Health Care — Public uninformed about new booster shots

🏈 A new chapter with the NFL and Congress: Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.), head of Congress’s Brain Injury Task Force, is demanding answers after a brutal hit on Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

In other health news, many adults say they don’t know anything about the new COVID-19 booster shots.

Welcome to Overnight Health Care, where we’re following the latest moves on policy and news affecting your health. For The Hill, we’re Nathaniel Weixel and Joseph Choi. Someone forward you this newsletter? Subscribe here.

Poll: Millions of Americans lack booster knowledge

A new poll released on Friday found that half of U.S. adults say they know little to nothing about the recently authorized bivalent coronavirus booster doses almost one month after they were made available.

Public awareness evenly split:

  • The data from the Kaiser Family Foundation’s COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor found that a minority of people said they knew “a lot” about the omicron-specific boosters, at 17 percent, while another 33 percent said they knew “some.” 

  • Among the other half of respondents, 31 percent said they knew “a little” about the shots, while 20 percent said they knew “nothing at all.”

The bivalent COVID-19 boosters from Moderna and Pfizer contain mRNA components of the original SARS-CoV-2 strain as well as an mRNA component that is found in both the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron subvariants.

Prospective immunization rates: The Kaiser survey found that about a third of U.S. adults say they have either gotten the updated shot or are planning to get it “as soon as possible,” with only 5 percent saying they had gotten the shot.

A little more than a quarter of respondents said they were ineligible for the booster due to having not yet received the first two primary doses of the COVID-19 vaccines. Another 18 percent said they planned to wait and see before getting the shot,
10 percent said they would get it if they required to, and 12 percent said they would “definitely” not be getting boosted.

Read more here.

Price of more than 1,200 drugs outpaced inflation

More than 1,200 prescription drugs rose in price faster than the rate of inflation between 2021 and 2022, according to a report released by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on Friday.

Between July 2021 and July 2022, the prices for 1,216 drugs rose more than the 8.6 percent rate of inflation; the drugs saw an average price increase of 31.6 percent.

  • Between July 2021 and July 2022, the prices for 1,216 drugs rose more than the 8.6 percent rate of inflation; the drugs saw an average price increase of 31.6 percent.

  • Some of the drugs that saw the highest dollar amount increases in 2022 include lymphoma medications like Tecartus, Yescarta and Zevalin as well as diabetes medications like Korlym.

Context: The report highlights the potential impact of the drug pricing provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act. The law requires drug companies to pay a rebate to the government if drug prices rise faster than inflation for Medicare.

  • The requirement takes effect Saturday, for the 12-month period beginning Oct. 1.

  • Caveat: the report looks at list prices, which is not the final cost to consumers. List prices don’t account for rebates paid to pharmacy benefit managers, who pass savings on to the public.

Read more here.

ABRAMS’ FETAL HEARTBEAT COMMENTS DRAW IRE

Recent comments made by Georgia’s Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams regarding fetal heartbeats were a hot topic among GOP lawmakers on Thursday during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing examining abortion restrictions across the country.

Abrams has faced heavy criticism from the right following a comment she made last week during a panel discussion in Atlanta.

  • “There is no such thing as a heartbeat at six weeks,” Abrams said. “It is a manufactured sound designed to convince people that men have a right to take control of a woman’s body away from her.” 

  • “Within the first four weeks of pregnancy, the baby develops a heartbeat, despite, by the way, claims of my home state’s gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, this is not merely a manufactured sound,” said Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.).

Abrams’s comments reflect the position of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), which says on its website: “It is clinically inaccurate to use the word ‘heartbeat’ to describe the sound that can be heard on ultrasound in very early pregnancy.”

Read more here.

US SUICIDE RATES RISE FOLLOWING 2-YEAR DECLINE

Rates of suicide in the U.S. increased in 2021 following a two-year period of decline, according to new provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Compared with 2020, last year saw a 4 percent increase in suicides overall, according to death records processed by the National Center for Health Statistics.

Although total monthly suicides were lower in January, February and July of 2021 compared with the previous year, all other months outpaced 2020. Totals were also
1 percent lower than peak rates measured in 2018.

The trend is worrying experts who fear rates are rebounding to those measured before the pandemic.

  • The suicide rate among men was greater than that of women in 2021: 4 percent and 2 percent, respectively.

  • “By age group, the largest statistically significant percentage increase from 2020 to 2021 was for males aged 15–24, by 8%,” authors wrote, adding no significant declines were measured in any male age group.

Read more here.

Calif. bans ‘forever chemicals’ in cosmetics, clothing

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) late Thursday night signed two bills that will ban cancer-linked “forever chemicals” from cosmetic products and textiles in the state beginning in 2025.

The same evening, however, the governor vetoed a third bill that would have created a publicly accessible database of consumer items that contain these toxic compounds.

The first bill signed into law, AB 2771, will prohibit the manufacture, sale and delivery of cosmetic products that contain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). This legislation builds upon an existing law that had banned select types of PFAS by that same deadline.

“Toxic PFAS have no place in our consumer products,” state Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D), who authored the bill, said in a statement.

The second bill, AB 1817, will bar the manufacture, distribution and sale of “any new, not previously owned” textiles that contain PFAS, with a few exceptions. The bill will also require manufacturers to provide a certificate of compliance indicating that their products do not contain PFAS.

Building on past work: These new requirements follow up on two other product bans signed into law last October. Those bills, proposed by Friedman and fellow Assemblymember Phil Ting (D) respectively, prohibit the sale and distribution of both food packaging and children’s products that contain PFAS, beginning next year.

Read more here.

WHAT WE’RE READING

  • Tua Tagovailoa’s head injury spurs scrutiny of NFL concussion protocol (Washington Post)

  • Siga’s Tpoxx study enrollment slows as monkeypox cases wane (Bloomberg Law)

  • Overseas baby-formula makers given path to keep selling in U.S. (Wall Street Journal)

STATE BY STATE

  • Texas Health hospitals charge over three times Medicare rates — and want a big increase (The Dallas Morning News)

  • CDC warns of severe illnesses from monkeypox as Ohio reports death of a monkeypox patient (CNN)

  • Missouri launches mental health hotline for farmers in crisis (KOMU)

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Health Care page for the latest news and coverage. See you next week.

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