By Chris Pirschel, Staff Writer, and Alec Stone, ONS Public Affairs Director

Bipartisan Prescription Drug Debates Rage in Washington

Congress has settled in after the shutdown, and new members have taken their place on committees to begin the real work in Washington, DC. This week, the House and Senate convened similar panels to discuss the bipartisan goal to lower soaring drug costs for all Americans. Patients and families provided emotional testimony about lost loved ones because of pricey prescription medications that were out of reach.

To the dismay of both chambers, no pharmaceutical company representatives testified. Although neither group came to a consensus in the initial hearings, House and Senate members threatened to subpoena the industry if no one comes forward voluntarily to testify on drug pricing. This will be a fight between the drug companies and Congress, but who will ultimately win is unclear at this time.

Surgeon General, FDA Focus on Youth Vaping Epidemic

Once viewed as a reasonable alternative to traditional cigarettes—and a potential means to quit—electronic cigarettes and vaping have increased the rate of smoking among children, reversing a decade’s old trend of declining rates in youth tobacco use. Trends have changed so drastically that the U.S. surgeon general, following a statement from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner, declared youth smoking a national epidemic.

Last week, ONS testified before the Virginia state senate on the issue, offering a critical nursing perspective. In the meeting, one state senator even casually inhaled from a device in front of his colleagues without them noticing to demonstrate the ease of how teens can vape in classrooms undetected. To both the surgeon general and FDA’s credit, raising awareness is the first step to reversing this deadly trend.

Socioeconomic Disparities Impact Cancer Outcomes

A recently published perspective article by ONS advocate Janice Phillips, RN, PhD, FAAN, draws attention to the fact that, despite a decline in overall cancer mortality in the United States, continued gaps for people of color or lower socioeconomic status are affecting cancer outcomes. Nurses are advocates by personality as well as by profession, and Phillips demonstrated how nurses promote better health care—not only through clinical practice, evidence-based research, and nursing education—but by raising their voices in the public health policy arena.

It’s done every day by millions of nurses who stand up and speak out when they see an opportunity to change things for the better. Healthcare disparities continue to be an issue, but by demonstrating the problem, a solution becomes more possible. When nurses speak, policymakers listen. Learn more about the importance of nursing advocacy—and earn free CNE while you’re at it—on the Oncology Nursing Podcast