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

FDA Commissioner Aims to Address Drug Pricing Issues

Since the campaign trail prior to the presidential election, Donald Trump has been drawing focus to the issue of high drug prices in the United States. In an effort combat the pricing issues, Trump appointed U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, who recently announced the creation of the “drug competition action plan.” The plan would reduce the high cost of drugs in U.S. healthcare market by increasing the efficiency of approving generic medications of name-brand drugs.

Gottlieb pitched his plan to a congressional panel on May 25, 2017, stating that he would like the FDA to play a larger role in the pricing of drugs. Although the FDA cannot mandate drug prices, the agency can work to streamline the approval process of low-cost generic alternatives. In the House and Senate, two identical bills were introduced that would allow generic drug creators to sue brand name companies that attempt to slow the approval process. ONS will continue to work with government agencies to ensure the best care for patients with cancer.

House Republicans Propose 12-Bill Appropriations Omnibus

Prior to the August recess for Congress, House Republicans are considering a 12-bill package that would address all federal spending for the 2018 fiscal year. The 12 bills would have typically been passed individually, but packaging them would expedite the process to avoid any delays for GOP lawmakers. The new fiscal year begins on October 1, 2017, and Congress only has 12 legislative days scheduled for the month of September after returning from the August recess.

Representative Tom Graves (R-GA) proposed the idea during a closed-door Republican meeting. According to Graves, the idea was well received by his fellow GOP lawmakers and comes on the heels of the Trump administration’s recent budget proposal. ONS will continue to work alongside lawmakers to ensure funding for important health and cancer agencies, including the National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute, and National Institute for Nursing Research.

Adults Don’t Recognize Harm of Vaping Around Kids

According to a report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), parents don’t fully realize or understand the public perception of the harms of vaping. Of those polled, nearly one-third of adults didn’t acknowledge that vaping aerosols posed secondhand risks to children. The CDC report went on to say that 40% of adults acknowledged vaping aerosol could pose “little” or “some” harm to kids. The U.S. surgeon general has already noted the potential risks, saying that aerosol emitted by e-cigarettes and vape pens contains nicotine, heavy metals, and other hazardous particles.

The CDC cites the recent uptick in e-cigarette usage, along with marketing campaigns, for the knowledge gap in parents. According to Brian King, MD, one of the study’s coauthors, “We didn't really see the use of these products increase among adults or youth until around 2011 or 2012. They're heavily promoted, and frequently the inherent risks of using these products, particularly among youth, are not included in that promotion."

ONS continues to promote smoking cessation in all patients and recognizes the negative effects of e-cigarettes and electronic nicotine delivery systems.