Health Care at Iowa Caucus; FDA Biologic Market; Flavored E-Cigarette Pod Ban
Health Care Top Issue at Iowa Caucus
The Iowa Democratic Caucus did not go as smoothly as the political prognosticators expected (https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/02/04/us/politics/iowa-democratic-caucus-explained.html). Most news outlets are only reporting the level of dysfunction with a voting app that delayed the final numbers significantly, but beneath that is one truth that still rings true: Americans want solutions to their healthcare problems (https://www.kff.org/health-costs/issue-brief/data-note-americans-challenges-health-care-costs/). Health care remained the number one policy issue for 41% of caucus attendees (https://edition.cnn.com/2020/02/03/politics/iowa-caucuses-entrance-polls/index.html), an astoundingly high rate that beat every other issue handedly.
Although voters are starting to tire of health policy issues, they are still most concerned about it. Nurses are a key position to drive the conversation (https://www.ons.org/podcasts/episode-86-how-will-nurses-affect-health-policy-2020), share the patient experience, and make an impact on the future of health care. With options ranging from Medicare for All to “Medicare for All Who Want It,” expect candidates to ramp up their messaging and make health care a top priority.
FDA, FTC Support Competitive Biologics Market
The wave of biosimilar cancer treatments reaching practice is growing (https://voice.ons.org/news-and-views/novel-therapies-how-car-t-cells-and-biosimilars-are-changing-cancer-care), but the process of getting to market can be slow. Because they offer lower-cost alternatives (https://voice.ons.org/news-and-views/biosimilars-offer-new-options-for-treatment-and-new-concepts-for-patient-education) to their reference products, making them available to patients sooner is one way to address the financial toxicity of cancer treatment (https://voice.ons.org/news-and-views/how-oncology-nurses-can-support-patients-during-financial-toxicity). Now, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are focusing on ways to get biosimilars into practice faster and with less pushback from competitive companies (https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-and-ftc-announce-new-efforts-further-deter-anti-competitive-business-practices-support) that don’t want their reference products being mimicked.
In a free market economy, competition is key to keeping pricing affordable. For patients with life-threatening diseases, affordability and access are vital to ensuring the best possible outcomes. Learn more about biosimilars and what nurses need to know in practice on the Oncology Nursing Podcast (https://www.ons.org/podcasts/episode-79-nurses-need-biosimilars-education-and-resources).
What the Flavored E-Cigarette Pod Ban Means
Two decades of declining overall smoking rates—especially among underage smokers—have effectively been reversed (https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2018/p0118-smoking-rates-declining.html) with the advent of electronic cigarettes and vaping. After the U.S. surgeon general declared it a youth smoking epidemic (https://voice.ons.org/advocacy/surgeon-general-declares-youth-vaping-an-epidemic) FDA made a commitment to address it, and on February 6, 2020, a slew of new restrictions for vaping pods went into effect (https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/02/05/flavored-e-cigarette-pod-ban-starts-thursday-what-it-means-vapers/).
The day prior, e-cigarette executives testified before Congress, saying their products weren’t designed or marketed for kids and young adults—despite evidence to the contrary (https://voice.ons.org/advocacy/house-committee-examines-juuls-role-in-the-youth-smoking-epidemic). A skeptical congressional committee listened as witnesses attempted to persuade a bipartisan legislative group that restrictions and support from the companies themselves will curb underage smoking rates. Although FDA put limits on flavored vaping pods, ONS and its advocates have a long road ahead to ensure that underage users don’t have access to or interest in those potentially dangerous products (https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/severe-lung-disease.html).