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In health news today, a ruling by a Texas federal judge could spell the end of a federal program that gives teens confidential access to birth control.
But first, the administration is giving states and territories more doses of Tamiflu in the midst of an early and severe flu season.
Welcome to Night Medical Care, where we follow the latest policy moves and news that affect your health. For The Hill, we are nathaniel weixel Y joseph choi. Did someone forward this newsletter to you? sign up here or in the box below.
Tamiflu doses released from national stockpiles
The Biden administration said Wednesday it is making extra doses of the prescription flu drug Tamiflu available from the Strategic National Stockpile so states can respond to the sharp rise in flu cases early this year.
Flu season has hit especially hard this year, although it may be reaching its peak in some parts of the country. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been at least 15 million illnesses, 150,000 hospitalizations and 9,300 deaths from the flu this year.
That sharp rise has led to increased demand for over-the-counter drugs, as well as the antiviral Tamiflu in parts of the country, though the Food and Drug Administration has not officially listed the drug in shortage.
Tamiflu can be prescribed to treat the flu in anyone older than 2 weeks.
“Today we are taking steps so that all jurisdictions can meet the increased demand for Tamiflu this flu season. State reserves can be used, and if jurisdictions need access to the Strategic National Reserve, they now have it to respond to the current seasonal flu outbreak,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement.
The flu has not been a serious problem in the last two years because of the precautions people have taken against COVID-19, such as wearing face masks and physical distancing. But a vast majority of the country has turned away from those protections, and as more people enter the colder months, the virus is taking its toll.
Judge rules against confidential teen birth control
A Texas federal judge struck down a rule that allowed teens to access birth control from providers who participate in a federal family planning program without their parents’ permission.
- U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk’s ruling Tuesday could mean teens receiving care through the Title X family planning program will no longer be able to do so confidentially.
- Kacsmaryk ruled that the Title X program, which provides free and confidential contraceptives, cancer screenings and other services to millions of low-income women and men, violates the constitutional right of parents to direct the upbringing of their children.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, Title X clinics are often the only continuous source of medical care and health education for the people who use them.
Kacsmaryk granted summary judgment on Dec. 8 and on Tuesday issued a final ruling striking down the confidentiality portion of the Title X law, though he did not grant an injunction barring clinics from providing birth control to minors without parental consent. .
“Title X-funded providers are considered highly trusted sources of health care information for their patients, and not being able to access confidential care will block a critical pathway to essential health services for young people,” said Clare Coleman, president and executive director of the National Association for Family Planning and Reproductive Health.
NYC MAYOR: PEAK HOLIDAY VIRUS ‘EXTREMELY CHALLENGING’
New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D) said the simultaneous outbreaks of COVID-19, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) have created an “extremely challenging” health situation for the city.
The city indicated that flu cases are already higher than they were during the peak in each of the past four years, and also noted increases over the past month in COVID-19 and RSV cases.
“This year, particularly around the flu, based on the report we received, the numbers are higher than they traditionally are this year,” Adams said at a press conference on Tuesday. “When you combine it with the other elements that we’re dealing with, the other RSV, COVID-19, it makes for a huge challenge for New Yorkers. But we can do well if we cover up.”
Earlier this month, city officials advised the public to wear masks when indoors and in crowded outdoor spaces.
FDA APPROVES NEW MONOCLONAL ANTIBODY FOR COVID PATIENTS
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday approved a monoclonal antibody from Roche to treat COVID-19 in hospitalized adult patients, the company announced.
The drug, called Actemra, was originally approved in 2010 to treat adult patients with moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis. It is the first FDA-approved monoclonal antibody to treat severe COVID-19, the company said.
The drug is intended for the treatment of COVID-19 in hospitalized adult patients receiving certain steroids and requiring supplemental oxygen, mechanical ventilation, or are on life support via extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO).
Last year, the FDA gave emergency use authorization for Actemra to treat severe cases of COVID in adults and children ages 2 to 17. That authorization remains in effect, the company said.
As new variants of the virus have taken hold, antibody treatments have become ineffective. In November, the FDA suspended the authorization of Eli Lilly’s bebtelovimab, which was the last remaining monoclonal antibody treatment against COVID-19, because it was not effective against omicron’s BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 dominant subvariants.
Biden Administration Asks Chief Justice to Approve End of Title 42
On Tuesday night, the Biden administration asked Chief Justice John Roberts to rule against 19 GOP-led states that have sued to keep the controversial Title 42 policy in place.
- The administration was responding to Roberts’ administrative suspension on Monday in which it temporarily halted the end of the policy, which was due to end on Wednesday.
- Title 42 has occupied a central place in the political debate on immigration and border policy.
Title 42 is legally based on an order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to prevent the coronavirus from spreading across the border, but it is now known that the CDC’s involvement in its implementation was the result of political pressure from the Trump White House.
Attorney General Elizabeth Prelogar did not raise questions about the original public health considerations behind Title 42, but told Roberts they are no longer valid, as the CDC issued an emergency termination of its order in April.
“The government has been barred from implementing that rescission by a preliminary injunction in separate litigation…but the government could hardly have sought extraordinary relief to perpetuate a CDC-imposed public health measure that the CDC itself has concluded is no longer justified under public law. health laws,” Preolgar wrote.
WHAT WE ARE READING
- Hundreds of US hospitals are suing patients or threatening their credit (Kaiser Health News)
- The infectious diseases board recommends that hospitals stop testing asymptomatic patients for covid-19 (Statistics)
- Nursing homes risk another wave of covid deaths as vaccines are delayed (Washington Post)
STATE BY STATE
- Pushed ‘to the brink’ by the pandemic, a Mississippi clinic is making a strong comeback (npr)
- As fentanyl use rises, feds urge states to ease methadone rules (status line)
- Kansas approves $15 million to help build a 50-bed state mental health hospital in Wichita (kansas city star)
THE OPEN HILL
That’s all for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s healthcare page for the latest news and coverage. See you tomorrow.