Thursday, December 8, 2011

Thursday Themes

Brrrr. It's definitely winter in Connecticut this morning. Still, we have the news:

Politics is ruling the day on the payroll tax cut, as well as other year-end business, with leaders threatening to stay in session over the Christmas holidays if need be. But nobody's even pretending the that this is not about politics and the Presidential election. The President has warned that he will veto a bill that ties the payroll tax to the Keystone Pipeline. Indeed, he said any effort to tie the payroll tax to another, unrelated matter will be rejected. The President is meeting with House Dems today. He also has said he will forgo his Hawaii vacation if the issue is not resolved. Speaker Boehner says the GOP is working on their own proposal. Speaker Boehner is trying hard to find a solution that his own party can live with. Meanwhile, Congress is trying to finalize a deal on the 2012 budget; the current temporary funding measure expires on December 16.

Secretary of Health & Human Services Kathleen Sebelius rejected the FDA's recommendation to make the morning after pill available at any age. Right now, girls age 16 and 17 still need a prescription for it, while others do not. The FDA recommended lifting the age restriction. No HHS Secretary has every publicly overruled the FDA before. Meanwhile, the White House is still pondering a regulation that will provide an exception for religious objections to the requirement that contraceptives be provided for free -- should the exception cover any employer with any religious affiliation, or just churches?

Interesting patent case. Prometheus labs developed tests to help doctors calibrate the proper dose of 6 mercaptopurine (6MP) and azathioprine. Then the Mayo clinic came up with a test for the same thing. Prometheus says this is patent infringement. Mayo says this is medical research. The Supreme Court will decide.

A scientific panel has found few environmental triggers for breast cancer. Meanwhile, two new breast cancer drugs are in the pipeline with promising results. These drugs, when used in combination with other drugs, appear to slow the progression of disease.

Crowded emergency rooms drive patients to thriving urgent care centers. This is a good thing; urgent care centers often can provide the help needed but for far less money.

California plans an overhaul of its mental health system.

And that's today's news. Have a great day! Jennifer

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