What Happened, What You Missed: July 10-14, 2023

FDA Approves First OTC Birth Control Pill

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first-ever over-the-counter (OTC) birth control pill for all women of reproductive age. Called Opill, the drug will be available without a prescription at pharmacies, grocery stores, and convenience stores, as well as online. Perrigo, the drug’s manufacturer, estimates that the drug will be available to consumers within the first few months of 2024. While Perrigo has pledged to make the drug “accessible and affordable,” the company has yet to disclose the pill’s price. Opill’s approval comes amid growing legal and legislative battles over women’s access to abortion services since the overturning of Roe v. Wade last year.

White House Outlines Plan to Fight Tranq

The White House released a National Response Plan to coordinate a whole-of-government response to address the risky combination of fentanyl and xylazine. Known as “tranq,” xylazine is an easily obtainable veterinary medicine that a growing number of drug dealers are cutting with fentanyl to extend a user’s high. A recent study found overdose deaths from xylazine-laced fentanyl increased by 276% between January 2019 and June 2022. The plan contains six areas of focus that address testing, data collection, supply reduction, research, and scheduling. Administration officials say the plan’s goal is to reduce the number of xylazine-related deaths by 15% in three of four US census regions by 2025.

Administration Proposes New Limits on Short-Term Plans

The Biden administration issued a proposed rule to reverse Trump-era policies that expanded the availability of short-term, limited-duration (STLD) plans. According to the rule, STLD plans would be limited from a maximum of three years to just three months, and STLD plan providers would be required to communicate to consumers what the plans do and do not cover. STLD plans do not have to meet the same requirements as Affordable Care Act (ACA) plans, such as coverage of pre-existing conditions and some essential health benefits like prescription drugs. Stakeholders have until September 11, 2023 to comment on the proposed rule.

CDC: More ER Visits Tied to Cannabis Use

A growing number of young people are going to the emergency room (ER) for marijuana-related emergencies, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These ER visits occur when children and adolescents consume toxic levels of cannabis, which can result in confusion, vomiting, seizures, or difficulty breathing. The data found the sharpest rise in marijuana-tied ER visits among children under age 11, which increased 214% between 2019 and 2022. According to the CDC, pandemic-related stresses may have driven more children to consume cannabis products as a coping mechanism. The CDC recommends that adults safely and securely store marijuana products to help prevent unintentional ingestions among minors.

ICYMI: Climate Protesters Disrupt Congressional Softball Game

A group of protesters opposed to fossil fuels disrupted the Congressional Women’s Softball Game for 10 minutes, prompting several softball players to throw an impromptu dance party. Founded in 2009, the Congressional Women’s Softball Game pits lawmakers against journalists in a match to raise money for young survivors of breast cancer. The game resumed after Capitol Police told the protesters they would face arrest if they did not leave the field. Journalists prevailed over the lawmakers 15-9 in a game that raised a record $588,000.