing homes, battered by the coronavirus pandemic, are under more fire for their resurgent reliance on powerful and risky psychiatric drugs and shaky diagnoses of mental illness to treat elderly residents, as well as for the institutions’ inability to safeguard the old, sick, and injured in their care by ensuring their staff are vaccinated against Covid-19.

Facilities across the country have recorded a 70% spike in dubious designations of elderly residents as schizophrenic. This means they may be dosed with potent antipsychotic drugs, which, critics say, act akin to pharmaceutical restraints and can reduce the vulnerable to near vegetative states, the New York Times reported, based on its investigation of the issue.

The newspaper noted that federal regulators and mental health professionals have campaigned for years to get nursing homes and other long-term care facilities to stop using certain medications, which once were more routinely administered and pack more than a wallop for the old:

dcflags-300x131Nineteen months after the coronavirus pandemic first began to rage, the nation has racked up mortality  and morbidity statistics that are tragic and horrifying:

  • 1 in 500 Americans now has died of the disease
  • People older than 85 make up only 2% of the population, but a quarter of the total death toll

govtrustpew-181x300It’s a small occupational hazard that accompanies membership in the Bar — the ribbing that all lawyers take at social functions with those groan-inducing lawyer jokes.

While the good-natured jests typically merit a chuckle and a pass, it’s worth noting, two decades after the 9/11 tragedy and with all the deeply divisive events that have occurred since, that there are clear indicators that the legal profession deserves more credit than jibes. Lawyers are striving at least to preserve their constitutional responsibilities as a pillar of truth-telling in the contentious world. Others? Maybe less so. And the public should not be confused about this.

When viewers see the splashy Netflix documentary Worth, for example, they should take judicial notice that it creates a fictionalized account about trial lawyers and the push to compensate victims of the Sept. 11 catastrophe, argues the Center for Justice and Democracy at New York Law School.

vaper9112021-220x300The federal Food and Drug Administration punted on a scheduled showdown over e-cigarettes, delaying decisions on whether to allow Juul and other market-dominating firms to keep selling trendy “smokeless” devices while also banning millions of vaping products from other, mostly smaller manufacturers.

The agency argued with a defensive and defiant tone that it had acted on 6.5 million filings and 93% of the requests for approval to market e-cigarette and vaping-related products, rejecting most (including millions of flawed  applications from a single applicant).

But the FDA said it needed more time — how much it didn’t say — to weigh evidence from big e-cigarette makers who hold sway over 40% of the market. They claim their products’ benefits in helping adults stop smoking tobacco, especially killer cigarettes, outweighs the harms they cause to young people, likely addicting new generations to health-damaging nicotine and opening a gateway to tobacco and marijuana consumption.

bodybag-150x150In recent days, academic researchers and politicians have made distressing disclosures about the terrible toll the coronavirus pandemic took on the aged, injured, and sick in nursing homes and other long term care facilities with new data suggesting the disease infected more of the vulnerable and killed more of them than previously known.

Government officials, in the pandemic’s early days, may have failed to count 16,000 nursing home deaths due to the coronavirus, researchers at Harvard, UCLA, the University of Minnesota, and Massachusetts General Hospital reported in an online section of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Before federal reporting rules took effect in May 2020, officials also may have missed 68,000 more nursing home infections, the researchers found.

shapona-large-150x150housougami-150x150To those unfamiliar with the history of world religions and disease, the formidable duo shown here are Hosogami (left) and Shapona (right). In two different societies of yore, in the 600s and 700s A.D. in Japan and in the 18th and even into the 19th century in Nigeria, the fervent built religious rites around these smallpox deities.

Worshippers hoped various behaviors would appease their lords of infection, with later experts coming to believe that the priests of Shapona (aka Sopona) also helped to spread the highly contagious and disfiguring illness by scratching villagers as part of extortion schemes. Science and vaccinations eventually eradicated smallpox globally, with infectious disease and public health experts historically mindful how fear, ignorance, and societal pressures can lead numbers of people to embrace counterfactual and cultish responses to scary illnesses.

Now, can President Biden and his administration — with a new and tougher program to get millions of unvaccinated Americans to finally get coronavirus shots — back down what increasingly has become a politically partisan and almost theological opposition to proven methods to quell a disease that has killed 660,000 Americans already and is taking 1,500 lives each day?

Patrick Malone & Associates, P.C. listed in Best Lawyers Rated by Super Lawyers Patrick A. Malone
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