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Latest From California Healthline:
American marijuana has a reputation for being the best in the world. But the federal prohibition on marijuana makes shipments across state lines or overseas a pipe dream. While U.S. firms expect the restrictions to drop in the coming years, they are stuck operating within state borders. That’s left Canadian cannabis growers to dominate the export market, with U.S. firms falling further behind each year. (Markian Hawryluk, 1/3)
News Of The Day
Good morning! The Trump administration formally released its ban on most vaping flavors, which many consider a compromise between public health advocates and the e-cigarette industry. But critics decry the softer rules, saying that a ban that doesn’t include menthol is “no ban at all.” More on that below, but first here are some of your top California health stories for the day.
What Determines Whether Each California City Is Doing Its ‘Fair Share’ To Combat Homeless Crisis?: Cities haven’t always been in step with one another in deciding how to respond to their homeless populations. For some, fair share could mean cities developing separate shelters to serve their own homeless populations. Others might contend it makes more sense to develop larger-scale facilities serving and supported by multiple cities. The potential benefits of a unified response are clear, though, according to Costa Mesa Mayor Pro Tem John Stephens. “If everybody did their fair share, then you wouldn’t have to worry about that issue of … one city’s homeless folks being attracted to another city,” he said. Hanging over all this are perhaps the trickiest questions: Who should determine the fair share, and how? Read more from Luke Money, Faith E. Pinho, Hillary Davis and Priscella Vega of The Daily Pilot.
California Pharmacy Employees Only Give Correct Prescription Disposal Advice About Half The Time: Researchers interviewed employees at close to 900 pharmacies in California to determine how often pharmacists and pharmacy technicians gave consumers the right drug disposal information. They found that 42 percent provided the correct antibiotic disposal information and 19 percent provided the correct opioid disposal instructions. Consumers often received better information during weekdays; rural pharmacies performed better those in urban areas; pharmacists gave accurate information more often than technicians, although only marginally. “It was not completely surprising that about half gave correct antibiotic information but we were surprised by how few gave correct opioid information,” said Dr. Rachel Selekman, the lead author of the study and a pediatric neurologist at Children’s National Hospital in Washington DC. Read more from Michael Finch of the Sacramento Bee.
Below, check out the full round-up of California Healthline original stories, state coverage and the best of the rest of the national news for the day.
More News From Across The State
Several state lawmakers in California took action by drafting legislation to tighten requirements for operators and provide more protections for both care workers and seniors. The Assembly’s Human Services and Aging and Long-Term Care committees are considering potential legislative fixes with the state agency that oversees licensing that will be unveiled later this month. (Gollan, 1/3)
With courthouses open for business Thursday, Griffin joined other middle-aged Californians lining up to file lawsuits over sexual assault they say they suffered as children. A state law that took effect New Year’s Day opens a “window” for such claims that otherwise would be too old to bring in court. (Woolfolk, 1/2)
One lot of clinical depression treatment Mirtazapine has been recalled because the tablets in the bottle might be twice as strong as the bottle’s label indicates. Aurobindo’s FDA-posted recall notice says the labels on lot No. 03119002A3, expiration 03/2022, say the 500-count bottles should have 7.5 mg tablets of the medicine also sold under the brand name Remeron. Problem is, the bottles might have 15 mg tablets. (Neal, 1/2)
With a large jump in emergency department activity and nearly twice as many confirmed cases, the heaviest part of flu season now appears to be underway across the region, according to the latest weekly influenza report from the county health department. Last week, 8 percent of local emergency cases showed flu symptoms, a rate that is three percentage points higher than it was two weeks ago. The spike pushes the current flu season into the most severe activity level delineated by the U.S. Centers for disease Control and Prevention. (Sisson, 1/2)
After The Sacramento Bee premiered the new documentary “S.A.C.” on the death and legacy of Stephon Clark, we asked readers how they were impacted by the March 2018 police shooting.Many who responded said the shooting was an all-too-familiar story in the United States — another unarmed black man shot and killed by local police officers. Others said it was a painful warning that a similar fate could befall their friends or family. (Yoon-Hendricks, 1/3)
San Francisco city officials have reached a tentative agreement to settle a lawsuit with 217 inmates in the county jail where overflowing sewage leaked for more than a year after faulty plumbing burst in late 2016. At the time, hazmat crews evacuated some offices to install a trap device — further backing up sewage, officials said. The sewage began to spill out of toilets and pipes in the jail at the beginning of 2017, continuing until September 2018. (Garces and Chang, 1/2)
The busiest undeveloped intersection in Bakersfield has a new suitor. Irvine-based Pursue Health LLC aspires to coordinate the development of a skilled nursing facility at the corner of Coffee Road and Stockdale Highway, across from the Town & Country Village Shopping Center. Pursue Health, which has not yet purchased the land in question, is hosting a neighborhood meeting at Stockdale Country Club at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 9, where residents are invited to "learn about the newest planned project" at that well-traveled corner of Bakersfield. (Price, 1/2)
Two San Diego doctors specializing in ophthalmology have paid the federal government $950,000 to settle allegations of fraudulently billing Medicare for treatments, including care by physicians who were not properly certified, prosecutors announced Thursday. The two medical doctors, identified by prosecutors as Mark D. Smith and Fane Robinson of San Diego Retina Associates, agreed to the payment to settle a whistleblower lawsuit filed June 11, 2018, by a former partner, Dr. Atul Jain, in federal district court, according to an announcement Thursday by Robert S. Brewer, Jr., U.S. Attorney in San Diego. (Cook, 1/2)
The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday ordered companies to stop manufacturing, distributing and selling most cartridge-based e-cigarette flavors — including mint and fruity flavors — by early February, saying the crackdown is urgently needed to stem a surge in teen vaping. The deadline was announced as the Trump administration officially unveiled its long-debated vaping policy. (McGinley, 1/2)
The new ban does not extend to refillable, tank-based vaping systems purchased in most vape shops, which users can fill with flavored e-liquid. It also excludes menthol-flavored cartridges. Together, the two exemptions represent a major retreat from an earlier White House plan to bar all flavors other than tobacco. The new policy will also leave Juul, the leading e-cigarette among teens, largely untouched. The company suspended nationwide sales of sweet flavors like mango and cucumber in October, then added mint to the list in November. It still sells menthol pods. (Baumgaertner, 1/2)
Roughly 80 percent of the Republicans in Congress — 39 senators and 166 House members — and two centrist House Democrats signed the amicus, or “friend of the court,” brief in the case of June Medical Services L.L.C. v. Gee. They also asked the justices to consider overturning another landmark abortion ruling in the 1992 case Planned Parenthood v. Casey. “The court has exercised that judgment to overrule precedent in over 230 cases throughout its history,” the lawmakers wrote. “Forty-six years after Roe was decided, it remains a radically unsettled precedent: Two of the seven justices who originally joined the majority subsequently repudiated it in whole or in part, and virtually every abortion decision since has been closely divided.” (Stolberg, 1/2)
Who won the 2020 battle of the diets? For the third year in a row, the well-researched Mediterranean diet KO'd the competition to win gold in US News and World Report's 2020 ranking of best diets. The report, released Thursday, is now in its 10th year. (LaMotte, 1/2)
For instance, Gilead Sciences (GILD) increased prices for several HIV pills by 4.8%, Biogen (BIIB) boosted its Tecfidera Multiple Sclerosis treatment by 6%, Eli Lilly (LLY) raised the cost of two diabetes medicines by 6%, and Pfizer (PFE) increased the list price of its Prevnar vaccine for pneumococcal disease by 7.3%. Notably, AbbVie (ABBV) boosted the price of its Humira rheumatoid arthritis treatment by 7.4%, and this comes after the company reached deals with several other drug makers to delay competition in the U.S. until 2023. (Silverman, 1/2)
The Trump administration has built up the biggest backlog of unfunded toxic Superfund clean-up projects in at least 15 years, nearly triple the number that were stalled for lack of money in the Obama era, according to 2019 figures quietly released by the Environmental Protection Agency over the winter holidays. The accumulation of Superfund projects that are ready to go except for money comes as the Trump administration routinely proposes funding cuts for Superfund and for the EPA in general. (Knickmeyer, Brown and White, 1/3)
As the decade changes and we consider the state of women's health in America, who better to turn to than the authors of five taboo-busting books from 2019 that took on issues that generations of women haven't been talking about, but need to. We asked these outspoken doctors and health advocates to give us their Top 7 messages to women for 2020. Here's what they said. (Vaughn, 1/2)
More than a year after the devastating Camp Fire, thousands of victims are still burned out of house and home. So why on earth are government agencies trying to take what’s been put aside for them to rebuild? Pacific Gas & Electric Company, the utility that’s been named responsible for igniting historically calamitous wildfires in 2017 and 2018, declared bankruptcy nearly a year ago. The process has been tumultuous, and one of the reasons why is the unusually large number of creditors seeking to be made whole in any company settlement. (1/3)
Gavin Newsom’s demand that PG&E put safety before profits must not undermine California’s green energy goals. The financial impacts of the utility’s bankruptcy threatens the state’s ambitious climate policy. No matter what becomes of PG&E, it’s imperative that the governor treat progress on safety and green energy efforts as co-equals. (12/24)
Fixing the housing crisis should not be a partisan issue. Housing is an American issue and is at the core of what it means to live the American Dream. Voters should insist that whoever wins in November, whether it’s President Trump or one of his Democratic challengers, tackle this issue. As president of the National League of Cities, I created a bipartisan task force of local leaders from across the country to shine a light on the key issues impacting our nation’s cities, towns and villages. (Joe Buscaino, 12/30)
This year has been the worst on record for mass killings, with more than 40 attacks in which four or more people were killed. This has also been one of the worst years in recent history for attacks on religious groups or places of worship. On Sunday, a shooting at a church in White Settlement, Texas, left two dead and one critically wounded. This follows a mass stabbing that injured at least five people at a rabbi’s house in New York state Saturday, and a mass shooting at a kosher grocery store in Jersey City, N.J., earlier this month, which killed three. (Jillian Peterson and James Densley, 12/30)
When I first met A.J., she was 23, homeless and hooked on heroin in Venice. Her addiction began with pain pills prescribed after surgery. When the prescriptions ended, A.J.’s post-surgical pain was no longer the concern: The pain of withdrawal was. Withdrawal is like the flu but exponentially worse. It causes fatigue, muscle and bone aches, vomiting, diarrhea and anxiety – all of which can be temporarily relieved with more opioids. For A.J., heroin was her relief. (Chung, 12/26)
California’s updated employment classification law, AB5, took effect on Wednesday. The law provides significant protections to the hundreds of thousands of Californians who currently work without basic workplace guardrails like a minimum wage, unemployment insurance and protection against on-the-job discrimination and sexual harassment — if employers had any intention of following it. But many of the employers the law was clearly intended to cover are simply planning to break it. (Rachel Dempsey, 1/2)
As he finishes his first year as California governor, there’s one important metric on which the famously data-driven Gavin Newsom can breathe easy: his approval rating. In a November poll from the Public Policy Institute, 48% of likely voters said they approved of the job Newsom was doing as governor. There’s plenty of room for improvement in Newsom’s ratings, of course, but they actually represent an increase from his inauguration, when he had a 43% approval rating. (12/29)
Automation is changing America. Robots already operate rescue missions and build our cars, and they may soon be assisting in surgery and teaching our children. As many as 73 million American jobs could be lost to automation by 2030, and economists have written at length about the consequences of this transformation. However, automation may have implications beyond the economy, and few have considered how robots will change America’s social fabric. (Joshua Conrad Jackson, Kurt Gray and Noah Castelo, 1/1)
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