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What We’re Reading: Public Support Programs End With PHE; FDA Advisers Favor OTC Birth Control; Insulin Cost Testimony

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The end of the national Public Health Emergency (PHE) also concludes some public support programs; FDA advisers unanimously recommended that the agency should approve OTC birth control pills; insulin manufacturers and pharmacy benefit managers testified on Capitol Hill Wednesday over the cost of the drug.

End of Public Health Emergency Marks End of Safety-Net Programs

The formal conclusion of the national Public Health Emergency Thursday symbolizes the nation’s official emergence from the COVID-19 pandemic. However, according to the Associated Press, many essential aspects of America’s pandemic-era emergency safety net are also ending, from extra food aid to automatic Medicaid reenrollment. While these safeguards were designed to be temporary, their termination is creating hardship and confusion, according to charity organizations and recipients.

FDA Advisers Say Pros Outweigh Cons for OTC Birth Control Pill

A panel of FDA advisers unanimously voted Wednesday that the benefits outweigh the risks of making an OTC birth control pill available, signifying a momentous step in the multidecade effort to make oral contraception accessible without a prescription in the United States, reported The New York Times. If the FDA approves OTC sales of the norgestrel (Opill) pill this summer, it could considerably expand contraceptive access. However, FDA scientists raised concerns about whether women with medical conditions that should preclude them from taking the pill would follow warnings and avoid the drug.

Insulin Manufacturers Testify Over Cost on Capitol Hill

Heads of major insulin manufacturers and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) exchanged blame for insulin’s high cost on Wednesday while testifying at a US Senate committee hearing on increasing the life-saving drug’s affordability, according to Reuters. Those testifying Wednesday were the CEOs of major insulin makes Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk, and Sanofi, which combined control 90% of the US market, and top PBM executives from large payers who control 80% of the prescription drug market.

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