The Biden administration has unprecedented demands on the healthcare sector: tackle climate change. However, the pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is voluntary, leading researchers and advocates to question its effectiveness.
The Department of Health and Human Services wants hospitals, health providers, pharmaceutical companies and other industry players to sign pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, take stock of supply chain emissions and develop climate resilience plans for their facilities. The U.S. health care system accounts for 8.5% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. 2020 report. Hospitals are often one of the largest employers in their communities and are often one of the highest drivers of carbon emissions.
The HHS request could help build momentum and encourage more industry leaders to get involved on the issue, said Antonia Herzog, deputy climate policy director at HHS for Harmless Healthcare, an advocacy group working to combat climate change in healthcare. The targets, she said, “fuel the fire” for the industry by engaging more of the health industry and making those who already do so aware of their supply chain emissions.
Rachel Levine, assistant secretary of health at HHS, said in an interview that the impact of climate change on human health “is going to get worse.” “People tend to think it’s there, and that’s going to happen in 2050. But we’re seeing it now.”
Levine returned to New York City this month to witness the signing of the HHS Pledge by NYC Health + Hospitals. It’s the same city where she learned how to become a doctor — more than 35 years ago, where she treated children with asthma due to poor air quality and lead poisoning. Read more from Shira Stein.
also happens in the mountains
Senate sends Biden emergency recipe access bill: The Senate unanimously approved House-passed legislation that would provide emergency powers to ease rules on infant formula purchases for programs serving low-income women and children. The bill passed the House on Wednesday, and Senate action sent it to the president for signature. “We rarely agree on important measures in the Senate,” the majority leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the shortage is putting “unimaginable stress” on parents.
The bill would give the Department of Agriculture greater flexibility in implementing the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program (WIC) for Women, Infants and Children. Lawmakers are scrambling to address the formula shortage since Abbott Laboratories recalled several of its brands and closed its main Michigan plant earlier this year. About half of the babies in the WIC plan are covered by the Abbott contract. The measure is designed to ensure households can use their benefits to buy alternatives. Read more from Laura Litvan and Maeve Sheehey.
- Meanwhile, FDA Commissioner Robert Califf at the hearing House appropriations chairman’s question was sidelined Thursday Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) A whistleblower report in October of quality blunders and falsified records about the shutdown of an Abbott plant led to nationwide shortages. Califf said he would detail at a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing next week and asked the agency for more resources to assess the safety of infant formula, Reporting by Anna Edney and Fiona Rutherford.
- related: Infant formula shortages show risk of U.S. industry concentration
Califf says FDA must be “sensible” in vaping policy: Califf also told lawmakers his agency needed more resources to speed up its review of e-cigarettes and avoid hasty decisions that could spark industry lawsuits. “This is an industry that has amazing legal capabilities,” Calif said at a House subcommittee hearing on Thursday. “If we make a mistake in the process, we could be going back years in these applications.” Lawmakers challenged Califf over FDA’s update that it may not complete its e-cigarettes until June 2023 Marketing Review. Celine Castronovo and more.
Insulin pricing bill delayed as lawmakers wait for CBO: Legislation to reduce Americans paying for insulin may not wait until after the Memorial Day recess, as lawmakers backing the bill await projections on how it will affect the federal deficit and spending. feel. Susan Collins (R – Maine) and Jenny Shaheen (DN.H.) said this week that they are waiting for the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office to score a bill aimed at lowering insulin prices and limiting how much patients pay for key diabetes drugs. Collins said she was “encouraged” by the progress of the bill.
Schumer and Senators. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) introduced legislation that would cap the amount people pay for insulin to $35 a month, in conjunction with the Shaheen-Collins measure, which was voted on earlier this month on the insulin bill. That timeline “has been pushed back,” as lawmakers await a response from the CBO, Shaheen said Wednesday. Warnock said the vote had been pushed ahead of Memorial Day. The freshman senator faces a tough re-election bid in November and has made the cost of insulin a signature issue this year. Read more from Alex Ruff.
Pfizer Kids Boosters get support from CDC advisors: Pfizer and BioNTech’s Covid-19 booster for 5-11-year-olds gets support from U.S. health advisory panel to make the vaccine a sub-variety of the infectious omicron that spreads across the country to school-aged children critical step. On Thursday, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted 11 to 1, with 1 abstention, to recommend boosters for children. Director Rochelle Walensky has the final say on whether to officially release the proposal. Earlier this week, the FDA authorized the Pfizer booster for use in the children’s cohort. Read more from Fiona Rutherford.
Long-term Covid patients feel better after being vaccinated: Fewer Covid-19 patients report lingering symptoms after infection after vaccination, according to a study that suggests vaccinating may help reduce the burden of long-term Covid-19 infection. The study, published Thursday in The BMJ, found that the first dose of the vaccine after contracting the virus was associated with a 13 percent lower chance of long-term Covid infection, while the second dose was associated with a 9 percent lower chance. For more than seven months in 2021, researchers visited the homes of more than 28,000 people, asking them if they developed symptoms long after infection. Marthe Fourcade and Clara Hernanz Lizarrage and more.
Moderna Patent Defense provides protection for U.S. companies: According to legal theory, makers of a coronavirus vaccine may find refuge in a patent lawsuit that Moderna is hearing, which could affect post-pandemic deals between the drugmaker and the government. Moderna is fighting Arbutus Biopharma and Genevant Sciences GmbH seeking royalties for the sale of its Covid vaccine. It said their claims should be brought against the government, citing a law designed to protect government suppliers. If Moderna is successful, the decision could provide a roadmap for other drugmakers to circumvent lawsuits, analysts said. Ian Lopez has more.
What else to know today
Unions lukewarm on abortion rights after Roe Leak: Since the leak of the Supreme Court’s draft opinion invalidating Roe v. Wade this month, only a handful of major U.S. unions have expressed support for abortion rights, underscoring the delicate relationship between organized labor and progressive movements. A draft opinion leaked earlier this month showed the Supreme Court was poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, which could ban abortion in at least 26 states if the ruling is final. Cornell University’s Kate Bronfenbrenner said the union’s caution was not surprising. Learn more from Rebecca Rainey and J. Edward Moreno.
Drug companies urged to draft plans to avoid shortages: Drugmakers should develop plans early in the development phase of their products to mitigate supply disruptions and shortages, the FDA said in draft guidance on Thursday. These recommendations outline steps that sponsors of pharmaceutical or biological applications should take to develop a risk management plan that may limit the impact of quality issues. The draft guidance is part of a coordinated FDA effort to better prepare for future drug supply problems following pandemic-induced shortages. Read more from Celine Castronuovo.
HHS Allocates $1.5 Billion for National Opioid Response: HHS funding opportunities for the State Opioid Response Grant Program will provide nearly $1.5 billion to states and territories to help address the opioid addiction and overdose epidemic, according to an HHS statement Thursday. The grant, which will be awarded to 59 states and territories in fiscal year 2022, includes funds set aside for states with the highest opioid-related mortality rates, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The program providers fund an increase in FDA-approved drugs to combat opioid abuse. Read more from Kiera Geraghty.
New monkeypox cases in US, Europe and Australia: New and suspected cases of monkeypox have emerged in recent days in New York City, Sweden, Canada and Australia’s two largest cities, suggesting that a rare and potentially deadly cousin of the smallpox virus, traditionally confined to areas of Africa, is now sown globally Inside, Michelle Fay-Cortez reports.
To contact a reporter about this story: Brandon Lee in Washington [email protected]