THE WAY FORWARD OPENS FOR NIH NOM — Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) told POLITICO they are supporting Dr. Monica Bertagnolli to lead the NIH, which will help her overtake the Senate HELP chair. Bernie Sanders‘opposition.
She is scheduled for a committee vote today, which, given Republican support, will likely put her on track to be confirmed by the full Senate. The NIH has not had a confirmed director since late 2021. Unless other Democrats defect, Bertagnolli will have enough votes to pass the full Senate, which requires a simple majority vote.
Confirmation had been in jeopardy after the Vermont Democrat said Tuesday that vote against her over concerns that she will not “take on the greed and power of pharmaceutical companies and the health care industry,” POLITICO’s Erin Schumaker, David Lim and Ben report.
Sanders’ opposition had left the White House needing some support from the other side of the aisle. The White House reminded the senator that President Joe Biden had signed the Inflation Reduction Law becomes law, allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices for the first time. “The president shares the senator’s concerns about drug prices,” a White House official told POLITICO.
While Sanders managed to delay Bertagnolli’s nomination and got a “commitment… from the White House continue to work to reduce the price of prescription drugs,” their position has become largely symbolic.
He also delayed naming the director of the National Cancer Institute until the administration promised to do more to lower drug prices. He stopped doing so in September and scheduled his hearing after the federal government reached a deal with the biotech company Regeneron that included a reasonable price provision for a Covid therapy it is developing with federal assistance.
Earlier this week, Sanders called for an investigation from the NIH on an exclusive patent for an NIH-developed cancer treatment that the agency proposed in September.
What other Republicans think: It’s unclear how much more Republican support Bertagnolli will get. So far, only one Republican on the committee has come out strongly against it: Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.). Sen. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) told POLITICO: “I would probably lean towards ‘no’ right now.”
Ranking Member Bill Cassidy (R-La.) declined to say Tuesday afternoon how he would vote. Sen. Marshall (R-Kan.) said Tuesday that he hadn’t decided yet, and Sen. rand paul (R-Ky.) declined to say. Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) said he’s still thinking about it and Sen. Lisa Murkowski(R-Alaska) declined to answer a question while addressing the Senate chamber.
WELCOME TO WEDNESDAY PULSE. We’re excited about the apparent last gasp of summer weather coming to DC later this week. Contact us at [email protected] either [email protected]. Follow along @_BenLeonard_ and @ChelseaCirruzzo.
TODAY IN OUR PULSE CHECK PODCAST, Host Katherine Ellen Foley speaks with Chelsea, who met with new CDC Director Mandy Cohen to discuss her efforts to regain public trust in the sometimes-beleaguered agency and her plans for the future of the CDC. .
12 MILLION VACCINATED — The Biden administration’s annual campaign to persuade Americans to get vaccinated annually against Covid-19 is off to a slow start compared to last year.
Still, the country’s top public health official said the United States remains “on track” to reach last year’s consumption levels, which peaked at 17 percent of the US population..
So far, 12 million people, or about 3.6 percent of the U.S. population, have received the vaccine in the five weeks since it arrived in pharmacies. although reporting delays mean it is likely to be slightly higherDr. Mandy Cohen, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told Chelsea.
More people, at least 16 million adults) are getting their annual flu shot, Cohen said, attributing the difference to Americans’ ingrained routines.
Cohen is in the in the middle of a national tour promoting vaccinationtargeting older Americans at high risk of severe illness from Covid, as well as underserved communities.
The goal: The agency has not defined what it would consider a success in the fall vaccination campaign, but Cohen called the 17 percent bivalent booster coverage seen last season a “fair benchmark.”
RSV SHOOTING DEMAND ‘UNDERESTIMATED’ — Makers of a new shot to protect babies against respiratory syncytial virus “definitely underestimated demand,” CDC Director Mandy Cohen said Tuesday.
“We were told there were no supply limitations,” he told POLITICO. “That’s not the case, obviously.”
His comments came the day after the CDC urged doctors to ration the limited number of doses amid supply shortages and a seasonal rise in cases, Chelsea reports.
Cohen said his agency is pushing Sanofi and its partner AstraZeneca, which make the therapy, to accelerate the release of doses the companies have been holding back for later in the RSV season.
A Sanofi spokesperson declined to say how many doses the companies are missing or when it would deliver more. The spokesperson reiterated the company’s earlier statement that demand for the shot “exceeded estimates” and confirmed that the company was coordinating with the CDC to manage supply.
RFK JR. GET AN ANTI-VAX BOOST – Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s presidential campaign has received more than $400,000 from people who practice alternative medicine or hold fringe beliefs about health care and treatments since its launch in April, according to newly released revelations analyzed by Megan R. Wilson from POLITICO.
The money comes from chiropractors, acupuncturists, herbalists, energy healers, homeopathic doctors, hypnotherapists and specialists in rolfing, a treatment focused on the body’s connective tissue that some consider a pseudoscience. Other donors, according to FEC filings: a “dolphin ambassador” who offers energy healing sessions with dolphins for humans and an animal medium who communicates with people’s dead pets.
Notable donors include Dr. Pierre Kory, co-founder of the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance, a group that promoted the off-label use of ivermectin to prevent and treat Covid, who contributed $3,815.
Kennedy’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment on the donations.
BUSH UPS PEPFAR PUSH — Former President George W. Bush is stepping up his Commits to protecting the world’s leading program against HIV/AIDS which he created in 2003, reports POLITICO’s Carmen Paun.
Some Republicans say the Biden administration is supporting abortion abroad through the program, called the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, by funding groups abroad that also offer abortions. Democrats and Biden deny the accusation.
The George W. Bush Institute and 30 other religious, democracy, global health and human rights groups wrote to Congress today, pushing for lawmakers to reauthorize PEPFAR, which expired at the end of September. It is the first time the Bush camp has publicly endorsed reauthorization of the program.
While touting the estimated 25 million lives the program is credited with saving over its two decades of existence, the letter also argues to Congress that PEPFAR is an asset for the United States abroad as the United States competes with China and Russia. for influence in Africa.
The path forward is unclear. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he is working to extend the program, potentially for less than the usual five years. President of Foreign Relations of the Senate Ben Cardin (D-Md.) said late last month that he would continue pushing for a five-year renewal.
Ilse Zúñiga, HHS’s top adviser for public health communications is leaving the department after nearly two years as part of its communications department, POLITICO’s Adam Cancryn reports. Zúñiga plans to join AARP as the organization’s media relations director.
Healthcare Dive writes about a report It found that more than 2 million people would gain coverage if states that have not yet expanded Medicaid did so.
In a STAT op-ed, Kristina Carvalho wonders whether “dementia villages” work.
CNN reports about the potential of take-home flu vaccines.