NINR Acting Director; Vaping Flavor Ban; Drug Pricing 2020
NINR Appoints Schwetz as Acting Director
In 2018, long-time National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) Director Patricia Grady, PhD, RN, FAAN, retired (https://voice.ons.org/news-and-views/longstanding-ninr-director-retires-after-two-decades-of-developing-nursing-science). A national search yielded no new directors, and the National Institutes of Health appointed Principal Deputy Director Lawrence Tabak, DDS, PhD, to serve as acting NINR director. However, when the director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research announced she would retire at the end of 2019 (https://www.oralhealthgroup.com/news/national-institute-of-dental-and-craniofacial-research-director-to-retire-at-end-of-year-1003946777/), Tabak, who previously served as the dental agency’s director, was appointed as the obvious replacement.
To fill Tabak’s role at NINR, Tara Schwetz, PhD, will become the new acting director (https://www.ninr.nih.gov/aboutninr/directors-message), effective January 1, 2020. Jessica Gill, PhD, RN, FAAN, will serve as the deputy for the research agency. ONS continues to support oncology nursing research (https://voice.ons.org/topic/oncology-nurse-researcher) and works with agencies like NINR to further innovation in nursing science (https://www.ons.org/podcasts/episode-44-how-nurses-innovate-practice-every-day-ons-congress).
FDA Pick Won’t Commit to Flavor Ban
Most agency nominees from the president must walk a fine line during their confirmation hearings, especially those who face committees of jurisdiction from the opposing political party. It’s no surprise that U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner designee Stephen Hahn, MD (https://voice.ons.org/advocacy/shalalas-vaping-fight-pre-existing-conditions-trump-nominates-hahn), skirted many pointed questions and attempted to hedge his bets to avoid controversial answers.
When asked about vaping, Hahn—an oncologist by trade—wouldn’t commit to banning flavored e-cigarettes (https://www.politico.com/news/2019/11/20/trump-fda-pick-stops-short-of-committing-to-flavor-ban-072090), citing process rather than medical evidence. It signals a larger move from the Trump administration as it also announced stepping back from original plans to heavily regulate flavored e-cigarettes (https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/trump-pulls-back-from-flavored-vaping-ban/2019/11/17/30853ece-07ae-11ea-924a-28d87132c7ec_story.html). ONS and the greater health community hope that once Hahn is confirmed, he will have a firmer hand in smoking cessation and tobacco use policies. ONS is actively working with FDA representatives on the Society’s vaping policy position (https://www.ons.org/make-a-difference/advocacy-policy/public-health).
Drug Pricing Will Be Central to Health Policy in 2020
Drug pricing woes continue to dominate the news cycle (https://voice.ons.org/advocacy/surprise-billing-legislation-drug-pricing-reform-stalls-gops-aca-repeal), and Americans are feeling the financial pressure attached to their medications. Patients shouldn’t have to stake their financial futures on lifesaving treatments (https://voice.ons.org/news-and-views/financial-toxicity-and-its-burden-on-cancer-care). The issue has drawn the attention of Republicans and Democrats alike (https://voice.ons.org/advocacy/the-battle-against-drug-pricing-wages-on), and both parties are looking for ways to address the issue.
In a series of one-on-one conversations, representatives from both sides of the aisle—including U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar—discussed the health policy issues Americans will face in 2020 (https://www.axios.com/heath-care-in-2020-0bf19ee8-0a8d-484f-8e0f-6c3a89874a3a.html). Drug pricing and access to affordable care led the conversation, and experts outlined options for what could be done about it. In a contentious election year, medication costs seem to be one of the last true bipartisan issues on Capitol Hill.