Posts tagged with "Health and Human Services"

Trump berates Fauci for criticism of slow virus response

April 14, 2020

In his efforts to reframe the story of how he responded—late and less than adequately—to the looming COVID-19 crisis, President Donald Trump has collided fast and hard with the truth , as told by the government’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci.

The doctor said again last week that more lives could have been saved if the country had been shut down earlier—sending Trump into a Twitter rant, The New York Times reported.

Frustrated by Dr. Fauci’s reluctance to toe the party line, Trump reposted a Twitter message that said “Time to #FireFauci” as he rejected criticism of his slow initial response to the pandemic that has now killed more than 22,000 people in the United States. The president privately has been irritated at times with Dr. Fauci, but the Twitter post was the most explicit he has been in letting that show publicly the news outlet said.

The message that the president retweeted came from a former Republican congressional candidate whom Trump had suported. “Fauci is now saying that had Trump listened to the medical experts earlier he could’ve saved more lives,” said the tweet by DeAnna Lorraine, who got less than 2% of the vote in an open primary against Speaker Nancy Pelosi last month. “Fauci was telling people on February 29 that there was nothing to worry about and it posed no threat to the US at large. Time to #Fire Fauci.”

In reposting the message, Trump added: “Sorry Fake News, it’s all on tape. I banned China long before people spoke up.”

The Times pointed out that the tweet came amid a flurry of messages blasted out by the president on Sunday, April 12, defending his handling of the coronavirus, which has come under sharp criticism, and pointing the finger instead at China, the World Health Organization, President Barack Obama, the nation’s governors, Congress, Democrats generally and the news media.

In truth, Trump did not “ban China,” but he did block foreign nationals who had been in China in the past 14 days from coming into the United States,  starting on February 2. Despite the policy, 40,000 Americans and other authorized travelers have still come into the country from China since then.

Dr. Fauci and other public health experts were initially skeptical that the China travel restrictions would be useful when the president was first considering them, but then changed their minds and told Alex M. Azar II, the secretary of Health and Human Services, on the morning of January 30 that they supported them.

The president has repeatedly pointed back to those travel limits to defend his handling of the pandemic, but experts have said the limits were useful mainly to buy time that the administration did not then use to ramp up widespread testing and impose social distancing policies before infections could begin growing exponentially.

By the third week of February, advisers had drafted a list of measures they believed would soon be necessary, like school closures, sports and concert cancellations and stay-at-home orders, but the president did not embrace them until mid-March.

Dr. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, said on Sunday that earlier imposition of such policies would have made a difference.

“I mean, obviously, you could logically say that if you had a process that was ongoing and you started mitigation earlier, you could have saved lives,” he said on “State of the Union” on CNN. “Obviously, no one is going to deny that. But what goes into those kinds of decisions is complicated. But you’re right. Obviously, if we had, right from the very beginning, shut everything down, it may have been a little bit different. But there was a lot of pushback about shutting things down.”

Dr. Fauci has become a celebrated figure among much of the public, which trusts him far more than Mr. Trump, according to polls. A Quinnipiac University survey last week found that 78% of Americans approved of Dr. Fauci’s handling of the crisis compared with 46% who approved of the president’s response. 

Research contact: @nytimes

A remedy for rip-offs: HHS announces plans to import lower-cost drugs from Canada

August 1, 2019

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced on July 31 that the agency, in concert with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA, is publishing a Safe Importation Action Plan for procuring certain drugs originally intended for foreign markets.

Among the medications that U.S. patients would be able to procure at lower prices would be insulin used to treat diabetes, as well as drugs used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disorders, and cancer.

Specifically, according to a report by the Associated Press, the Trump administration said Wednesday it will create a pathway allowing Americans to legally and safely import lower-cost prescription drugs from Canada for the first time, reversing years of opposition from federal health authorities amid a public outcry over high prices for life-sustaining medication

“President Trump has been clear: For too long American patients have been paying exorbitantly high prices for prescription drugs that are made available to other countries at lower prices,” stated said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, adding, “When we released the President’s drug pricing blueprint for putting American patients first, we said we are open to all potential solutions to combat high drug prices that protect patient safety, are effective at delivering lower prices, and respect choice, innovation and access.”

Azar further noted, “This is the next important step in the Administration’s work to end foreign freeloading and put American patients first.”

The Action Plan outlines the government’s intention to pursue two pathways to allow safe drug importation from foreign markets:

  1. Through a notice of proposed rule-making (NPRM), HHS and FDA would propose to rely on the authority under current federal law (Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, Section 804) that would, when the rule is finalized, authorize pilot (or demonstration) projects developed by states, wholesalers or pharmacists and submitted for HHS review, outlining how they would import certain drugs from Canada that are versions of FDA-approved drugs that are manufactured consistent with the FDA approval. The NPRM would include conditions to ensure the importation poses no additional risk to the public’s health and safety and that the demonstration projects would achieve significant cost savings to the American consumer.
  2. Through guidance, FDA would provide recommendations to manufacturers of FDA-approved drugs who seek to import into the U.S. versions of those drugs they sell in foreign countries. Under this pathway, manufacturers would use a new National Drug Code (NDC) for those products, potentially allowing them to offer a lower price than what their current distribution contracts require. To use this pathway, the manufacturer or entity authorized by the manufacturer would establish with the FDA that the foreign version is the same as the U.S. version and appropriately label the drug for sale in the United States. This pathway could be particularly helpful to patients who take significantly high-cost prescription drugs.

“We support the President and Secretary’s efforts to bring down drug prices for Americans. The FDA has a unique role to play in promoting competition that in turn can help reduce drug prices and improve access to medicine for Americans,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless, M.D. “Driving down drug prices requires a comprehensive approach and we must continue to look at all innovative solutions to this challenge.”

Research contact: digital@hhs.gov