What We're Reading: US Declares Coronavirus a Public Health Emergency; FDA Approves Peanut Allergy Drug; California Healthcare Tax Rejected

February 3, 2020

The US declares a public health emergency over the coronavirus outbreak; the FDA approves the first treatment for peanut allergy in children, sold as Palforzia; the Trump administration rejects California's healthcare tax on managed care organizations.

United States Declares a Public Health Emergency Over the Coronavirus

Last Friday, the Trump administration declared a public health emergency due to the coronavirus outbreak, with further action that includes barring entry to the United States of foreign nationals who have traveled to China, according to Reuters. HHS Secretary Alex Azar held a media briefing at the White House on the announcement, which, as of yesterday, will subject US citizens to a mandatory 14-day quarantine if they have traveled to China’s Hubei Province within the last 14 days.

FDA Approves First Treatment for Peanut Allergy

According to an FDA press release on Friday, the agency approved the first drug for treatment of peanut allergy in children. Sold as Palforzia (peanut [Arachis hypogea] allergen powder-dnfp), the treatment works by mitigating allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis, that may occur with accidental exposure to peanuts. The treatment is a powder that is manufactured from peanuts and administered in 3 phases: initial dose escalation, up-dosing, and maintenance. Along with the approval, the FDA is requiring a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) for Palforzia, and patients must be enrolled in the REMS program to receive the drug.

California Healthcare Tax Rejected by Trump Administration

The Trump administration said it will not allow California to collect a healthcare tax on managed care organizations, a move linked to the loss of $2 billion a year for the state in low-income benefits, according to the Associated Press. The decision will affect California’s fiscal year beginning on July 1, 2021, as the state did not plan to receive this income this year. “Consistent with the federal government’s prior approvals of similar financing waivers, we believe and expect that we can reach an agreement that allows this type of financing to continue,” said H.D. Palmer, spokesman for the California Department of Finance.