Points of view: Can the problem of drug costs be marked by Cuba? ; Biden’s plan to halve the cancer death rate

Editorial writers focus on these public health topics.

The Washington Post: Can Mark Cuban help save the pharmaceutical industry from itself?

It’s nice to see initiatives like billionaire investor Mark Cuban’s latest effort, the Cost Plus Drug Co. The recently opened online pharmacy will almost certainly, in some cases, literally be a lifeline of rescue. It offers a select group of generic drugs at manufacturer’s price plus a 15% markup and a $3 service charge. (Helaine Olen, 2/2)

USA Today: Cancer Moonshot: Biden plans to drastically reduce death rates

The experience of cancer – of being diagnosed with cancer, of surviving cancer, of losing someone to cancer – has touched virtually every American family. So even as we continue to respond to COVID-19, we must renew our urgency in the fight against cancer. It’s personal to us, and to President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden, who lost their son Beau to brain cancer in 2015. The President then led the Cancer Moonshot: a bold initiative to dramatically accelerate progress against cancer. (Dr. Eric S. Lander and Dr. Danielle Carnival, 2/2)

The Lancet: Managing the Opioid Crisis in North America and Beyond

2020 marked the deadliest year for the opioid epidemic in North America: more than 100,000 drug overdoses were recorded in the United States, with nearly 76,000 attributed to opioids, an increase of around 30% compared to 2019; in Canada, deaths rose 67% in a single year to more than 6,200. The exceptional circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic may have contributed to many overdose deaths by disrupting treatment programs and the access to life-saving drugs like naloxone, and limiting support networks. Yet the opioid epidemic has been an ongoing, complex, decades-long crisis since its inception in 1995, when OxyContin was approved and mismarketed as a safe, low-risk, time-release opioid painkiller. (2/2)

Stat: Hospital spot prices offer new look at health care pricing

There are several common narratives about variations in health care prices: Uninsured consumers are snubbed for full load prices, consumer advocates complain. Insurers with outsized market power are driving down reimbursement for doctors, medical societies say. Providers offer the best prices to payers with larger market shares that bring in high patient volume, doctors say. Recent research exploiting hospital price disclosures has debunked these ducks. (Jackson Williams, 2/3)

Statistic: To improve trust in public health agencies, start with a new mantra

Be the first, be fair, be credible. This is the mantra that public health leaders follow when it comes to communicating with the public in a crisis. Although it is officially promulgated by the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is taught in schools of public health around the world and is a governance philosophy that permeates public health communication. Yet declining public trust in U.S. public health agencies during the pandemic — polling indicates only 52% of Americans trust the CDC, compared to 37% who trust the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration – makes it clear that the health public needs a new risk communication philosophy and a new mantra to go with it. (Evan J. Zimmerman, 2/3)

Kansas City Star: Kansas City black skin specialist retires after 45 years

Only 3% of dermatologists in the country are black. Bertram Caruthers Jr., is one of them, and quite possibly the first African-American skincare specialist in the metro area to open his own practice. For decades, Caruthers has been considered the go-to minority dermatologist in Kansas City. He called it a career this week after 45 years in private practice. “There was nobody else (African American) here when I started my practice” in 1977, Caruthers said in his office on East 63rd Street, just west of Prospect in Kansas City. When we talk about black history in Kansas City, we can’t forget Caruthers, who served primarily a black clientele on both sides of the state line. (Toriano Porter, 2/3)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news outlets. Sign up for an email subscription.

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