What We’re Reading: Deal Reached for FDA User Fee Programs; Link Between COVID-19, T1D; DOJ Protects VA Employees Providing Abortions

A deal was reached to renew 5-year FDA user fee programs; children and adolescents with COVID-19 had a 60% increased risk of developing type 1 diabetes (T1D); states cannot penalize Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) employees for facilitating abortions permitted by federal law.

Senate, House Reach Deal for 5-Year FDA User Fee Programs

Senate and House health committee leaders reached an agreement today to renew FDA user fee programs for the next 5 years, Axios reported. The deals account for about a third of the FDA’s budget, and ensure the agency can pay staff in charge of reviews and approvals for prescription drugs, biologics, and medical devices. If there is no congressional action by the end of September, the agreement will require that the FDA must send out furlough notices to staff and slow down critical work such as drug approvals.

Potential Link Seen Between COVID-19 and T1D Risk

According to research at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, children and adolescents who had COVID-19 were around 60% more likely to develop type 1 diabetes (T1D), Bloomberg reported. This study looked at T1D risk within 30 days of a positive PCR test, and a similar study presented at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes also included young adults and also found increased T1D risk within a month, but no association beyond that time frame. However, the 2 studies did not reveal if COVID-19 can cause T1D. Both sets of authors stressed that other factors such as delays in seeking care during the pandemic, lifestyle changes, and other viruses may also play a role in this finding, and that no causal relationship is confirmed.

DOJ Protects Veterans Affairs Employees Facilitating Abortions

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Wednesday that states cannot penalize Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) employees for providing or facilitating abortions permitted under federal law, The Hill reported. This statement follows last week’s news where the DOJ supported a rule published by the VA that gives its employees access to abortion in cases of rape, incest, or danger to the pregnant person’s life. The DOJ cited the Constitution’s supremacy clause, which gives federal laws priority over state laws, and specifically noted that states cannot penalize VA employees “through criminal prosecution, license revocation proceedings, or civil litigation.” The rule protects doctors, nurses, administrative staff, and others employed by the VA.