What We're Reading: House Panel Seeks Opioid Data; Title X and STDs; Questions About Alcohol Study

June 12, 2018

Republican and Democratic members on the House Energy and Commerce Committee questioned whether the FDA's criminal investigators are effective at blocking illegal drugs, including unapproved opioids, at US ports of entry; public health officials worry proposed HHS changes to move family planning funding toward groups that may not provide reproductive health and sexual health services will cripple other federal efforts to curb a rise in sexually transmitted diseases; leaders of a now-shelved, controversial study examining whether moderate drinking is beneficial for human health may have violated federal law.

Bipartisan Letter From House Committee Seeks Info From FDA on Efforts to Stop Illegal Drugs

Public Health Officials Fear Impact of Title X Changes on STDs

Republican and Democratic members on the House Energy and Commerce Committee questioned whether the FDA's criminal investigators are doing enough to stop illegal drugs, including unapproved opioids, at US ports of entry, Reuters reported. Republican Chairman Greg Walden and leading Democrat Frank Pallone wrote to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, asking the agency to provide statistical data about the cases being generated through the port of entry initiative and its prosecution track record by June 22. The FDA's Office of Criminal Investigations has been under scrutiny after Reuters published articles in 2016 about the office’s approach to criminal investigations.Proposed HHS changes to move family planning funding toward groups that may not provide reproductive health and sexual health services and away from organizations that provide abortions could cripple other federal efforts to curb an explosion in sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), some public health officials told Kaiser Health News. If rules are adopted in their current form, Title X services would have to be physically and financially separate from abortion services. Title X grants fund family planning, STD screening, and breast and cervical cancer screening at nearly 4000 sites nationwide. Fewer funds would mean fewer resources available for STD screening, treatment, and outreach.

Researcher Claims Controversial Alcohol Study Lacked Proper Approvals

Leaders of a now-shelved controversial study examining whether moderate drinking is beneficial for human health may have violated federal law, STAT news reported. Public health researcher Michael Siegel, MD, of Boston University, said the federal officials soliciting funding for it from alcohol beverage makers failed to seek a form of regulatory approval from the FDA intended to protect study participants and ensure they understand the possible health risks of the research. The hospital whose physician designed the trial said it was their understanding that the regulatory approval, known as an investigational new drug application, was not required.