Health care – A major barrier to over-the-counter naloxone

We should all try to be less on our phones, but not so much that we are unreachable. Such is the case with the rapper known as Ye, whose former lawyers want to run ads in the newspapers so he knows they no longer represent him.

In health news, Moderna is getting into the market for RSV vaccines for the elderly. But first, let’s take a look at the FDA’s push for over-the-counter naloxone.

Welcome to night health care, where we follow the latest developments in policies and news concerning your health. For The Hill, we are Nathaniel Weixel and Joseph Choi. Did someone forward this newsletter to you?

Those most at risk will not be helped by over-the-counter naloxone

Efforts by the Biden administration to make some forms of opioid overdose reversal medication available over-the-counter will likely have little impact on those who need them most, public health advocates warn.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) late last year began encouraging drug companies to request that certain forms of drugs no longer be prescription-only, a move advocates have long called for as a way to increase access to life-saving medicine.

  • Naloxone is currently only available by prescription, although all 50 states have found workarounds to make the drug available at pharmacies without a prescription.
  • Yet the people who need naloxone the most are also the least likely to go to the pharmacy and ask for it.

Key issue: Only two companies have won expedited priority review to sell naloxone without a prescription, and harm reduction advocates say cost is a major barrier.

The FDA is likely to approve naloxone as a nasal spray, which costs harm reduction groups far more than an injection kit.

“We are really excited to have an OTC [over-the-counter] product on the horizon. But there is a huge, huge caveat,” said Maya Doe-Simkins, co-director of the nonprofit group Remedy Alliance/For The People. “Nasal sprays are just, you know, 10 or 100 times more expensive than generic injectables.”

Learn more here.

Veterans in a suicidal crisis can now request free care

Veterans who are in a suicidal crisis can now seek emergency care at any medical facility at no cost to them.

Starting Tuesday, veterans will have free access to inpatient or residential crisis care for up to 30 days and outpatient care for up to 90 days, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) said in a statement. press last week.

  • The VA says the program will ease the burden of expensive treatment costs for veterans and provide access to acute suicide care for up to 9 million veterans who are not registered with the federal department.
  • “Veterans in a suicidal crisis can now receive the free, world-class emergency healthcare they deserve – no matter where they need it, when they need it, or if they are enrolled in VA care. “Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough said in a statement, adding that “expanding care will save lives.”

Regardless of VA enrollment status, veterans who have been released from active duty after more than 24 months and have not been dishonorably discharged are eligible for the program.

Also eligible are those who have served more than 100 days in a combat operation or those who have been victims of physical or sexual assault in the military.

Suicide prevention is considered the VA’s highest priority. The suicide rate for American veterans is much higher than that of the rest of the adult population, although the number of veteran suicides has begun to decline over the past two years.

Learn more here.


The percentage of Americans who have postponed paying for medical care due to cost has increased over the past year, according to a new Gallup poll.

The poll, released on Tuesday, found that 38% of respondents said they had postponed scheduled medical care payments due to cost, a 12 point increase from the past two years.

The number also marks a new high with the previous peak in 2014 and 2019, when 33% of respondents said they postponed scheduled medical care payments due to cost.

Big worries: Twenty-seven percent of respondents said the delay in treatment in their family was for a condition considered “very” or “somewhat” serious, while 11% of respondents said the delay in treatment was for a condition considered as “not very” or “not at all” serious.

The latest Gallup poll was conducted from November 9 to December 2 with a total of 1,020 respondents. The poll’s margin of error was plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Learn more here.


Moderna’s respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine was 83% effective in preventing lower respiratory tract disease in adults aged 60 and older in a large clinical trial, the company announced Tuesday.

Based on the results, Moderna said it intends to submit the vaccine for Food and Drug Administration approval in the first half of 2023.

Moderna said the vaccine was 83.7% effective in preventing two key symptoms, such as fever, cough or difficulty breathing.

The vaccine was 82.4% effective in preventing severe cases of RSV with three or more symptoms present, the company said.

Why it matters: There is no vaccine against RSV for adults or children. In healthy adults and older children, RSV usually causes mild cold-like symptoms that resolve with moderate rest and self-care. But it can lead to serious illnesses in infants and the elderly.

The announcement places Moderna in a crowded marketplace of RSV vaccines for the elderly, including giants GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer.

Both companies have sought FDA approval for their respective RSV vaccines and are awaiting decisions in May.

Learn more here.

Walgreens lifts online limit for children’s painkillers

Walgreens has lifted a limit it placed on online purchases of children’s pain relievers after receiving increased supply to meet growing demand nationwide.

The retail and drugstore chain announced last month that it must limit the amount of children’s pain relief products a consumer can buy to six per online transaction to prevent overbuying. The company said its retailers across the country were struggling with supplier satisfaction issues due to increased demand.

  • But Walgreens said in a statement Monday that it was able to remove the limit thanks to increased inventory of its over-the-counter children’s fever products.
  • “Walgreens has worked diligently with our suppliers to ensure we have enough supply to meet customer demand nationwide,” the statement said.

CVS also announced a limit on online and in-store purchases of pediatric painkillers, two per customer, at the same time Walgreens announced its own last month.

Many children across the country have been affected by what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called a “tripledemic” of COVID-19, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

Learn more here.


  • Recovery from sickle cell disease brings a mixture of anxiety and hope (The New York Times)
  • Airplane toilets offer new hope for CDC variant hunt (Politico)
  • 988 Lifeline Sees Usage and Funding Rise in First Months (NPR)


That’s all for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s healthcare page for the latest news and coverage. Until tomorrow.

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