What Happened, What You Missed: November 27-December 1, 2023


Biden Invokes DPA to Address Drug Shortages

On Monday, President Joe Biden invoked the Defense Production Act (DPA) during an inaugural meeting of the Council on Supply Chain Resilience to ease drug shortages.  The announcement comes amid shortages of penicillin, Adderall, and certain cancer drugs that have affected doctors and patients across the nation.  The administration plans to use the DPA to invest $35 million to support domestic manufacturing of essential medicines and key ingredients.  Additionally, the White House will appoint a new Supply Chain Resilience and Shortage Coordinator to focus on long-term supply chain issues, and the Defense of Defense (DOD) will release a report on pharmaceutical supply chain resilience.

US Life Expectancy Sees Post-COVID Bump

The US life expectancy rate rose for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began, according to data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Researchers found a 1.1-year increase in 2022, bringing the overall life expectancy to 77.5 years.  This marks a reversal of the 2.4-year life expectancy drop that occurred over 2020-2021, which was largely driven by COVID-19 deaths.  Native Americans saw the largest life expectancy increase of 2.6 years, while the life expectancy gap between White and Black Americans narrowed slightly in 2022.  However, CDC researchers did note a rise in deaths from flu, pneumonia, kidney disease, and fetal and infant conditions in 2022.  The CDC also found that deaths from suicide reached a record high of nearly 50,000 in 2022.

Lawmakers Explore Use of AI in Health Care

Members of the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee heard from health care industry stakeholders in a hearing on Wednesday about the potential for artificial intelligence (AI) to decrease administrative burden and improve care delivery.  However, witnesses warned that regulations will be needed to protect patients’ privacy and ensure that AI does not discriminate against patients.  While subcommittee members were particularly interested in the ways AI could address clinician burnout as well as workforce shortages, there has yet to be any significant momentum on legislation to address AI in health care settings.

Califf Taps New Principal Deputy Director for FDA

FDA Chief Scientist Namandjé Bumpus will succeed Janet Woodcock as the agency’s Principal Deputy Director, according to an announcement from FDA Commissioner Robert Califf.  Earlier this month, Woodcock announced that she will be stepping down from her role in early 2024, marking the end of a 37-year career at FDA that included stints as action commissioner as well as head of the agency’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER).  Bumpus’ priorities in her new role include the creation of a new model for the office charge of inspecting facilities that manufacture drugs and medical devices.  Prior to joining the FDA in August 2022, Bumpus chaired the Department of Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where she conducted research on drug metabolism and the effects of antivirals on humans and pathogens.

ICYMI: High Winds Take Down White House Christmas Tree

The White House Christmas Tree was a casualty to 46 mph winds that befell the National Capital Region on Tuesday, just two weeks after the tree had been planted at the White House Ellipse.  The incident caused 20 ornaments to fall from the tree, although none of the ornaments were damaged.  Fortunately, the tree was raised just hours later, allowing the White House Christmas Tree lighting ceremony to continue as planned.

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