Target Ends Sale of Dangerous Baby Mattresses, as NJ Considers Statewide Ban

Tap into Morristown, December 19, 2016. Supplemental mattresses are mattresses sold individually, can be bought for use with play yards, and are advertised as safe. According to U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission data from 2000 through 2013, at least 15 children died while sleeping on supplemental mattresses. These deaths involved a child being wedged between gaps created when the supplemental mattress was added to the play yard or portable crib. “The evidence is clear: These supplemental mattresses can kill children,” says Dr. Diana Zuckerman, Ph.D., President of the National Center for Health Research. “They should be banned. As someone who was born and raised in New Jersey, I’m proud to see my home state on the forefront of this important issue.”

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Doctors Argue Leadless Pacemakers Deserve Broader Medicare Coverage

Modern Healthcare, December 20, 2016. Physicians want wider Medicare coverage for leadless pacemakers, arguing the current reimbursement proposal puts the device out of reach for too many patients. Experts agreed with the CMS that more research is needed. Evidence shows that while the leadless pacemaker eliminates some of the key drawbacks of existing pacemakers, they also increase the likelihood of some complications and may introduce new ones, according to Dr. Jay Ronquillo, director of biomedical informatics at the National Center for Health Research, a no-for-profit think tank focused on health research. “At this point, there is no reason for patients to feel cheated if Medicare doesn’t cover the cost of leadless pacemakers, because leadless pacemakers may be no better, and possibly worse, than pacemakers with leads,” Ronquillo said.

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Potential FDA Head Could Change Drug Approval Process Dramatically

Big Think, December 17, 2016. President elect Donald Trump has had several controversial cabinet picks so far for his administration. But in the medical community many are especially concerned over the possible tapping of Jim O’Neill for head of the FDA. While one of the FDA’s main jobs is approving medications, O’Neill said in a speech in 2014 that medications should be evaluated for safety only, what he called “progressive approval.” President of the National Center for Health Research, Diana Zuckerman, told The Hill that such a move would toss insurance companies into limbo. Being unable to rest on FDA approval when deciding coverage, such a move would, throw the entire U.S. healthcare system into turmoil.”

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A Major Shortcoming in the Public Health Legacy of the Obama Administration

American Journal of Public Health, December 16, 2016. The Obama Administration has been a strong voice for many public health issues, including tobacco control, childhood obesity, and reproductive health. The Affordable Care Act is also a major accomplishment. But, under the same administration, the FDA caved into political pressure by approving medical products based on lower standards of scientific evidence. What will happen going forward?

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Congress Just Quietly Handed Drug Companies a Dangerous Victory

New Republic, December 14, 2016. Christmas came early for the pharmaceutical industry this year. Last week, the Senate followed the House in passing the 21st Century Cures Act. Though this bill has been lauded by liberals for providing much-needed funds for medical research, its real impact will be elsewhere. Whereas drug approval traditionally required the demonstration of real clinical benefit in a randomized clinical trial, under the Act drug firms will increasingly be able to rely on flimsier forms of evidence for approval of their therapies (incremental steps in this direction, it is worth noting, have already occurred). The Act, by reconfiguring the drug regulatory process, lowers the standards for drug approval—a blessing for drug makers, but an ill omen for public health.

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