What We're Reading: Panel Gives Nod to FluMist; Azar Talks About Pricing; Drug Overdose Deaths Drop

February 22, 2018

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted 12-2 to return the injectable nasal spray flu vaccine FluMist to the CDC list of recommended vaccines; HHS Secretary Alex Azar suggested that action on drug prices could happen without Congress; drug overdose deaths fell in 14 states.

Panel Votes to Return FluMist to Market

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted 12-2 Wednesday to return the injectable nasal spray flu vaccine FluMist to market, although the move is likely too late for next winter’s flu season, Stat reported. The ACIP dropped FluMist from the list of recommended vaccines starting in the 2016-2017 flu season after CDC studies showed that the vaccine component targeting H1N1 flu viruses was not protective. The company that makes FluMist, MedImmune, later replaced the virus component.

Azar Suggests Action on Drug Prices Could Happen Without Congress

HHS Secretary Alex Azar told an Indianapolis TV station that his department is working on additional proposals aimed at high drug prices, including some that could be enacted without Congress. The Hill reported on an interview he gave NBC affiliate WTHR in Indianapolis, where he talked about the administration’s budget proposals, including a cap on out-of-pocket spending for enrollees in Medicare’s prescription drug program and allowing up to 5 states to jointly negotiate Medicaid drug prices. Azar was not specific about additional actions, but said there were more proposals that “we'll move forward with on our own authority if we're able."

Drug Overdose Deaths Fall in 14 States

In a sign of hope in the opioid epidemic, provisional data from the CDC show that drug overdose deaths fell in 14 states during the 12-month period ending in July 2017, the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Stateline Daily reported. The reported drop in overdose deaths occurred in Wyoming, Utah, Washington, Alaska, Montana, Mississippi, Kansas, Rhode Island, Oregon, California, Tennessee, Massachusetts, Arizona, and Hawaii. However, several states saw overdose rates rise by more than 30%, most likely because of the increasing presence of fentanyl. Those states are Delaware, Florida, New Jersey, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, along with the District of Columbia.