What Happened, What You Missed: February 20-24, 2023


Multiple Problems Plague Primary Care in America

Primary care across the nation is in a dire state, according to a new report from the Milbank Memorial Fund and the Physicians Foundation.  Among the most concerning findings is an increase in the percentage of adults who don’t have a usual source of care, and the fact that too few primary care physicians are being trained in community settings.  According to the report, a major contributing factor to these problems is inadequate investment in primary care.  For example, average spending on primary care for all insurance types declined from 6.2% in 2013 to 4.6% in 2020, which is far below average spending in other wealthy nations.

FDA Begins Review of Babies’ RSV Vaccine

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted priority review for a vaccine to protect infants up to six months of age from respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), according to an announcement from Pfizer.  The priority review status means the agency will try to review the application within six months instead of the standard 10.  There are currently no RSV vaccines available for infants, and the FDA offers priority review for drugs that promise “significant improvements” over existing drugs.  If deemed effective, the Pfizer’s RSV vaccine could be available for infants ahead of a likely RSV season next winter.

FDA Issues First Fines to E-Cigarette Manufacturers

The FDA fined four electronic cigarette manufacturers over their alleged sales of unauthorized products on Wednesday, marking the first time the agency has issued civil money penalty complaints against tobacco product manufacturers for allowing products to go to market without federal approval.  According to a press release, the FDA has sent more than 550 warning letters since the start of 2021 to companies that manufacture, sell, or distribute new tobacco products without being allowed. Most of the companies that received warning letter have taken their products off the market and are now complying with FDA regulations.

Poll: High Costs Is America’s Number 1 Public Health Worry

Reducing high drug and health costs was the top public health priority for 50% of Americans, according to a new poll from Axios-Ipsos.  In comparison, 14% said reducing gun deaths and another 14% listed research into cures and treatment for major diseases as a top priority for government intervention.  When asked to name the number one threat to public health, over a quarter of respondents said opioids and fentanyl, 21% cited obesity, 17% listed gun violence, and 12% said cancer.  Additionally, a large majority of respondents said the country is not prepared to handle another pandemic.  The poll was conducted in February and included over 1,200 adults.

ICYMI: Cicilline to Resign from Congress in June

Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) announced earlier this week that he will officially leave Congress on June 1, 2023.  A member of the Foreign Affairs and Judiciary committee, the 61-year-old Cicilline has been elected to seven terms in Congress.  Prior to entering Congress, he served in the Rhode Island state legislative and as mayor of Providence.  Cicilline is leaving to Congress to lead the Rhode Island Foundation, which supports community programs in the Ocean State through grants and investments.  His retirement will trigger a special election in the heavily Democratic 1st Congressional District.

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