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What We're Reading: Azar's Confirmation Hearings; New Opioid Czar; Long-Term Impact of Trauma


Alex Azar faces skepticism regarding his ability to regulate drug prices given his past employment; Kellyanne Conway is named America's opioid czar; a study finds childhood trauma can have a generational impact.

HHS Secretary Nominee Faces Tough Questions

During hearings on his nomination for HHS secretary, Alex Azar faced tough questions about how he would handle high drug costs. According to The New York Times, Azar faced distrust about claims to regulate the drug industry because of his past experience as an executive at Eli Lilly. While most Republicans viewed his experience in the drug industry as a benefit to help him understand and improve drug prices, Democrats and Senator Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, expressed skepticism due to Eli Lilly’s own past of steep drug price hikes.

Kellyanne Conway Named Opioid Czar

In response to the continued opioid epidemic in the United States, President Donald Trump has appointed Kellyanne Conway, who is currently serving as counselor to Trump, as the country’s “opioid czar.” Whether or not Conway will focus solely on this new position, or continue to work as a counselor is unclear, reported Newsweek. Conway’s job as czar will be to “change the perception” around opioids. When Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the appointment, he also said that all US attorney offices will designate an opioid coordinator to “determine which cases should be prosecuted at the federal level.”

Trauma Can Have Generational Effects

Childhood trauma can have long-lasting effects and even increase the risk of serious psychiatric disorders for the daughters of women exposed to trauma. A new study tracked the health of female and male children born to children evacuated during World War II and found the female children of mothers were more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric illness. No effects were found among male children born to the women or among children of either gender both to fathers who had been evacuated as children. The researchers postulate that traumatic events can change gene expression, which is inherited from mother to daughter.

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