What We're Reading: Pharma and the Government; Medicaid Work Waiver; Herbal Supplements

Analysis finds ties between pharmaceutical industry and federal government are deepening; Mississippi readies a Medicaid work requirement waiver; research identifies danger of interactions between herbal supplements and prescription medications.

“Revolving Door” Between Pharma and Federal Government

An analysis from Kaiser Health News found that the ties between the pharmaceutical industry and the federal government are deepening. Alex Azar, the newly confirmed HHS secretary, is just the latest example of the so-called “revolving door” connecting the federal government and the drug industry. There are more than 300 former congressional staffers who work for pharma companies or a pharma lobbying firm and nearly a dozen former employees of the drug industry now work for the government.

Mississippi Readies a Medicaid Work Requirement Waiver

Although Medicaid beneficiaries in Kentucky just sued the government over new work requirements to receive benefits, Mississippi is preparing its own waiver request to implement the same restriction. According to The Hill, the state is seeking a 5-year waiver to require able-bodied adults to participate in at least 20 hours of workforce training every week. If beneficiaries aren’t participating in approved activities, such as working, volunteering, or enrolled in a drug treatment program, they will be kicked off Medicaid. Mississippi’s waiver request differs from Kentucky, which had expanded Medicaid and targeted its requirements at those newly eligible beneficiaries.

Herbal Supplements and Prescription Drugs

New research has found that mixing common herbal supplements with prescription medications can result in dangerous interactions. TIME reported that the challenge is that people often don’t tell their healthcare providers what over-the-counter drugs and supplements they take. Herbals supplements can result in medications being less effective. The research found that of 49 cases of adverse drug reactions reviewed, herb—drug interactions were probable for 51%.