NIHCM Newsletter / April 2023

Drug Shortages

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Senate report: “Short Supply: The Health and National Security Risks of Drug Shortages,” United States Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs, Chairman Gary Peters, HSGAC Majority Staff Report, March 2023.

Drug Shortages & Pricing:

The United States is facing an increasing number of drug shortages, which a recent Senate report frames as a national security threat. The drugs in short supply range from medications for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), antibiotics, and IV saline, to children’s flu medications. The consequences for patients and health care providers are devastating. In addition, drug affordability continues to be a concern, with nearly 1,000 drugs experiencing price increases so far this year.

Initiatives & Resources:

Mental Health & Substance Use Disorders

The US continues to grapple with increasing rates of mental health and substance use disorders, as well as limited resources and barriers to care. The current rise in drug overdose deaths is attributed to fentanyl, which the Department of Homeland Security Secretary has called the “single greatest challenge” facing the country. To combat the overdose crisis, the FDA has approved Narcan, a nasal spray version of naloxone, to be sold over the counter.

  • Screening and Telehealth: A new NIH study identifies genes associated with underlying substance use disorders, which could help create more effective prevention and treatment strategies. A CDC press release highlights the findings of a recent study that found the increase in telehealth services for opioid use disorder reduced the risk of fatal drug overdoses.
  • Children’s Mental Health: A recent study cites the increasing number of children with suicidal or self-harming behavior. One study found a connection between excessive screen time and mental health problems in youth. Another study found a connection between parenting style and increased risk of mental health symptoms.

Resources & Initiatives:

In Other Public Health News…

Medicaid Unwinding

Pandemic protections ended April 1 and states have started cutting off Medicaid coverage. As many as 15 million people could lose coverage. This includes seven million people who are still eligible and who will have to re-enroll. Nearly half of the 15 million individuals predicted to lose coverage are Black or Latino.

  • A new Tradeoffs podcast episode digs into three research articles to explain “The Treacherous Transition Awaiting Millions Losing Their Medicaid.”

Resistant Infections

Antibiotic resistance is a growing concern, with the WHO reporting that there are insufficient new drugs to address increasingly resistant infections. Scientists are concerned with how multiple strains of the stomach bacteria Shigella have acquired resistance to the five antibiotics most commonly used to treat it. Additionally, this CDC press release addresses the threat of antimicrobial-resistant fungus spreading in health care facilities.

Women’s Health

Women are underrepresented in health care research. Topics relevant to women’s health, such as menopause, are often taboo. Elevance Health is promoting the inclusion of women in clinical trials and an op-ed from Premera Blue Cross shares the challenges of navigating health care as a woman.

  • NIHCM’s webinar yesterday explored women’s health access, focusing on the impact of Medicaid and family planning. Slides are available and the recording will be available next week.

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