RIP to Mike Leach, a pioneering college football coach who passed away Monday night from heart disease.
In today’s health care lawmakers told Pfizer’s CEO to ‘step back’ from raising the price of the company’s COVID-19 vaccine.
But first, we highlight the promising early results on preventing recurrence of melanoma cases that have been announced by Moderna and Merck.
Welcome to night health care, where we follow the latest developments in policies and news concerning your health. For The Hill, we are Nathaniel Weixel and Joseph Choi. Did someone forward this newsletter to you? Register here or in the box below.
Moderna vax reduces risk of skin cancer relapse
Researchers found that the combination of a personalized mRNA vaccine from Moderna and Keytruda from Merck in melanoma patients reduced the risk of death or disease relapse by 44% compared to patients taking just Keytruda.
The results are the first time an mRNA vaccine, which uses the same technology as Moderna and Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccines, has demonstrated an increased immune response in a patient when combined with a drug they are taking. .
“Today’s results are very encouraging for the field of cancer treatment. mRNA has been transformative for COVID-19, and now, for the very first time, we have demonstrated the potential for mRNA to impact the outcomes of a randomized clinical trial in melanoma,” said the Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel in a statement from Merck.
- The results were announced by the companies and not published in a journal.
- The companies plan to discuss their findings with regulatory authorities and extend them to other tumor types.
Keytruda is an immunotherapy used to fight various cancers, including melanoma, which is the deadliest form of skin cancer. The mRNA teaches a person’s cells to make a protein to trigger an immune response in their body, protecting them from a virus or disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Learn more here.
Iowa’s six-week abortion ban remains stalled
A six-week abortion ban in Iowa remains stalled after a state judge ruled Monday that the court lacks the power to dissolve a permanent injunction on the ban.
Judge Celene Gogerty ruled that state law did not allow her to waive the injunction, but even if she did, she wrote that the state failed to argue how the ruling of the Iowa Supreme Court had significantly changed the state’s abortion law.
The law being debated was passed and signed into law by Governor Kim Reynolds (right) in 2018, banning abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected around six weeks into a pregnancy, which is often before many women know they are pregnant.
The law provided exceptions for rape, incest, fetal abnormalities, medical emergencies, and when an abortion is deemed medically necessary.
- But the Iowa Supreme Court issued a permanent injunction on the law in 2019 after finding it violated the Iowa Constitution and federal precedent on abortion law.
- Reynolds argued that because of rulings earlier this year by the U.S. Supreme Court and the Iowa Supreme Court that found a woman had no constitutional right to an abortion, the injunction should have been lifted.
- Reynolds said in a statement that she would appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court.
Learn more here.
WARREN, CEO of WELCH PRESS PFIZER ON RISE IN COVID VACCINE PRICES
Two Democrats are pressuring Pfizer over the company’s plans to raise the price of its COVID-19 vaccine.
In a letter to Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), an elected senator, called the decision “pure and deadly greed” and expressed their concern. could cause other vaccine makers, such as Moderna and Novavax, to raise the prices of their vaccines.
- Democrats have asked for information on the rationale for the price increase and the impact of the increase on Americans who may be required to pay high fees for the vaccine.
- “We urge you to forgo your proposed price increases and ensure that COVID-19 vaccines are reasonably priced and accessible to people across the United States,” Warren and Welch wrote.
Pfizer plans to roughly quadruple the price of its COVID-19 vaccine to between $110 and $130 per dose once the U.S. government’s procurement program ends early next year.
The federal government currently pays about $30 per dose and then distributes the vaccine to the public for free.
The letter comes as Congress appears unlikely to fund the administration’s request for $10 billion in additional COVID-19 funding, which officials say is needed to ease the transition.
Learn more here
FAUCI SAYS HE ‘PAYS NO ATTENTION’ TO MUSK AFTER TWEET
Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he “pays no attention” to Elon Musk following the new Twitter CEO’s tweet calling for the pursuit of Fauci.
“I don’t answer him,” Fauci told CNN’s David Axelrod for a podcast to be released Thursday.
“I don’t pay any attention to it because it’s just a distraction,” Fauci added.
“And if you’re drawn into this, and I have to be honest, this interaction cesspool… there’s no added value to that, David. This is useless. »
A clip from the interview aired Monday on “Erin Burnett OutFront.”
Learn more here.
COVID vax has saved 3.2 million lives in the US, researchers say
COVID-19 vaccines developed by biotech companies Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have saved more than 3 million American lives over a two-year period, according to new research from the Commonwealth Fund.
The first coronavirus vaccine in the United States was administered in December 2020. Since then, healthcare workers have put more than 655 million doses into Americans’ arms, with 80% of the population having received at least one dose. of a COVID-19 vaccine. .
The Commonwealth Fund has estimated that vaccines have prevented more than 18.5 million hospitalizations and 3.2 million deaths from December 2020 to last month.
“The unprecedented pace at which vaccines have been developed and deployed has saved many lives and allowed for the safer easing of COVID-19 restrictions and the reopening of businesses, schools and other activities,” the researchers wrote. in a blog post. “This extraordinary achievement was only possible through sustained funding and effective policymaking that ensured vaccines were available to all Americans.”
Learn more here.
WHAT WE READ
- How Medicare Advantage plans dodged auditors and overbilled taxpayers by the millions (Kaiser Health News)
- Chinese health app launches online sale of Pfizer’s Paxlovid for COVID treatment (Reuters)
- ‘Out of control’: Dozens of telehealth startups sent sensitive health info to big tech companies (Stat)
STATE BY STATE
- Tennessee Titans team up with state health department to spread COVID-19 awareness (WZTV)
- New Jersey public sector workers seek $350 million in aid to offset state health care premium hikes (WHYY)
- Charges against a former state health department worker were dismissed after she pleaded guilty (Miami Herald)
That’s all for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s healthcare page for the latest news and coverage. Until tomorrow.
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