Opioid Crisis Fast Facts | CNN



CNN
 — 

Here’s a look at the opioid crisis.

Experts say the United States is in the throes of an opioid epidemic. An estimated 9.2 million Americans aged 12 and older misused opioids in 2021, including 8.7 million prescription pain reliever abusers and 1.1 million heroin users.

Opioids are drugs formulated to replicate the pain-reducing properties of opium. Prescription painkillers like morphine, oxycodone and hydrocodone are opioids. Illegal drugs like heroin and illicitly made fentanyl are also opioids. The word “opioid” is derived from the word “opium.”

Nearly 110,000 people died of drug overdoses in 2022, and more than two-thirds of those deaths involved a synthetic opioid.

Overdose deaths have been on the rise for years in the United States, but surged amid the Covid-19 pandemic: Annual deaths were nearly 50% higher in 2021 than in 2019, CDC data shows.

Prescription opioid volumes peaked in 2011, with the equivalent of 240 billion milligrams of morphine prescribed, according to the market research firm, IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science.

Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee had the highest opioid dispensing rates in 2020.

Opioids such as morphine and codeine are naturally derived from opium poppy plants more commonly grown in Asia, Central America and South America. Heroin is an illegal drug synthesized from morphine.

Hydrocodone and oxycodone are semi-synthetic opioids, manufactured in labs with natural and synthetic ingredients.

Fentanyl is a fully synthetic opioid, originally developed as a powerful anesthetic for surgery. It is also administered to alleviate severe pain associated with terminal illnesses like cancer. The drug is up to 100 times more powerful than morphine. Just a small dose can be deadly. Illicitly produced fentanyl has been a driving factor in the number of overdose deaths in recent years.

Methadone is another fully synthetic opioid. It is commonly dispensed to recovering heroin addicts to relieve the symptoms of withdrawal.

Opioids bind to receptors in the brain and spinal cord, disrupting pain signals. They also activate the reward areas of the brain by releasing the hormone dopamine, creating a feeling of euphoria or a “high.”

Opioid use disorder is the clinical term for opioid addiction or abuse.

People who become dependent on opioids may experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop using the medication. Dependence is often coupled with tolerance, meaning that users need to take increasingly larger doses for the same effect.

A drug called naloxone, available as an injection or a nasal spray, is used as a treatment for overdoses. It blocks or reverses the effects of opioids and is often carried by first responders.

More data on overdose deaths

The 21st Century Cures Act, passed in 2016, allocated $1 billion over two years in opioid crisis grants to states, providing funding for expanded treatment and prevention programs. In April 2017, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price announced the distribution of the first round of $485 million in grants to all 50 states and US territories.

In August 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the launch of an Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit within the Department of Justice. The unit’s mission is to prosecute individuals who commit opioid-related health care fraud. The DOJ is also appointing US attorneys who will specialize in opioid health care fraud cases as part of a three-year pilot program in 12 jurisdictions nationwide.

On October 24, 2018, President Donald Trump signed opioid legislation into law. The SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act includes provisions aimed at promoting research to find new drugs for pain management that will not be addictive. It also expands access to treatment for substance use disorders for Medicaid patients.

State legislatures have also introduced measures to regulate pain clinics and limit the quantity of opioids that doctors can dispense.

1861-1865 – During the Civil War, medics use morphine as a battlefield anesthetic. Many soldiers become dependent on the drug.

1898 – Heroin is first produced commercially by the Bayer Company. At the time, heroin is believed to be less habit-forming than morphine, so it is dispensed to individuals who are addicted to morphine.

1914 – Congress passes the Harrison Narcotics Act, which requires that doctors write prescriptions for narcotic drugs like opioids and cocaine. Importers, manufacturers and distributors of narcotics must register with the Treasury Department and pay taxes on products

1924 – The Anti-Heroin Act bans the production and sale of heroin in the United States.

1970 – The Controlled Substances Act becomes law. It creates groupings (or schedules) of drugs based on the potential for abuse. Heroin is a Schedule I drug while morphine, fentanyl, oxycodone (Percocet) and methadone are Schedule II. Hydrocodone (Vicodin) is originally a Schedule III medication. It is later recategorized as a Schedule II drug.

January 10, 1980 – A letter titled “Addiction Rare in Patients Treated with Narcotics” is published in the New England Journal of Medicine. It looks at incidences of painkiller addiction in a very specific population of hospitalized patients who were closely monitored. It becomes widely cited as proof that narcotics are a safe treatment for chronic pain.

1995 – OxyContin, a long-acting version of oxycodone that slowly releases the drug over 12 hours, is introduced and aggressively marketed as a safer pain pill by manufacturer, Purdue Pharma.

May 10, 2007 – Purdue Pharma pleads guilty for misleadingly advertising OxyContin as safer and less addictive than other opioids. The company and three executives are charged with “misleading and defrauding physicians and consumers.” Purdue and the executives agree to pay $634.5 million in criminal and civil fines.

2010 – FDA approves an “abuse-deterrent” formulation of OxyContin, to help curb abuse. However, people still find ways to abuse it.

May 20, 2015 – The DEA announces that it has arrested 280 people, including 22 doctors and pharmacists, after a 15-month sting operation centered on health care providers who dispense large amounts of opioids. The sting, dubbed Operation Pilluted, is the largest prescription drug bust in the history of the DEA.

March 18, 2016 – The CDC publishes guidelines for prescribing opioids for patients with chronic pain. Recommendations include prescribing over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen and ibuprofen in lieu of opioids. Doctors are encouraged to promote exercise and behavioral treatments to help patients cope with pain.

March 29, 2017 – Trump signs an executive order calling for the establishment of the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is selected as the chairman of the group, with Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as an adviser.

July 31, 2017 – After a delay, the White House panel examining the nation’s opioid epidemic releases its interim report, asking Trump to declare a national public health emergency to combat the ongoing crisis

September 22, 2017 – The pharmacy chain CVS announces that it will implement new restrictions on filling prescriptions for opioids, dispensing a limited seven-day supply to patients who are new to pain therapy.

November 1, 2017 – The opioid commission releases its final report. Its 56 recommendations include a proposal to establish nationwide drug courts that would place opioid addicts in treatment facilities rather than prison.

February 9, 2018 – A budget agreement signed by Trump authorizes $6 billion for opioid programs, with $3 billion allocated for 2018 and $3 billion allocated for 2019.

February 27, 2018 – Sessions announces a new opioid initiative: The Prescription Interdiction & Litigation (PIL) Task Force. The mission of the task force is to support local jurisdictions that have filed lawsuits against prescription drugmakers and distributors.

March 19, 2018 – The Trump administration outlines an initiative to stop opioid abuse. The three areas of concentration are law enforcement and interdiction; prevention and education via an ad campaign; and job-seeking assistance for individuals fighting addiction.

April 9, 2018 – The US surgeon general issues an advisory recommending that Americans carry the opioid overdose-reversing drug, naloxone. A surgeon general advisory is a rarely used tool to convey an urgent message. The last advisory issued by the surgeon general, more than a decade ago, focused on drinking during pregnancy.

May 1, 2018 – The Journal of the American Medical Association publishes a study that finds synthetic opioids like fentanyl caused about 46% of opioid deaths in 2016. That’s a three-fold increase compared with 2010, when synthetic opioids were involved in about 14% of opioid overdose deaths. It’s the first time that synthetic opioids surpassed prescription opioids and heroin as the primary cause of overdose fatalities.

May 30, 2018 – The journal Medical Care publishes a study that estimates the cost of medical care and substance abuse treatment for opioid addiction was $78.5 billion in 2013.

June 7, 2018 – The White House announces a new multimillion dollar public awareness advertising campaign to combat opioid addiction. The first four ads of the campaign are all based on true stories illustrating the extreme lengths young adults have gone to obtain the powerful drugs.

December 12, 2018 – According to the National Center for Health Statistics, fentanyl is now the most commonly used drug involved in drug overdoses. The rate of drug overdoses involving the synthetic opioid skyrocketed by about 113% each year from 2013 through 2016.

January 14, 2019 – The National Safety Council finds that, for the first time on record, the odds of dying from an opioid overdose in the United States are now greater than those of dying in a vehicle crash.

March 26, 2019 – Purdue Pharma agrees to pay a $270 million settlement to settle a historic lawsuit brought by the Oklahoma attorney general. The settlement will be used to fund addiction research and help cities and counties with the opioid crisis.

July 17, 2019 – The CDC releases preliminary data showing a 5.1% decline in drug overdoses during 2018. If the preliminary number is accurate, it would mark the first annual drop in overdose deaths in more than two decades.

August 26, 2019 – Oklahoma wins its case against Johnson & Johnson in the first major opioid lawsuit trial to be held in the United States. Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman orders Johnson & Johnson to pay $572 million for its role in the state’s opioid crisis. The penalty is later reduced to $465 million, due to a mathematical error made when calculating the judgment. In November 2021, the Oklahoma Supreme Court reverses the decision.

September 15, 2019 – Purdue files for bankruptcy as part of a $10 billion agreement to settle opioid lawsuits. According to a statement from the chair of Purdue’s board of directors, the money will be allocated to communities nationwide struggling to address the crisis.

September 30, 2019 – The FDA and DEA announce that they sent warnings to four online networks, operating a total of 10 websites, which the agencies said are illegally marketing unapproved and misbranded versions of opioid medicines, including tramadol.

February 25, 2020 – Mallinckrodt, a large opioid manufacturer, reaches a settlement agreement in principle worth $1.6 billion. Mallinckrodt says the proposed deal will resolve all opioid-related claims against the company and its subsidiaries if it moves forward. Plaintiffs would receive payments over an eight-year period to cover the costs of opioid-addition treatments and other needs.

October 21, 2020 – The Justice Department announces that Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, has agreed to plead guilty to three federal criminal charges for its role in creating the nation’s opioid crisis. They agree to pay more than $8 billion and close down the company. The money will go to opioid treatment and abatement programs. The Justice Department also reached a separate $225 million civil settlement with the former owners of Purdue Pharma, the Sackler family. In November 2020, Purdue Pharma board chairman Steve Miller formally pleads guilty on behalf of the company.

March 15, 2021 – According to court documents, Purdue files a restructuring plan to dissolve itself and establish a new company dedicated to programs designed to combat the opioid crisis. As part of the proposed plan, the Sackler family agrees to pay an additional $4.2 billion over the next nine years to resolve various civil claims.

September 1, 2021 – In federal bankruptcy court, Judge Robert Drain rules that Purdue Pharma will be dissolved. The settlement agreement resolves all civil litigation against the Sackler family members, Purdue Pharma and other related parties and entities, and awards them broad legal protection against future civil litigation. The Sacklers will relinquish control of family foundations with over $175 million in assets to the trustees of a National Opioid Abatement Trust. On December 16, 2021, a federal judge overturns the settlement.

February 25, 2022 – Johnson & Johnson and the three largest US drug distributors – McKesson Corp, Cardinal Health Inc and AmerisourceBergen Corp – finalize a $26 billion nationwide opioid settlement.

March 3, 2022 – The Sackler families reaches a settlement with a group of states the first week of March, according to court filings. The settlement, ordered through court-ordered mediation that began in January, requires the Sacklers to pay out as much as $6 billion to states, individual claimants and opioid crisis abatement, if approved by a federal bankruptcy court judge.

November 2, 2022 – CVS and Walgreens agree to pay a combined $10 billion, over 10 and 15 years, to settle lawsuits brought by states and local governments alleging the retailers mishandled prescriptions of opioid painkillers.

November 15, 2022 – Walmart agrees to the framework of a $3.1 billion settlement, which resolves allegations from multiple states’ attorneys general that the company failed to regulate opioid prescriptions contributing to the nationwide opioid crisis.

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‘We never want to have this happen again,’ FDA official testifies about formula shortage | CNN



CNN
 — 

In a rare moment of bipartisan agreement, lawmakers were highly critical of the US Food and Drug Administration’s handling of the infant formula shortage Thursday.

The hearing of the US House Oversight and Accountability Subcommittee on Health Care and Financial Services was one of several Congress has held to better understand what contributed to the recent formula shortage and to understand how to prevent more problems down the road.

Rep. Lisa McClain, R-Michigan, said that the FDA has not been fully forthcoming with Congress and the public.

“Why was the FDA unprepared for the crisis?” she asked in her opening statement.

She said that the agency failed to prioritize food safety. “The FDA has not taken the action needed to prevent a similar crisis from happening again.”

Rep. Katie Porter, D-California, said she agreed with McClain that another shortage could happen, “and that is a deadly serious problem.”

“There is a lot of blame to go around,” Porter added. “It’s clear with today’s witness selection that Republicans want to blame the FDA, and I’ll level with you, I think some of that blame is well-placed. We’ve had two subsequent infant formula recalls in 2023 already, and we’re still seeing that the FDA can make further improvements on internal processes, intervene in issues sooner and follow through with more inspections to prevent further contamination.”

Three major manufacturers in the US control over 90% of the formula market, and that consolidation is a “serious concern” that “contributed significantly to shortages,” according to Dr. Susan Mayne, director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, who testified Thursday.

A shortage that started in 2021 was exacerbated when the country’s largest infant formula maker, Abbott Nutrition, recalled multiple products in mid-February 2022 and had to pause production at its plant in Sturgis, Michigan, after FDA inspectors found potentially dangerous bacteria.

The plant inspection was tied to an outbreak of Cronobacter sakazakii that had sickened at least four infants and killed two, although investigations did not find a genetic link between bacteria samples from the facility and bacteria found in the water and powder used to mix the formula that the infants had consumed.

Mayne testified that it was difficult to trace the cases and determine how big of a concern the outbreak was. The bacteria is a common pathogen in the environment “but one about which we have limited information.”

The FDA has urged the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to make Cronobacter infection a notifiable disease – meaning providers would be required to report cases to local or state public health officials – so public health experts would be able to more quickly determine the source of any contamination.

In addition to the bacteria, an FDA inspection of the Sturgis plant found unsanitary conditions and several violations of food safety rules.

A whistleblower had alerted the FDA to alleged safety lapses at the plant in February 2021, months before Abbott’s formula was recalled. The complaint suggested that the plant lacked proper cleaning practices and that workers falsified records and hid information from inspectors.

Like other FDA leaders who have been called before Congress, Mayne testified that she was not made aware of the complaint right away. She called it “a failure of escalation.”

“I do wish I had been made aware of this particular whistleblower complaint, but just to reiterate, the complaint was acted upon,” Mayne said. However, she noted, it was “less than ideal” how quickly there was an FDA inspection of the plant and how quickly the agency was able to act.

When the whistleblower made the complaint, there was no process within the FDA to escalate it. The process has since changed so that if a complaint meets certain criteria involving vulnerable populations, hospitalizations or deaths, leadership would be immediately informed. If a consumer complaint involves an infant death or hospitalization, it also immediately gets escalated to leadership.

To prevent future shortages, Mayne testified, it won’t just be the FDA that needs to change. The industry should do more to adopt enhanced food safety measures to “deliver the safest possible” infant formula, she said.

The agency would also like better regulations. There have been been two infant formula recalls already in 2023, and in neither case was the manufacturer required to notify the FDA that it had found contamination before the formula left the plant.

The FDA has asked formula makers to inform the agency about positive tests, but such reporting is only voluntary. If it were mandatory, the FDA could know about problems in real time and could take action.

“Our food safety experts, our compliance experts can work with the manufacturers,” Mayne said. In such a collaboration, they could quickly identify what product to focus on to prevent a shortage.

The FDA has taken recent steps to improve. In February, it announced that it is restructuring its food division to be more responsive and that it is creating an office of critical foods. The FDA is also hiring specialized infant formula inspection staff, Mayne said.

The infant formula supply is generally in good shape, she said, but there are still some distribution issues.

The in-stock rate is near 90%, even higher than pre-recall levels. But some rural areas are having a hard time getting all the formula they need.

Formula manufacturers have been producing more than is being purchased week after week to build up supply, Mayne said. The Biden administration has also worked to bring in formula from manufacturers overseas.

But another shortage is not out of the question, particularly if one of the country’s main manufacturers is taken offline for any significant amount of time.

“We never want to have this happen again,” Mayne said.

Lawmakers have proposed significant cuts, about 22%, to the FDA’s budget for 2023. Mayne said that consumers and the industry would be “adversely affected” if the cuts go through.

“Broadly, across the FDA, I can say it would be devastating,” she said, resulting in a loss of 32% of domestic inspections and 22% of foreign inspections. The cuts would also disproportionately affect its food programs, which get much of their funding from the budget, unlike divisions involving drugs that get money from user fees.

“We would be unable to do what I think American consumers expect us to do,” Mayne said.

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Covid-19 Pandemic Timeline Fast Facts | CNN



CNN
 — 

Here’s a look at the coronavirus outbreak, declared a worldwide pandemic by the World Health Organization. The coronavirus, called Covid-19 by WHO, originated in China and is the cousin of the SARS virus.

Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that are common among animals. The viruses can make people sick, usually with a mild to moderate upper respiratory tract illness, similar to a common cold. Coronavirus symptoms include a runny nose, cough, sore throat, possibly a headache and maybe a fever, which can last for a couple of days.

WHO Situation Reports

Coronavirus Map

CNN’s early reporting on the coronavirus

December 31, 2019 – Cases of pneumonia detected in Wuhan, China, are first reported to WHO. During this reported period, the virus is unknown. The cases occur between December 12 and December 29, according to Wuhan Municipal Health.

January 1, 2020 – Chinese health authorities close the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market after it is discovered that wild animals sold there may be the source of the virus.

January 5, 2020 – China announces that the unknown pneumonia cases in Wuhan are not SARS or MERS. In a statement, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission says a retrospective probe into the outbreak has been initiated.

January 7, 2020 – Chinese authorities confirm that they have identified the virus as a novel coronavirus, initially named 2019-nCoV by WHO.

January 11, 2020 – The Wuhan Municipal Health Commission announces the first death caused by the coronavirus. A 61-year-old man, exposed to the virus at the seafood market, died on January 9 after respiratory failure caused by severe pneumonia.

January 17, 2020 – Chinese health officials confirm that a second person has died in China. The United States responds to the outbreak by implementing screenings for symptoms at airports in San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles.

January 20, 2020 – China reports 139 new cases of the sickness, including a third death. On the same day, WHO’s first situation report confirms cases in Japan, South Korea and Thailand.

January 20, 2020 – The National Institutes of Health announces that it is working on a vaccine against the coronavirus. “The NIH is in the process of taking the first steps towards the development of a vaccine,” says Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

January 21, 2020 – Officials in Washington state confirm the first case on US soil.

January 23, 2020 – At an emergency committee, WHO says that the coronavirus does not yet constitute a public health emergency of international concern.

January 23, 2020 – The Beijing Culture and Tourism Bureau cancels all large-scale Lunar New Year celebrations in an effort to contain the growing spread of coronavirus. On the same day, Chinese authorities enforce a partial lockdown of transport in and out of Wuhan. Authorities in the nearby cities of Huanggang and Ezhou Huanggang announce a series of similar measures.

January 28, 2020 – Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom in Beijing. At the meeting, Xi and WHO agree to send a team of international experts, including US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention staff, to China to investigate the coronavirus outbreak.

January 29, 2020 – The White House announces the formation of a new task force that will help monitor and contain the spread of the virus, and ensure Americans have accurate and up-to-date health and travel information, it says.

January 30, 2020 – The United States reports its first confirmed case of person-to-person transmission of the coronavirus. On the same day, WHO determines that the outbreak constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).

January 31, 2020 – The Donald Trump administration announces it will deny entry to foreign nationals who have traveled in China in the last 14 days.

February 2, 2020 – A man in the Philippines dies from the coronavirus – the first time a death has been reported outside mainland China since the outbreak began.

February 3, 2020 – China’s Foreign Ministry accuses the US government of inappropriately reacting to the outbreak and spreading fear by enforcing travel restrictions.

February 4, 2020 – The Japanese Health Ministry announces that ten people aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship moored in Yokohama Bay are confirmed to have the coronavirus. The ship, which is carrying more than 3,700 people, is placed under quarantine scheduled to end on February 19.

February 6, 2020 – First Covid-19 death in the United States: A person in California’s Santa Clara County dies of coronavirus, but the link is not confirmed until April 21.

February 7, 2020 – Li Wenliang, a Wuhan doctor who was targeted by police for trying to sound the alarm on a “SARS-like” virus in December, dies of the coronavirus. Following news of Li’s death, the topics “Wuhan government owes Dr. Li Wenliang an apology,” and “We want freedom of speech,” trend on China’s Twitter-like platform, Weibo, before disappearing from the heavily censored platform.

February 8, 2020 – The US Embassy in Beijing confirms that a 60-year-old US national died in Wuhan on February 6, marking the first confirmed death of a foreigner.

February 10, 2020 – Xi inspects efforts to contain the coronavirus in Beijing, the first time he has appeared on the front lines of the fight against the outbreak. On the same day, a team of international experts from WHO arrive in China to assist with containing the coronavirus outbreak.

February 10, 2020 – The Anthem of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, sets sail from Bayonne, New Jersey, after a coronavirus scare had kept it docked and its passengers waiting for days.

February 11, 2020 – WHO names the coronavirus Covid-19.

February 13, 2020 – China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency announces that Shanghai mayor Ying Yong will be replacing Jiang Chaoliang amid the outbreak. Wuhan Communist Party chief Ma Guoqiang has also been replaced by Wang Zhonglin, party chief of Jinan city in Shandong province, according to Xinhua.

February 14, 2020 – A Chinese tourist who tested positive for the virus dies in France, becoming the first person to die in the outbreak in Europe. On the same day, Egypt announces its first case of coronavirus, marking the first case in Africa.

February 15, 2020 – The official Communist Party journal Qiushi publishes the transcript of a speech made on February 3 by Xi in which he “issued requirements for the prevention and control of the new coronavirus” on January 7, revealing Xi knew about and was directing the response to the virus on almost two weeks before he commented on it publicly.

February 17, 2020 – A second person in California’s Santa Clara County dies of coronavirus, but the link is not confirmed until April 21.

February 18, 2020 – Xi says in a phone call with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson that China’s measures to prevent and control the epidemic “are achieving visible progress,” according to state news Xinhua.

February 21, 2020 – The CDC changes criteria for counting confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in the United States and begins tracking two separate and distinct groups: those repatriated by the US Department of State and those identified by the US public health network.

February 25, 2020 – The NIH announces that a clinical trial to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of the antiviral drug remdesivir in adults diagnosed with coronavirus has started at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. The first participant is an American who was evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Japan.

February 25, 2020 – In an effort to contain the largest outbreak in Europe, Italy’s Lombardy region press office issues a list of towns and villages that are in complete lockdown. Around 100,000 people are affected by the travel restrictions.

February 26, 2020 – CDC officials say that a California patient being treated for novel coronavirus is the first US case of unknown origin. The patient, who didn’t have any relevant travel history nor exposure to another known patient, is the first possible US case of “community spread.”

February 26, 2020 – Trump places Vice President Mike Pence in charge of the US government response to the novel coronavirus, amid growing criticism of the White House’s handling of the outbreak.

February 29, 2020 – A patient dies of coronavirus in Washington state. For almost two months, this is considered the first death due to the virus in the United States, until autopsy results announced April 21 reveal two earlier deaths in California.

March 3, 2020 – The Federal Reserve slashes interest rates by half a percentage point in an attempt to give the US economy a jolt in the face of concerns about the coronavirus outbreak. It is the first unscheduled, emergency rate cut since 2008, and it also marks the biggest one-time cut since then.

March 3, 2020 – Officials announce that Iran will temporarily release 54,000 people from prisons and deploy hundreds of thousands of health workers as officials announced a slew of measures to contain the world’s deadliest coronavirus outbreak outside China. It is also announced that 23 members of Iran’s parliament tested positive for the virus.

March 4, 2020 – The CDC formally removes earlier restrictions that limited coronavirus testing of the general public to people in the hospital, unless they had close contact with confirmed coronavirus cases. According to the CDC, clinicians should now “use their judgment to determine if a patient has signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19 and whether the patient should be tested.”

March 8, 2020 – Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte signs a decree placing travel restrictions on the entire Lombardy region and 14 other provinces, restricting the movements of more than 10 million people in the northern part of the country.

March 9, 2020 – Conte announces that the whole country of Italy is on lockdown.

March 11, 2020 – WHO declares the novel coronavirus outbreak to be a pandemic. WHO says the outbreak is the first pandemic caused by a coronavirus. In an Oval Office address, Trump announces that he is restricting travel from Europe to the United States for 30 days in an attempt to slow the spread of coronavirus. The ban, which applies to the 26 countries in the Schengen Area, applies only to foreign nationals and not American citizens and permanent residents who’d be screened before entering the country.

March 13, 2020 – Trump declares a national emergency to free up $50 billion in federal resources to combat coronavirus.

March 18, 2020 – Trump signs into law a coronavirus relief package that includes provisions for free testing for Covid-19 and paid emergency leave.

March 19, 2020 – At a news conference, officials from China’s National Health Commission report no new locally transmitted coronavirus cases for the first time since the pandemic began.

March 23, 2020 – United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres calls for an immediate global ceasefire amid the pandemic to fight “the common enemy.”

March 24, 2020 – Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach agree to postpone the Olympics until 2021 amid the outbreak.

March 25, 2020 – The White House and Senate leaders reach an agreement on a $2 trillion stimulus deal to offset the economic damage of coronavirus, producing one of the most expensive and far-reaching measures in the history of Congress.

March 27, 2020 – Trump signs the stimulus package into law.

April 2, 2020 – According to the Department of Labor, 6.6 million US workers file for their first week of unemployment benefits in the week ending March 28, the highest number of initial claims in history. Globally, the total number of coronavirus cases surpasses 1 million, according to Johns Hopkins University’s tally.

April 3, 2020 – Trump says his administration is now recommending Americans wear “non-medical cloth” face coverings, a reversal of previous guidance that suggested masks were unnecessary for people who weren’t sick.

April 8, 2020 – China reopens Wuhan after a 76-day lockdown.

April 14, 2020 – Trump announces he is halting funding to WHO while a review is conducted, saying the review will cover WHO’s “role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of coronavirus.”

April 20, 2020 – Chilean health officials announce that Chile will begin issuing the world’s first digital immunity cards to people who have recovered from coronavirus, saying the cards will help identify individuals who no longer pose a health risk to others.

April 21, 2020 – California’s Santa Clara County announces autopsy results that show two Californians died of novel coronavirus in early and mid-February – up to three weeks before the previously known first US death from the virus.

April 28, 2020 – The United States passes one million confirmed cases of the virus, according to Johns Hopkins.

May 1, 2020 – The US Food and Drug Administration issues an emergency-use authorization for remdesivir in hospitalized patients with severe Covid-19. FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn says remdesivir is the first authorized therapy drug for Covid-19.

May 4, 2020 – During a virtual pledging conference co-hosted by the European Union, world leaders pledge a total of $8 billion for the development and deployment of diagnostics, treatments and vaccines against the novel coronavirus.

May 11, 2020 – Trump and his administration announce that the federal government is sending $11 billion to states to expand coronavirus testing capabilities. The relief package signed on April 24 includes $25 billion for testing, with $11 billion for states, localities, territories and tribes.

May 13, 2020 – Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO’s health emergencies program, warns that the coronavirus may never go away and may just join the mix of viruses that kill people around the world every year.

May 19, 2020 – WHO agrees to hold an inquiry into the global response to the coronavirus pandemic. WHO member states adopt the proposal with no objections during the World Health Assembly meeting, after the European Union and Australia led calls for an investigation.

May 23, 2020 – China reports no new symptomatic coronavirus cases, the first time since the beginning of the outbreak in December.

May 27, 2020 – Data collected by Johns Hopkins University reports that the coronavirus has killed more than 100,000 people across the US, meaning that an average of almost 900 Americans died each day since the first known coronavirus-related death was reported nearly four months earlier.

June 2, 2020 – Wuhan’s Health Commission announces that it has completed coronavirus tests on 9.9 million of its residents with no new confirmed cases found.

June 8, 2020 – New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announces that almost all coronavirus restrictions in New Zealand will be lifted after the country reported no active cases.

June 11, 2020 – The United States passes 2 million confirmed cases of the virus, according to Johns Hopkins.

June 16, 2020 – University of Oxford scientists leading the Recovery Trial, a large UK-based trial investigating potential Covid-19 treatments, announce that a low-dose regimen of dexamethasone for 10 days was found to reduce the risk of death by a third among hospitalized patients requiring ventilation in the trial.

June 20, 2020 – The NIH announces that it has halted a clinical trial evaluating the safety and effectiveness of drug hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for the coronavirus. “A data and safety monitoring board met late Friday and determined that while there was no harm, the study drug was very unlikely to be beneficial to hospitalized patients with Covid-19,” the NIH says in a statement.

June 26, 2020 – During a virtual media briefing, WHO announces that it plans to deliver about 2 billion doses of a coronavirus vaccine to people across the globe. One billion of those doses will be purchased for low- and middle-income countries, according to WHO.

July 1, 2020 – The European Union announces it will allow travelers from 14 countries outside the bloc to visit EU countries, months after it shut its external borders in response to the pandemic. The list does not include the US, which doesn’t meet the criteria set by the EU for it to be considered a “safe country.”

July 6, 2020 – In an open letter published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, 239 scientists from around the world urge WHO and other health agencies to be more forthright in explaining the potential airborne transmission of coronavirus. In the letter, scientists write that studies “have demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt that viruses are released during exhalation, talking, and coughing in microdroplets small enough to remain aloft in air and pose a risk of exposure at distances beyond 1 to 2 meters (yards) from an infected individual.”

July 7, 2020 – The Trump administration notifies Congress and the United Nations that the United States is formally withdrawing from WHO. The withdrawal goes into effect on July 6, 2021.

July 21, 2020 – European leaders agree to create a €750 billion ($858 billion) recovery fund to rebuild EU economies ravaged by the coronavirus.

July 27, 2020 – A vaccine being developed by the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in partnership with the biotechnology company Moderna, enters Phase 3 testing. The trial is expected to enroll about 30,000 adult volunteers and evaluates the safety of the vaccine and whether it can prevent symptomatic Covid-19 after two doses, among other outcomes.

August 11, 2020 – In a live teleconference, Russian President Vladimir Putin announces that Russia has approved a coronavirus vaccine for public use before completion of Phase 3 trials, which usually precedes approval. The vaccine, which is named Sputnik-V, is developed by the Moscow-based Gamaleya Institute with funding from the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF).

August 15, 2020 – Russia begins production on Sputnik-V, according to Russian state news agency TASS.

August 23, 2020 – The FDA issues an emergency use authorization for the use of convalescent plasma to treat Covid-19. It is made using the blood of people who have recovered from coronavirus infections.

August 27, 2020 – The CDC notifies public health officials around the United States to prepare to distribute a potential coronavirus vaccine as soon as late October. In the documents, posted by The New York Times, the CDC provides planning scenarios to help states prepare and advises on who should get vaccinated first – healthcare professionals, essential workers, national security “populations” and long-term care facility residents and staff.

September 4, 2020 – The first peer-reviewed results of Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trials of Russia’s Covid-19 vaccine are published in the medical journal The Lancet. The results “have a good safety profile” and the vaccine induced antibody responses in all participants, The Lancet says.

October 2, 2020 – Trump announces that he and first lady Melania Trump have tested positive for Covid-19. He spends three nights at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center receiving treatment before returning to the White House.

October 12, 2020 – Drugmaker Johnson & Johnson announces it has paused the advanced clinical trial of its experimental coronavirus vaccine because of an unexplained illness in one of the volunteers.”Following our guidelines, the participant’s illness is being reviewed and evaluated by the ENSEMBLE independent Data Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) as well as our internal clinical and safety physicians,” the company said in a statement. ENSEMBLE is the name of the study. The trial resumes later in the month.

December 10, 2020 – Vaccine advisers to the FDA vote to recommend the agency grant emergency use authorization to Pfizer and BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine.

December 14, 2020 – US officials announce the first doses of the FDA authorized Pfizer vaccine have been delivered to all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

December 18, 2020 – The FDA authorizes a second coronavirus vaccine made by Moderna for emergency use. “The emergency use authorization allows the vaccine to be distributed in the U.S. for use in individuals 18 years and older,” the FDA said in a tweet.

January 14, 2021 – The WHO team tasked with investigating the origins of the outbreak in Wuhan arrive in China.

January 20, 2021 – Newly elected US President Joe Biden halts the United States’ withdrawal from WHO.

February 22, 2021 – The death toll from Covid-19 exceeds 500,000 in the United States.

February 27, 2021 – The FDA grants emergency use authorization to Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine, the first single dose Covid-19 vaccine available in the US.

March 30, 2021 – According to a 120-page report from WHO, the novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19 probably spread to people through an animal, and probably started spreading among humans no more than a month or two before it was noticed in December of 2019. The report says a scenario where it spread via an intermediate animal host, possibly a wild animal captured and then raised on a farm, is “very likely.”

April 17, 2021 – The global tally of deaths from Covid-19 surpasses 3 million, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins.

August 3, 2021 – According to figures published by the CDC, the more contagious Delta variant accounts for an estimated 93.4% of coronavirus circulating in the United States during the last two weeks of July. The figures show a rapid increase over the past two months, up from around 3% in the two weeks ending May 22.

August 12, 2021 – The FDA authorizes an additional Covid-19 vaccine dose for certain immunocompromised people.

August 23, 2021 – The FDA grants full approval to the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for people age 16 and older, making it the first coronavirus vaccine approved by the FDA.

September 24, 2021 CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky diverges from the agency’s independent vaccine advisers to recommend boosters for a broader group of people – those ages 18 to 64 who are at increased risk of Covid-19 because of their workplaces or institutional settings – in addition to older adults, long-term care facility residents and some people with underlying health conditions.

November 2, 2021 – Walensky says she is endorsing a recommendation to vaccinate children ages 5-11 against Covid-19, clearing the way for immediate vaccination of the youngest age group yet in the US.

November 19, 2021 – The FDA authorizes boosters of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines for all adults. The same day, the CDC also endorses boosters for all adults.

December 16, 2021 – The CDC changes its recommendations for Covid-19 vaccines to make clear that shots made by Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech are preferred over Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine.

December 22, 2021 – The FDA authorizes Pfizer’s antiviral pill, Paxlovid, to treat Covid-19, the first antiviral Covid-19 pill authorized in the United States for ill people to take at home, before they get sick enough to be hospitalized. The following day, the FDA authorizes Merck’s antiviral pill, molnupiravir.

December 27, 2021 The CDC shortens the recommended times that people should isolate when they’ve tested positive for Covid-19 from 10 days to five days if they don’t have symptoms – and if they wear a mask around others for at least five more days. The CDC also shortens the recommended time for people to quarantine if they are exposed to the virus to a similar five days if they are vaccinated.

January 31, 2022 – The FDA grants full approval to Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine for those ages 18 and older. This is the second coronavirus vaccine given full approval by the FDA.

March 29, 2022 – The FDA authorizes a second booster of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines for adults 50 and older. That same day, the CDC also endorses a second booster for the same age group.

April 25, 2022 – The FDA expands approval of the drug remdesivir to treat patients as young as 28 days and weighing about seven pounds.

May 17, 2022 – The FDA authorizes a booster dose of Pfizer/BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 at least five months after completion of the primary vaccine series. On May 19, the CDC also endorses a booster dose for the same age group.

June 18, 2022 – The CDC recommends Covid-19 vaccines for children as young as 6 months.

August 31, 2022 – The FDA authorizes updated Covid-19 vaccine booster shots from Moderna and Pfizer. Both are bivalent vaccines that combine the companies’ original vaccine with one that targets the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron sublineages. The CDC signs off on the updated booster shots the following day.

May 5, 2023 – The WHO says Covid-19 is no longer a global health emergency.



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Dad and daughter duo post ‘dad advice’ for young adults on TikTok | CNN

Sign up for CNN’s Adulthood, But Better newsletter series. Our seven-part guide has tips to help you make more informed decisions around personal finance, career, wellness and personal connections.



CNN
 — 

In his offline life, Bo Petterson is a dad to his six adult children. But online, he is a father figure to millions.

With the TikTok account @DadAdviceFromBo, one man from Leavenworth, Washington, has shared tips and tricks on navigating adulthood with 2.6 million followers around the world.

Petterson has advice on so many things, including how to change a tire, mow a lawn, patch a hole in drywall, avoid debt and build up credit, and he even offers his perspectives on mental health.

Petterson produces several videos a week, each a maintenance hack or bit of mental health advice that he has gathered from life experiences. But he doesn’t do it alone — his adult daughter, Emily Petterson, is the one behind the camera.

“I think young people feel like we have to do everything ourselves or know everything already. We tend to get overwhelmed by things we haven’t learned,” Emily Petterson said via email. “My Dad does a great job of teaching things concisely but also showing people that whatever is weighing on you is probably an easier solution than you think. You just need someone to light the way.”

Many who follow the account affectionately call Bo Petterson “Dad” in their comments expressing gratitude for his weekly advice.

“Emily, thank you for sharing your dad with us. Bo, thank you for being our dad,” one user commented under a video introducing Emily.

“From someone who lost their dad when she was 5 and a beginning homeowner, I really appreciate your videos! Thank you TikTok Dad,” another posted on a video on spring-cleaning.

Signing off his videos with “Love, Dad,” Petterson’s goal is to help young people feel confident as they find their footing in the world.

“My perspective is that learning to take care of the spaces you occupy, whether it’s your home, car or even your own body, is directly tied to mental well-being,” Petterson said via email. “Too often I find that young people are overwhelmed by adulthood, and I think they just need someone to sit with them and encourage them to take it one thing at a time.”

One of his top-viewed TikToks is his “one simple rule” for backing up a trailer — keep one hand on the bottom of the steering wheel and turn in the direction you want the trailer to go.

To keep a lawn in top shape, Petterson suggested mowing in a different direction each time, so the grass doesn’t start to lean one way. One user commented, “My dad died in November, and I’ve been wanting so badly to ask him how to get the lines in my lawn.”

When you’re unsure if it is time to change your tires, Petterson has a nifty trick using a quarter to check the tire thread. “Put the quarter down, and if you can see the top of Washington’s head, you need new tread. Rotating your tires consistently will help the tread wear more evenly,” he said.

The

In the mental health space, Petterson consistently reminds his viewers not to get caught up in overthinking about tomorrow’s problems. His positive outlook on life began when he was in his 20s and had to spend the night in his truck after getting two flat tires in the middle of a lightning storm.

“If you think of everything as a lesson, life’s toughest moments are a little less difficult,” Petterson said. “Worry is interest paid on problems yet to happen. If there is nothing you can do about tomorrow’s problems, don’t spend a moment thinking about them or you live the problem twice.”

That attitude helped him a lot when Emily was 18. She had a traumatic brain injury from a soccer game that left her feeling physically and mentally unwell. Her therapist encouraged her to try to do regular things that would distract her from the pain.

“I started taking photos of the quilts my mom makes and posting them to Instagram. My Dad saw that I was up and out of bed, so he built me an entire quilt stand to hang them from to make photographing easier,” Emily Petterson said via email. “That’s when I thought, ‘I should also be sharing how special he is.’ I had no idea it would go anywhere or be helpful to anyone.”

She began recording her dad giving “Dad Advice” to the camera, and those videos were originally meant for her and her siblings. A few days later, she discovered that one of the videos had reached over a million views on TikTok.

Now, the duo continues to record videos inspired by household maintenance that Bo Petterson is already going to do or topics that their followers request. Petterson said he enjoys being able to give back by teaching what he knows how to do.

“I’m just a Dad, not an expert in everything,” Petterson said. “Emily is the reason I started making these videos and the reason I continue to make them. Although I realize now that many others are benefiting from these advice videos, it’s still just Emily and I filming the content and having a few laughs along the way. I will make videos as long as she asks me to.”

As well as his videos do, Petterson said he felt as if he should have taught his own six kids how to repair more things around the house when they were growing up. While parents may agree it is easier to handle repairs themselves, he said it is important to teach children to maintain a house or a car to set them up for success in life.

“One day, as they grow and fly the nest, you will realize they still need you just about as much as they did growing up, just in different ways,” he said. “Forgive yourself for the mistakes and try to be a phone call away as they become parents themselves.”

Both Petterson and his daughter continue to express gratitude for those that have shown support for Emily in her journey to recovery. “Every person who has experienced sickness or deep suffering knows what it feels like to lay in a hospital and wish for a miracle, and this has been my miracle. I am living my miracle because of his videos and the community that supports him,” Emily Petterson said.

“A friend said once, ‘If you’re an adult, you’ve already spent the most amount of time with your parents that you ever will,’ and I feel really lucky that I get to spend so much time with him now.”

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These women ran an underground abortion network in the 1960s. Here’s what they fear might happen today | CNN



CNN
 — 

The voice on the phone in 1966 was gruff and abrupt: “Do you want the Chevy, the Cadillac or the Rolls Royce?”

A Chevy abortion would cost about $200, cash in hand, the voice explained. A Cadillac was around $500, and the Rolls Royce was $1,000.

“You can’t afford more than the Chevy? Fine,” the voice growled. “Go to this address at this time. Don’t be late and don’t forget the cash.” The voice disappeared.

Dorie Barron told CNN she recalls staring blankly at the phone in her hand, startled by the sudden empty tone. Then it hit her: She had just arranged an illegal abortion with the Chicago Mafia.

The motel Barron was sent to was in an unfamiliar part of Chicago, a scary “middle of nowhere,” she said. She was told to go to a specific room, sit on the bed and wait. Suddenly three men and a woman came in the door.

“I was petrified. They spoke all of three sentences to me the entire time: ‘Where’s the money?’ ‘Lie back and do as I tell you.’ And finally ‘Get in the bathroom,’” when the abortion was over, Barron said. “Then all of a sudden they were gone.”

Bleeding profusely, Barron managed to find a cab to take her home. When the bleeding didn’t stop, her bed-ridden mother made her go to the hospital.

At 24, Barron was taking care of her ailing mother and her 2-year-old daughter when she discovered she was pregnant. Her boyfriend, who had no job and lived with his parents, “freaked,” said Barron, who appears in a recent HBO documentary. The boyfriend suggested she get an abortion. She had never considered that option.

“But what was I to do? My mom was taking care of my daughter from her bed while I worked — they would read and play games until I got home,” Barron said.”How was either of us going to cope with a baby?

“Looking back, I realize I was taking my life in my hands,” said Barron, now an 81-year-old grandmother. “To this day it gives me chills. If I had died, what in God’s green earth would have happened to my mom and daughter?”

Women in the 1960s endured restrictions relatively unknown to women today. The so-called “fairer sex” could not serve on juries and often could not get an Ivy League education. Women earned about half as much as a man doing the same job and were seldom promoted.

Women could not get a credit card unless they were married — and then only if their husband co-signed. The same applied to birth control — only the married need apply. More experienced women shared a workaround with the uninitiated: “Go to Woolworth, buy a cheap wedding-type ring and wear it to your doctor’s appointment. And don’t forget to smile.”

Marital rape wasn’t legally considered rape. And, of course, women had no legal right to terminate a pregnancy until four states — Alaska, Hawaii, New York and Washington — legalized abortion in 1970, three years before Roe v. Wade became the law of the land.

Illinois had no such protection, said Heather Booth, a lifelong feminist activist and political strategist: “Three people discussing having an abortion in Chicago in 1965 was a conspiracy to commit felony murder.”

Despite that danger, a courageous band of young women — most in their 20’s, some in college, some married with children — banded together in Chicago to create an underground abortion network. The group was officially created in 1969 as the “Abortion Counseling Service of Women’s Liberation.”

But after running ads in an underground newspaper: “Pregnant? Don’t want to be? Call Jane,” each member of the group answered the phone as “Jane.”

Despite their youth, members of Jane managed to run an illegal abortion service dedicated to each woman's needs.
From left: Martha Scott, Jeanne Galatzer-Levy, Abby Pariser, Sheila Smith and Madeline Schwenk.

“We were co-conspirators with the women who called us,” said 75-year-old Laura Kaplan, who published a book about the service in 1997 entitled “The Story of Jane: The Legendary Underground Feminist Abortion Service.”

“We’ll protect you; we hope you’ll protect us,” Kaplan said. “We’ll take care of you; we hope you’ll take care of us.”

What started as referrals to legitimate abortion providers changed to personalized service when some members of Jane learned to safely do the abortions themselves. Between the late 1960s and 1973, the year that the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade, Jane had arranged or performed over 11,000 abortions.

“Our culture is always searching for heroes,” said Kaplan. “But you don’t have to be a hero to do extraordinary things. Jane was just ordinary people working together — and look what we could accomplish, which is amazing, right?”

Even after several members were caught and arrested, the group continued to provide abortions for women too poor to travel to states where abortion had been legalized.

“I prayed a lot. I didn’t want to go to jail,” said 80-year-old Marie Learner, who allowed the Janes to perform abortions at her apartment.

“Some of us had little children. Some were the sole breadwinners in their home,” Learner said. “It was fearlessness in the face of overwhelming odds.”

Marie Learner opened her home to women undergoing abortions. Her neighbors knew, she said, but did not tell police.

The story of Jane has been immortalized in Kaplan’s book, numerous print articles, a 2022 movie, “Call Jane,” starring Elizabeth Banks and Sigourney Weaver, and a documentary on HBO (which, like CNN, is owned by Warner Bros. Discovery).

Today the historical tale of Jane has taken on a new significance. After the 2022 Supreme Court reversal of Roe v. Wade and the mid-term takeover of the US House of Representatives by Republicans, emboldened conservative lawmakers and judges have acted on their anti-abortion beliefs.

Currently more than a dozen states have banned or imposed severe restrictions on abortion. Georgia has banned abortions after six weeks, even though women are typically unaware they are pregnant at that stage. In mid-April, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill that would ban most abortions after six weeks. It won’t go into effect until the state Supreme Court overturns its previous precedent on abortion. Several other states are considering similar legislation. In other states, judicial battles are underway to protect abortion access.

“It’s a horrific situation right now. People will be harmed, some may even die,” said Booth, who helped birth the Jane movement while in college.

“Women without family support, without the information they need, may be isolated and either harm themselves looking to end an unwanted pregnancy or will be harmed because they went to an unscrupulous and illegal provider,” said Booth, now 77.

A key difference between the 60s and today is medication abortion, which 54% of people in the United States used to end a pregnancy in 2022. Available via prescription and through the mail, use of the drugs is two-fold: A person takes a first pill, mifepristone, to block the hormone needed for a pregnancy to continue.  A day or two later, the patient takes a second drug, misoprostol, which causes the uterus to contract, creating the cramping and bleeding of labor.

In early April a Texas judge, US District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk – a Trump appointee who has been vocal about his anti-abortion stance — suspended the US Food and Drug Administration’s approval of mifepristone despite 23 years of data showing the drug is safe to use, safer even than penicillin or Viagra.

On Friday, the Supreme Court froze the ruling and a subsequent decision by the Fifth US Circuit Court of Appeals at the request of the Justice Department and the drug manufacturer. The action allows access to mifepristone in states where it’s legal until appeals play out over the months to come.

However, 15 states currently restrict access to medication abortion, even by mail.

The actions of anti-abortion activists, who have been accused of “judge shopping” to get the decisions they want, is “an unprecedented attack on democracy meant to undermine the will of the vast majority of Americans who want this pill — mifepristone — to remain legal and available,” Heather Booth told CNN.

“This is a further weaponization of the courts to brazenly advance the end goal of banning abortion entirely,” she added.

If women in her day could have had access to medications that could be used safely in their homes, they would not have been forced to risk their lives, said Dorie Barron, thinking back to her own terrifying abortion in a sketchy Chicago motel.

“I’m depressed as hell, watching stupid, indifferent men control and destroy women’s lives all over again,” she said. “I really fear getting an abortion could soon be like 1965.”

Chicago college student Heather Booth had just finished a summer working with civil rights activists in Mississippi when she was asked to help with a different kind of injustice.

Heather Booth, 18, with civil rights heroine Fannie Lou Hamer during

A girl in another dorm was considering suicide because she was pregnant. Booth, who excelled at both organization and chutzpah, found a local doctor and negotiated an abortion for the girl. Word spread quickly.

“There were about 100 women a week calling for help, much more than one person could handle,” Booth said. “I recruited about 12 other people and began training them how to do the counseling.”

Counseling was a key part of the new service. This was a time when people “barely spoke about sex, how women’s bodies functioned or even how people got pregnant,” Booth said. To help each woman understand what was going to happen to them, Booth quizzed the abortion provider about every aspect of the procedure.

“What do you do in advance? Will it be painful? How painful? Can you walk afterwards? Do you need someone to be with you to take you home?” The questions continued: “What amount of bleeding is expected, and can a woman handle it on their own? If there’s a problem is there an urgent number they can call?”

Armed with details few if any physicians provided, the counselors at Jane could fully inform each caller about the abortion experience. The group even published a flyer describing the procedure, long before the groundbreaking 1970 book “Our Bodies, Ourselves” began to educate women about their sexuality and health.

“I don’t particularly like doctors because I always feel dissatisfied with the experience,” said Marie Learner, who spoke to many of the women who underwent an abortion at her home.

“But after their abortion at Jane, women told me, ‘Wow, that was the best experience I’ve ever had with people helping me with a medical issue.’”

Eileen Smith, now 73, was one of those women. “Jane made you feel like you were part of this bigger picture, like we were all in this together,” she said. “They helped me do this illegal thing and then they’re calling to make sure I’m OK? Wow!

“For me, it helped battle the feeling that I was a bad person, that ‘What’s wrong with me? Why did I get pregnant? I should know better’ voice in my head,” said Smith. “It was priceless.”

Like many young women in the 60s, Heather Booth often protested for civil and women's rights.

Many of the women who joined Jane had never experienced an abortion. Some viewed the work as political, a part of the burgeoning feminist movement. Others considered the service as simply humanitarian health care. All saw the work as an opportunity to respect each woman’s choice.

“I was a stay-at-home mom with four kids,” said Martha Scott, who is now in her 80s. “We knew the woman needed to feel as though she was in control of what was happening to her. We were making it happen for her, but it was not about us. It was about her.”

Some volunteers, like Dorie Barron, experienced the Jane difference firsthand when she found herself pregnant a few years after her abortion at the hands of the Mafia.

“It was a 100% total reversal — I had never experienced such kindness,” Barron said. Not only did a Jane hold each woman’s hand and explain every step of the process, “they gave each of us a giant supply of maternity sanitary pads, and a nice big handful of antibiotics,” she said. “And for the next week, I got a phone call every other day to see how I was.”

Barron soon began volunteering for Jane by providing pregnancy testing for women in the back of a church in Chicago’s Hyde Park.

“It wasn’t just abortion,” Barron explained. “We also said, ‘You could consider adoption,’ and gave adoption referrals. And if the woman wanted to continue with her pregnancy, we said, ‘Fine, please by all that is holy make sure you get prenatal care, take your vitamins, and eat as best you can.’ It was women helping women with whatever they needed.”

Most of the women who contacted Jane were unable to support themselves, in unhealthy relationships, or already had children at home, so the service was a way of “helping them get back on track,” said Smith, who, like Barron, had begun working for Jane after her abortion.

“We were telling them ‘This isn’t the end of the world. You can continue to leave your boyfriend or your husband or continue to just take care of those kids you have.’ We were there to help them get through this,” said Smith, who later became a homecare nurse.

From left: Eileen Smith, Diane Stevens and Benita Greenfield were three of the dozens of women who volunteered for Jane.

Diane Stevens says she came to work for Jane after experiencing an abortion in 1968 at the age of 19. She was living in California at the time, which provided “therapeutic abortions” if approved in advance by physicians.

“I’d had a birth control failure, and I was coached by Planned Parenthood on how to do this,” said Stevens, now 74. “I had to see two psychiatrists and one doctor and tell them I was not able to go through with the pregnancy because it would a danger to both my physical and mental health.

“I was admitted to the psychiatric ward, although I didn’t really know that — I thought I was just in a hospital bed. But oh no, ‘I was mentally ill,’ so that’s where they put me,” said Stevens, who later went to nursing school with Smith. “Then they wheeled me off for the abortion. I had general anesthesia, was there for two days, and then I was discharged. Isn’t that crazy?”

Sakinah Ahad Shannon, now 75, was one of the few Black women who volunteered as a counselor at Jane. She joined after accompanying a friend who was charged a mere $50 for her abortion. At that time, Jane’s fee was between $1 and $100, based on what the woman could afford to pay, Shannon said.

“When I walked in, I said, ‘Oh my God, here we go again. It’s a room of White women, archangels who are going to save the world,’” said Shannon, a social worker and member of the Congress of Racial Equality, an interracial group of non-violent activists who pioneered “Freedom Rides” and helped organize the March on Washington in 1963.

What she heard and saw at her friend’s counseling session was so impressive it “changed my life,” Shannon said. She and her family later opened and operated three Chicago abortion clinics for over 25 years, all using the Jane philosophy of communication and respect.

“It was a profoundly amazing experience for me,” she said. “I call the Janes my sisters. The color line didn’t matter. We were all taking the same risk.”

Sakinah Ahad Shannon and her daughters went on to open and run three abortion clinics in Chicago.

It wasn’t long before the women discovered a “doctor” performing abortions for Jane had been lying about his credentials. There was no medical degree — in the HBO documentary, he admitted he had honed his skills by assisting an abortion provider.

The group imploded. A number of members quit in horror and dismay. For the women who stayed, it was an epiphany, said Martha Scott. Like her, several of the Janes had been assisting this fake doctor for years, learning the procedures step by step.

“You’d learn how to insert a speculum, then how to swap out the vagina with an antiseptic, then how to give numbing shots around the cervix and then how to dilate the cervix. You learned and mastered each step before you moved on to the next,” said Laura Kaplan, who chronicled the procedure in her book.

By now, several of the Janes were quite experienced and willing to do the work. Why not perform the abortions themselves?

“Clearly, this was an intense responsibility,” said Judith Acana, a 27-year-old high school teacher who joined Jane in 1970. She started her training by helping “long terms,” women who were four or five months along in the pregnancy.

“Remember, abortion was illegal (in Illinois) so it could take weeks for a woman to find help,” said Arcana, now 80. “Frequently women who wanted an abortion at 8 or 10 weeks wound up being 16 or 18 weeks or more by the time they found Jane.”

The miscarriage could happen quickly, but it rarely did, she said. It usually took anywhere from one to two days.

“Women who had no one to help them would come back when contractions started,” Arcana said. “One of my strongest memories is of a teenage girl who had an appointment to have her miscarriage on my living room floor.”

The group also paid two Janes to live in an apartment and be on call 24/7 to assist women who had no one to help them miscarry at home, said Arcana, a lifelong educator, author and poet. “But many women took care of it on their own, in very amazing and impressive and powerful ways,” she said.

Judith Arcana learned how to do abortions herself and wrote about the Jane experience in poems, stories, essays and books.

Any woman who had concerns or questions while miscarrying alone could always call Jane for advice any time of the day or night.

“People would call in a panic: ‘The bleeding won’t stop,’” Smith recalled. “I would tell them, ‘Get some ice, put it on your stomach, elevate your legs, relax.’ And they would say ‘Oh my gosh, thank you!’ because they were so scared.”

For women who were in their first trimester, Jane offered traditional D&C abortions — the same dilation and curettage used by hospitals then and today, said Scott, who performed many of the abortions for Jane. Later the group used vacuum aspiration, which was over in a mere five to 10 minutes.

“Vacuum aspiration was much easier to do, and I think it’s less difficult for the woman,” Scott said. “Abortion is exactly like any other medical procedure. It’s the decision that’s an issue — the doing is very straightforward. This was something a competent, trained person could do.”

It was May 3, 1972. Judith Arcana was the driver that day, responsible for relocating women waiting at what was called “the front” to a separate apartment or house where the abortions were done, known as “the place.”

On this day, a Wednesday, the “place” was a South Shore high-rise apartment. Arcana was escorting a woman who had completed her abortion when they were stopped by police at the elevator.

“They asked us, ‘Which apartment did you come out of?’ And the poor woman burst into tears and blurted out the apartment number,” Arcana said. “They took me downstairs, put cuffs on me and hooked me to a steel hook inside of the police van.”

Inside the apartment on the 11th floor, Martha Scott said she was setting up the bedroom for the next abortion when she heard a knock at the door, followed by screaming: “You can’t come in!”

“I shut the bedroom door and locked it,” Scott said, then hid the instruments and sat on the bed to wait. It wasn’t long until a cop kicked the door in and made her join the other women in the living room.

“We tell this joke about how the cops came in, saw all these women and said, ‘Where’s the abortionist?’ You know, assuming that it would be a man,” Scott said.

By day’s end, seven members of Jane were behind bars: Martha Scott, Diane Stevens, Judy Arcana, Jeanne Galatzer-Levy, Abby Pariser, Sheila Smith and Madeleine Schwenk. Suddenly what had been an underground effort for years was front page headlines.

“Had we not gotten arrested, I think no one would ever have known about Jane other than the women we served,” Scott said.

Top: Sheila Smith and Martha Scott.
Bottom: Diane Stevens and Judith Arcana.

An emergency meeting of Jane was called. The turnout was massive — even women who had not been active in months showed up, anxious to know the extent of the police probe, according to the women with whom CNN spoke.

Despite widespread fear and worry, the group immediately began making alternate plans for women scheduled for abortions at Jane in the next few days to weeks. The group even paid for transportation to other cities where abortion had already been legalized, they said.

News reports over the next few days gave further details of the bust: There was no widespread investigation by the police. It was a single incident, triggered by a call from a sister-in-law who was upset with her relative’s decision to have an abortion, they said.

“It wasn’t long after I was arrested that I came back and worked for quite a few months,” said Scott, one of the few fully trained to do abortions.

“I like to think I was a good soldier,” Scott said. “I like to think what did made a difference not only to a whole bunch of people, but also to ourselves. It gave us a sense of empowerment that comes when you do something that is hard to do and also right.”

As paranoia eased, women began to come back to work at Jane, determined to carry on.

“After the bust, we had a meeting and were told ‘Everybody needs to start assisting and learn how to do abortions.’ I was like, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa!’” said Eileen Smith, who had not been arrested. “But you felt like you really didn’t have much of a choice. We had to keep the service running.”

Laura Kaplan volunteered for the Janes, later immortalizing the group in her book,

The preliminary hearing for the arrested seven was in August. Several of the women in the apartment waiting for abortions the day of the arrest suddenly developed amnesia and refused to testify. According to Kaplan’s book, one of the women later said, “The cops tried to push me around, but f**k them. I wasn’t going to tell on you.”

It didn’t matter. Each Jane was charged with 11 counts of abortion and conspiracy to commit abortion, with a possible sentence of up to 110 years in prison.

As they waited for trial, the lawyer for the seven, Jo-Anne Wolfson, adopted delaying tactics, Kaplan said. A case representing a Texas woman, cited as “Jane Roe” to protect her privacy, was being considered by the US Supreme Court. If the Court ruled in Roe’s favor, the case against the Jane’s might be thrown out.

That’s exactly what happened. On March 9, 1973, three months after the Supreme Court had legalized abortion in the US, the case against the seven women was dropped and their arrest records were expunged.

Later that spring, a majority of Janes, burned out by the intensity of the work over the last few years, voted to close shop. An end of Jane party was held on May 20. According to Kaplan’s book, the invitation read:

“You are cordially invited to attend The First, Last and Only Curette Caper; the Grand Finale of the Abortion Counseling Service. RSVP: Call Jane.”

Today, most of the surviving members of Jane are in their 70s and 80s, shocked but somehow not surprised by the actions of abortion opponents.

“This is a country of ill-educated politicos who know nothing about women’s bodies, nor do they care,” said Dorie Barron. “It will take generations to even begin to undo the devastating harm to women’s rights.”

In the meantime, women should research all available options, keep that information confidential, seek support from groups working for abortion rights, and “share your education with as many women as you can,” Barron added.

As more and more reproductive freedoms have been rolled back over the past year, many of the Janes are angry and fearful for the future.

Abortion rights demonstrators walk across the Brooklyn Bridge in New York nearly two weeks after the leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade.

“This is about the most intimate decision of our lives — when, whether and with whom we have a child. Everyone should have the ability to make decisions about our own lives, bodies, and futures without political interference,” said Heather Booth, who has spent her life after leaving Jane fighting for civil and women’s rights.

“We need to organize, raise our voices and our votes, and overturn this attack on our freedom and our lives. I have seen that when we take action and organize we can change the world.”

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US Supreme Court maintains abortion pill access for now as legal fight continues

Access to a widely used abortion pill will remain at current levels for the time being, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Friday in a decision staving off sweeping restrictions ordered by lower courts.

The high court’s decision keeps the drug, mifepristone, available for now, but the legal battle over the drug, which has become the most common method of abortion nationwide, could drag on for months if not years to come.

Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas dissented from the Supreme Court’s action, which prevents earlier rulings from a Texas-based judge and a federal appeals court from taking effect.

Those rulings would have suspended several policies the FDA enacted since 2016 to make mifepristone more accessible — including telemedicine prescription, mail delivery, retail pharmacy dispensing and the approval of a generic version of the drug. The lower-court action also would have scaled back the federally approved use of the drug from 10 weeks of pregnancy to seven weeks — before many patients know they are pregnant.

The Supreme Court’s unsigned order on Friday keeps those rulings blocked while litigation continues — first at the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and then, perhaps, back at the Supreme Court. As a result, the status quo for access to mifepristone will likely remain in place through the fall and perhaps well into next year.

The case could return to the justices for full briefing, oral arguments and a final decision in the summer of 2024, just as the presidential campaign gets into full swing.

President Joe Biden cheered the brief Friday ruling for “preventing a lower court decision from going into effect that would have undermined FDA’s medical judgment and put women’s health at risk.”

“As a result of the Supreme Court’s stay, mifepristone remains available and approved for safe and effective use while we continue this fight in the courts,” he said.

As is often the case when acting on requests for emergency relief, the court’s majority did not explain its reasons for granting the stay.

Thomas also offered no explanation for opposing the stay, but Alito wrote a four-page opinion detailing his reasons for rejecting it, often echoing arguments made by the anti-abortion challengers in the case.

Alito wrote the majority opinion last June in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which ended the federal constitutional right to abortion. But no other justice signed onto his dissent on Friday.

He argued that his colleagues should have allowed an April 12 preliminary ruling from the 5th Circuit to be implemented because the Biden administration and Danco Laboratories, the drug company that makes the brand-name version of mifepristone, didn’t show that they would “suffer irreparable harm” under that ruling.

The restrictions on the drug ordered by the appeals court, Alito wrote, “would not remove mifepristone from the market” but “would simply restore the circumstances that existed (and that the Government defended) from 2000 to 2016 under three Presidential administrations.”

Alito also speculated that, if the high court had allowed the 5th Circuit’s ruling to take effect, the Biden administration might have used “enforcement discretion” to avoid implementing the restrictions.

Danco and another drug company — GenBioPro, which makes the generic version of the drug — had told the Supreme Court that the restrictions ordered by the 5th Circuit could amount to a nationwide ban of the drug, at least temporarily. GenBioPro would lose its federal approval for the generic version, and Danco would have to revise its product labels, recertify providers, apply to the FDA for a new regulatory framework and jump through other time-consuming administrative hoops, potentially cutting off access to the pill for months.

Attorneys for anti-abortion groups dismissed these claims, urging the high court to “restore a modicum of safety for the women and girls who use the drug” by reimposing the FDA’s pre-2016 restrictions.

The fight over mifepristone now returns to the conservative-leaning 5th Circuit, which will review briefs from both sides beginning next week and is set to hear oral arguments on May 17.

Mifepristone has been used for decades as part of a two-drug medication regimen to induce an abortion early in pregnancy. These medication abortions have become increasingly popular, particularly as patients have availed themselves of the newer options for access, including drugs prescribed via telemedicine and sent through the mail. In the wake of the Dobbs decision, which allowed states to ban abortion within their borders, the pills have also become a key way patients have circumvented those laws.

Last year, anti-abortion medical groups sued to revoke the FDA’s original 2000 approval of mifepristone as well as the agency’s policies expanding access to the drug over the past seven years. A federal district judge appointed by former president Donald Trump, Matthew Kacsmaryk, issued a preliminary ruling earlier this month largely siding with the challengers. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals narrowed Kacmsaryk’s ruling, keeping the drug on the market but suspending the policies that broadened access.

Numerous studies have found mifepristone to be safe and effective — whether dispensed in-person by a doctor or sent by mail. The country’s leading medical groups, including the American Medical Association, have petitioned courts to uphold FDA approval of the pill, vouching for the agency’s rigor and warning that siding with the challengers would open the door to a wave of cases going after everything from vaccines to birth control. The pharmaceutical industry has also cautioned that companies will hesitate to seek approval for new cures if they fear FDA approval could someday be second-guessed and overturned by courts.

While the Supreme Court’s decision maintains access to mifepristone at the federal level for now, Democratic state officials and medical groups are bracing for the possibility that judges could implement restrictions in the months ahead. Legislatures in some red states are also moving to enact state restrictions on the drug, on top of existing laws restricting abortions more generally.

Several blue states have recently moved to stockpile doses of either mifepristone or misoprostol — the second pill commonly used with mifepristone for medication abortions. Misoprostol can also terminate a pregnancy on its own, but it carries a slightly higher rate of complication and more side effects than the two drugs together.

Clinics as well as online vendors are preparing their doctors and nurses to pivot to offering misoprostol-only abortions if necessary. The drug, which is also used to treat stomach ulcers, is subject to fewer FDA restrictions than mifepristone.

The Supreme Court’s order came one week after the case reached the justices on an emergency basis. Alito, who handles emergency requests emerging from the 5th Circuit, acted twice to place temporary holds on the 5th Circuit’s ruling so that the justices could have more time to consider the matter.



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Putting health back in health care

Advances in medical science and technology are rapidly changing and as we saw with the pandemic, diagnostic tests play a pivotal role in health care decision making. They inform treatment decisions, save costs and, most importantly, deliver better outcomes for patients. Unfortunately, these life-changing innovations are all too often not available to many of the people who need them most. Currently, 47 percent of the global population and 81 percent of people in low and lower-middle income countries have little or no access to life-saving diagnostics.

If you’re following the policy trend at large — or even if you’re not — this is where we inevitably turn to discussions of the role of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in the pursuit of better access to screening and diagnosis. Population health is not only in the best interest of individual countries, but as evidenced by a global pandemic, it is important to global health as well. UHC — ensuring people can access the health care they need, when they need it, without financial hardship — is foundational to improving world health care.  

Currently, 47 percent of the global population and 81 percent of people in low and lower-middle income countries have little or no access to life-saving diagnostics.

So, where do we start? With better access to diagnostics.

After the world faced a global pandemic and pulled together, we all learned vital lessons which must not be forgotten. First and foremost, we saw that by working together and sharing information early, we could develop diagnostics and vaccines faster. This learning must extend beyond times of crisis.

We also saw that health systems with well-developed diagnostics infrastructure were more effective at containing and controlling the pandemic. And they were better able to continue providing essential diagnostic tests and treatment monitoring for patients with other diseases such as cancer.        

Normally, it would take years to bring a new test to market. Here — through focus and collaboration — we managed to do so in months.

As the world responded to urgent calls for better access to COVID-19 tests, hopes were also expressed that this would spark innovation leading to widespread testing, vaccines and treatments, which ultimately would reduce the spread of the pandemic.

After the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 as a public health concern, the urgency galvanized companies to work at full speed. The first Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests for SARS-CoV-2 were available for limited laboratory use within eight days. Only 64 days later PCR tests were authorized for use and available for scaled-up testing in major health centers.[1]

Normally, it would take years to bring a new test to market. Here — through focus and collaboration — we managed to do so in months.

As reported by the Lancet Commission, investing in diagnostic capabilities has been shown to lead to fewer misdiagnoses, better use of resources, and better patient care.

Driven by necessity, countries invested in diagnostics capabilities to fight the virus and, as reported by The Lancet, real change was seen at a pace that would previously have seemed impossible.

Why stop there? 

Ann Costello, Global Head of Roche Diagnostics Solutions | via Roche

The recommended WHO Resolution on strengthening diagnostics capacity represents an important step toward recognizing access to diagnostics as a policy priority as well as establishing concrete policy measures, to ensure equitable and timely access. It would pave the way for a considerable shift in strengthening our health care systems, driving progress toward global health equity and global health security.

As reported by the Lancet Commission[2], investing in diagnostic capabilities has been shown to lead to fewer misdiagnoses, better use of resources, and better patient care.

Early diagnosis is the cornerstone of sustainable, efficient and resilient health care systems. This in turn would reduce late-stage health care expenditures, including long-term costs of chronic disease management and disability, and better manage costs for patients, payors and governments. 

Increasing access to diagnostics is crucial to controlling and potentially even eradicating certain diseases like cervical cancer, HIV, tuberculosis, viral hepatitis and malaria.

Laboratories are an essential component of a sustainable, efficient and resilient health system. But only if there’s enough of them and trained staff to run them. 

The crux of the matter is that staff shortages in both high-income countries and low- and middle-income countries continue to create a barrier to diagnostic services. 

How short-staffed are we? Well, to put a number on it, an estimated shortage in diagnostic workforce capacity saw a need for an additional 480,000-576,000 staff to support diagnostic testing.[2] And who loses when we don’t have enough skilled laboratory professionals? Patients.

Investment in diagnostics such as improving laboratory infrastructure and workforce development must also be supported by smart local regulatory approaches. This will ensure that patients, regardless of where they live, have timely access to innovation and safe, effective diagnostics.

Health care could enter a new golden age, shifting our focus from primarily treating disease to preserving health through prevention and by helping people live longer, more healthy lives.

This can be through adherence to international best practices, such as those created by International Medical Device Regulators Forum and implementation of regulatory reliance models — where one regulatory body (or the WHO) relies on the decisions, such as marketing authorizations, inspections and product changes, already made by trusted authorities and recognized institutions.

Governments should prioritize expansion of professionals with expertise in pathology and laboratory medicine[3] and introduce laboratory personnel as a key component of workforce initiatives to address the needs of currently over-burdened health care systems. 

A new golden age for health care?

Roche is building partnerships to increase access to diagnostic solutions in low- and middle-income countries and to strengthen targeted laboratory systems through workforce training classes. In May 2022, Roche entered a partnership with the Global Fund to support low- and middle-income countries in strengthening critical diagnostics infrastructure. The aim is building local capacity to tackle infrastructure challenges to improve diagnostic results and manage health care waste. This is in line with Roche’s ambition to double patient access to innovative, high-medical-value diagnostics for people around the world.

Health care could enter a new golden age, shifting our focus from primarily treating disease to preserving health through prevention and by helping people live longer, more healthy lives.

To achieve the golden age we need to learn from the past. All public and private stakeholders have a duty to work together to ensure diagnostics continue to improve health outcomes around the world by bringing this important resolution to life. 

Where a person lives should no longer be the key determining factor in their health. We have a tremendous opportunity here, let’s take it. 


[1] Accelerating diagnostic tests to prevent a future pandemic. Bill Rodriguez. Cepi. Available at: https://100days.cepi.net/100-days-mission-diagnostic-test-future-pandemic/ (Accessed 04.04.2023)

[2] The Lancet Commission on diagnostics: transforming access to diagnostics. Fleming, Kenneth A et al.The Lancet, Volume 398, Issue 10315, 1997 – 2050. https://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lancet/PIIS0140-6736(21)00673-5.pdf

[3] https://www.ihe.net/ihe_domains/ihe_pathology_and_laboratory_medicine/ (Accessed: 04.04.2023)



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The EU greenwashed fossil gas. Today, we are suing.

Last July, EU policymakers decided to greenwash fossil gas. Today, the WWF European Policy Office, Client Earth, BUND and Transport & Environment are taking them to the European Court of Justice.

We are doing it to reassert a basic truth: all fossil fuels are dangerous for the planet. Only last summer, European cities baked under fierce heatwaves, rivers across our continent ran dry, and whole swathes of France, Spain, and Portugal were burned by unprecedented wildfires. In the midst of this devastation, the EU approved a new chapter of its supposed green investment guidebook — the EU Taxonomy — which stated that fossil gas-fired electricity is ‘green’. In fact, fossil gas is a fossil fuel that can cause plumes of methane that harm the climate just as badly as coal.

However, under the guise of climate action, the gas Taxonomy could divert tens of billions of euros from green projects into the very fossil fuels which are causing those heatwaves, droughts, and wildfires. This is while scientific experts at the International Energy Agency and the United Nations continue to stress that we must halt any expansion of fossil fuels and invest exclusively in developing clean energy sources. Even the EU’s own experts have said we must use much less gas by 2030. The gas Taxonomy is not just at odds with the science: it also flies in the face of market dynamics. Renewable investments across the world reached $500 billion last year, which shows that there is already a massive, readily available alternative to gas-fired power.

For all these reasons, having previously filed a request for the Commission to review the gas Taxonomy, we are filing a case at the CJEU today. We will argue that the gas Taxonomy, and the Commission’s refusal to review it, clash with the European Climate Law, the precautionary principle, and the Taxonomy Regulation — the law on which the Taxonomy is built. It also undermines the EU’s obligations under the Paris Agreement. We expect a judgment within the next two years.

Fossil gas at the heart of two European crises

Europe faces two interlocking crises: an inflation crisis and a climate crisis. Fossil gas is at the heart of both. Had we decided to invest with more determination in renewables and energy efficiency even just 10 years ago, our continent would not have been so dependent on energy imports. We would not have faced such great spikes in energy and food prices, which disproportionately hurt our poorest citizens. We would be closer to meeting our Paris Agreement goals.

Instead,  largely due to decades of industry pressure — the gas lobby spends up to €78 million a year in Brussels alone — our continent has remained extremely dependent on destructive fossil fuels. That dependency must end. It is high time to direct billions of euros into installing more renewables more quickly, with a focus on secure, cheap wind and solar power. It is time to expand the technologies to back them up, such as building insulation, energy storage, and strong grids. And above all, it is time to stop the lie that putting money into any fossil fuel will help the green transition. That is the purpose of our legal case.

Policymakers and financial institutions beware

EU policymakers are increasingly inserting references to the EU Taxonomy into other policies. If our case is successful, and the Taxonomy’s gas criteria are overturned, any legislation tying gas financing to the Taxonomy would become inapplicable.

Policymakers beware: the Taxonomy is on shaky ground, and you should not use it to justify new gas investments. Fossil fuel companies that get hooked on green funding will face a rude awakening if our legal case cuts that support off. They may even incur steep losses if they have made investments based on EU policies only to find that gas has been struck out of them.

Fossil fuel companies that get hooked on green funding will face a rude awakening if our legal case cuts that support off.

Financial institutions also face real reputational, financial and legal risks from the gas Taxonomy. Fossil gas is excluded from the global green bond market. Leading institutions such as the European Investment Bank or the Dutch pension federation have openly criticized the Taxonomy’s greenwashing. What is more, taxonomies in several other countries exclude fossil gas-fired power, so the European one lags behind. Any financial institution that uses the EU Taxonomy to justify investing in fossil gas assets therefore risks direct, robust and repeated attacks on its reputation.

The inexorable public policy shift towards energy efficiency and renewables, and the plummeting price of wind and solar power, have made fossil gas-fired power uncompetitive. Investments in more fossil gas, even if encouraged by the EU Taxonomy, would quickly result in stranded assets and could even cause billion-euro losses. Financial institutions must guard against these risks by stopping their support for gas expansion now.

Finally, if our case is successful, financial institutions could find they have purchased or sold products mislabeled as ‘green’. They must be careful to verify the legal consequences of such an event, particularly for its impact on any climate claims they have made.

Our message to the EU

Policymakers and financial institutions should note that the Taxonomy faces four further court cases: one from the governments of Austria and Luxembourg, one from Greenpeace, one from the Trinational Association for Nuclear Protection (ATPN) and another from MEP René Repasi. The EU’s greenwashing is now being discredited from all sides – amongst scientists, in financial markets, and soon, we expect, by the judiciary.

Our message to the EU is simple: do not help fossil lobbyists to block our continent’s move to clean, cheap and secure energy. If you do, we will meet you head-on.

Victor Hugo once said that nobody can stop an idea whose time has come. Today, despite much fossil fuel lobbying, denial and delay, it is the turn of the green transition. Our message to the EU is simple: do not help fossil lobbyists to block our continent’s move to clean, cheap and secure energy. If you do, we will meet you head-on.

See you in court.



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Men with advanced prostate cancer going without life-prolonging medication amid shortage | CNN



CNN
 — 

Doctors across the United States who treat people with advanced prostate cancer can’t find supplies of a medicine that may help them live longer.

Pluvicto, a drug to treat metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer, also known as mCRPC, is in such short supply that its maker, Novartis, said it cannot allow further supply to new patients until it can produce more of the drug. The company said it is working to produce enough doses to treat existing patients.

“We recognize that this situation is distressing for patients whether they are currently in the treatment process and being rescheduled, or waiting for their first dose of Pluvicto,” Novartis said in a statement to CNN. “Any interruption in the process, from unplanned manufacturing events to doses not arriving in time, may result in patient doses being rescheduled and can have a cascading effect on patients scheduled for future treatment.”

The Swiss company said it has been in touch with treatment centers and providers in the US and is “actively engaging with them to manage rescheduling of patient doses.”

The problem is that Novartis’ manufacturing facility in Ivrea, Italy, can’t keep up with demand for the drug. In May, it had to suspend production at the facility due to what it said was “an abundance of caution” related to potential quality issues. It also paused production at a New Jersey plant that makes the drug for the Canadian market.

Novartis resumed production at both plants in June.

The company hopes to get the New Jersey plant authorized to produce the drug for the US market, but it’s not clear when that might happen. Novartis said in early March that it had completed its filing for approval from the US Food and Drug Administration.

Someone who has a late-stage cancer that has spread to other parts of the body doesn’t have a lot of time to wait for the company to make more, doctors say, nor do they have many other treatment options. So even if Novartis got approval for the New Jersey plant quickly, the help will come too late for many people, according to Dr. Daniel Spratt, chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center in Cleveland.

Novartis said it is prioritizing people who are currently being treated with Pluvicto, which is given in six cycles. But Spratt said the supply has recently been too low even for some of these patients.

“Many patients are missing months of therapy,” he said. “The real tragedy is the patients partially under treatment who have had great responses and we can’t get them the rest of their therapy in a timely fashion.”

Next to skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men, according to the American Cancer Society. Most men do not die from prostate cancer, but about 34,700 people are expected to die from it this year. It’s the second leading cause of cancer death for American men, behind only lung cancer.

Pluvicto is a targeted radioligand therapy, meaning it uses radioactive atoms to deliver radiation to targeted cells, fighting cancer while limiting damage to the surrounding tissues.

There is no cure for this advanced stage of cancer, but Pluvicto can help people live longer. When the drug got FDA approval in March 2022, Spratt said, there was a lot of excitement about its potential. His patients who had heard about the trials have been asking about it for years.

One study from Novartis’ trials found that people who got the drug lived a median of about 15 months after diagnosis, four months longer than the median for people who didn’t get the treatment. For a handful of people, the recovery is even more dramatic.

“There are some patients that really do have those sort of miraculous responses, so it does occasionally give us one of those ‘wow’ moments,” said Dr. William Dahut, chief scientific officer at the American Cancer Society.

Dahut said doctors also like Pluvicto because, compared with other cancer treatments, it’s easy to administer and has relatively few side effects, other than dry mouth.

Another side effect of the shortage is that it’s slowing the progression of research. There is some indication that the drug could help people before their cancer reaches such a late stage.

“We’re anxious to have greater supply to study it in broader populations,” Dahut said.

Spratt said he is working closely with the medical oncologists in his health care system to try to find alternative treatment options, and he’s been looking to get people into clinical trials so they can get access to the therapy.

“But there’s really very few options available,” he said.

Novartis said that if the FDA approves its plant in Milburn, New Jersey, it could supply more Pluvicto as early as this summer.

The agency told CNN that it “is not able to discuss details regarding any possible communications or actions with companies due to commercial confidential information.”

“To be clear, FDA does not manufacture, produce, bottle, or ship drugs and cannot force companies to do so or make more of a drug. However, in general, the FDA works with firms making drugs in shortage to help them ramp up production if they are willing to do so. Often, they need new production lines approved or need new raw material sources approved to help increase supplies. FDA can and does expedite review of these to help resolve shortages of medically necessary drugs.”

Novartis is also building a plant in Indianapolis where the drug will be produced, but that won’t be up and running until the end of the year, the company said.

In the meantime, doctors will often have to tell their patients that they probably won’t be able to help get them this life-extending drug for some time.

“Some men and their physicians will feel that some hope was taken from them,” Spratt siad. “Cancer is the enemy here, not the company, but it’s unfortunate to have that excitement that your physician will be able to prescribe it to you and just not be able to give it to them.”

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Is Guinness really ‘good for you’? | CNN

Editor’s Note: Get inspired by a weekly roundup on living well, made simple. Sign up for CNN’s Life, But Better newsletter for information and tools designed to improve your well-being.



CNN
 — 

Guinness, like other Irish stouts, enjoys a seasonal popularity every St. Patrick’s Day. It has also been touted as being “good for you,” at least by its own advertising posters decades ago.

But can this creamy, rich and filling beer really be added to a list of healthy beverages? Or is its reputation just good marketing? We researched the beer’s history and talked to brewing experts and break out the good, the not-so-great and the ingenuity of Guinness.

The original Guinness is a type of ale known as stout. It’s made from a grist (grain) that includes a large amount of roasted barley, which gives it its intense burnt flavor and very dark color. And though you wouldn’t rank it as healthful as a vegetable, the stouts in general, as well as other beers, may be justified in at least some of their nutritional bragging rights.

According to Charlie Bamforth, distinguished professor emeritus of brewing sciences at the University of California, Davis, most beers contain significant amounts of antioxidants, B vitamins, the mineral silicon (which may help protect against osteoporosis), soluble fiber and prebiotics, which promote the growth of “good” bacteria in your gut.

And Guinness may have a slight edge compared with other brews, even over other stouts.

“We showed that Guinness contained the most folate of the imported beers we analyzed,” Bamforth said. Folate is a B vitamin that our bodies need to make DNA and other genetic material. It’s also necessary for cells to divide. According to his research, stouts on average contain 12.8 micrograms of folate, or 3.2% of the recommended daily allowance.

Because Guinness contains a lot of unmalted barley, which contains more fiber than malted grain, it is also one of the beers with the highest levels of fiber, according to Bamforth. (Note: Though the US Department of Agriculture lists beer as containing zero grams of fiber, Bamforth said his research shows otherwise.)

Bamforth has researched and coauthored studies published in the Journal of the Institute of Brewing and the Journal of the American Society of Brewing Chemists.

Here’s more potentially good news about Guinness: Despite its rich flavor and creamy consistency, it’s not the highest in calories compared with other beers. A 12-ounce serving of Guinness Draught has 125 calories. By comparison, the same size serving of Budweiser has 145 calories, Heineken has 142 calories, and Samuel Adams Cream Stout has 189 calories. In the United States, Guinness Extra Stout, by the way, has 149 calories.

This makes sense when you consider that alcohol is the main source of calories in beers. Guinness Draught has a lower alcohol content, at 4.2% alcohol by volume, compared with 5% for Budweiser and Heineken, and 4.9% for the Samuel Adams Cream Stout.

In general, moderate alcohol consumption – defined by the USDA’s dietary guidelines for Americans as no more than two drinks per day for men or one drink per day for women – may protect against heart disease. So you can check off another box.

Guinness is still alcohol, and consuming too much can impair judgment and contribute to weight gain. Heavy drinking (considered more than 14 drinks a week for men or more than seven drinks a week for women) and binge drinking (five or more drinks for men, and four or more for women, in about a two-hour period) are also associated with many health problems, including liver disease, pancreatitis and high blood pressure.

According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, “alcohol is the most commonly used addictive substance in the United States: 17.6 million people, or one in every 12 adults, suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence along with several million more who engage in risky, binge drinking patterns that could lead to alcohol problems.”

And while moderate consumption of alcohol may have heart benefits for some, consumption of alcohol can also increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer for each drink consumed daily.

Many decades ago, in Ireland, it would not have been uncommon for a doctor to advise pregnant and nursing women to drink Guinness. But today, experts (particularly in the United States) caution of the dangers associated with consuming any alcohol while pregnant.

“Alcohol is a teratogen, which is something that causes birth defects. It can cause damage to the fetal brain and other organ systems,” said Dr. Erin Tracy, an OB/GYN at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive gynecology. “We don’t know of any safe dose of alcohol in pregnancy. Hence we recommend abstaining entirely during this brief period of time in a woman’s life.”

What about beer for breastfeeding? “In Britain, they have it in the culture that drinking Guinness is good for nursing mothers,” said Karl Siebert, professor emeritus of the food science department and previous director of the brewing program at Cornell University.

Beer in general has been regarded as a galactagogue, or stimulant of lactation, for much of history. In fact, according to irishtimes.com, breastfeeding women in Ireland were once given a bottle of Guinness a day in maternity hospitals.

According to Domhnall Marnell, the Guinness ambassador, Guinness Original (also known as Guinness Extra Stout, depending on where it was sold) debuted in 1821, and for a time, it contained live yeast, which had a high iron content, so it was given to anemic individuals or nursing mothers then, before the effects of alcohol were fully understood.

Some studies have showed evidence that ingredients in beer can increase prolactin, a hormone necessary for milk production; others have showed the opposite. Regardless of the conclusions, the alcohol in beer also appears to counter the benefits associated with increased prolactin secretion.

“The problem is that alcohol temporarily inhibits the milk ejection reflex and overall milk supply, especially when ingested in large amounts, and chronic alcohol use lowers milk supply permanently,” said Diana West, coauthor of “The Breastfeeding Mother’s Guide to Making More Milk.”

“Barley can be eaten directly, or even made from commercial barley drinks, which would be less problematic than drinking beer,” West said.

If you’re still not convinced that beer is detrimental to breastfeeding, consider this fact: A nursing mother drinking any type of alcohol puts her baby in potential danger. “The fetal brain is still developing after birth – and since alcohol passes into breast milk, the baby is still at risk,” Tracy said.

“This is something we would not advocate today,” Marnell agreed. “We would not recommend to anyone who is pregnant or breastfeeding to be enjoying our products during this time in their life.”

Regarding the old wives’ tale about beer’s effects on breastfeeding, Marnell added, “It’s not something that Guinness has perpetuated … and if (people are still saying it), I’d like to say once and for all, it’s not something we support or recommend.”

Assuming you are healthy and have the green light to drink beer, you might wonder why Guinness feels like you’ve consumed a meal, despite its lower calorie and alcohol content.

It has to do with the sophistication that goes into producing and pouring Guinness. According to Bamforth, for more than half a century, Guinness has put nitrogen gas into its beer at the packaging stage, which gives smaller, more stable bubbles and delivers a more luscious mouthfeel. It also tempers the harsh burnt character coming from the roasted barley. Guinness cans, containing a widget to control the pour, also have some nitrogen.

Guinness is also dispensed through a special tap that uses a mixture of carbon dioxide and nitrogen. “In Ireland, Guinness had a long history of hiring the best and brightest university graduates regardless of what they were trained in,” Siebert said. “And they put them to work on things they needed. One was a special tap for dispensing Guinness, which has 11 different nozzles in it, that helps to form the fine-bubbled foam.”

The foam is remarkably long-lasting. “After you get a freshly poured Guinness, you can make a face in the foam, and by the time you finish drinking it, the face is still there,” Siebert said.

The famous advertising Guinness slogans – including “It’s a good day for a Guinness” – started through word of mouth, said Marnell. “In 1929, when we were about to do our first ad, we asked (ourselves), ‘What stance should we take?’ So we sent around a group of marketers (in Ireland and the UK) to ask Guinness drinkers why they chose Guinness, and nine out of 10 said their belief was that the beer was healthy for them. We already had this reputation in the bars before we uttered a word about the beer.

“That led to the Gilroy ads that were posted,” Marnell explained, referring to the artist John Gilroy, responsible for the Guinness ads from 1928 to the 1960s. “You’ll see the characters representing the Guinness brand – the toucan, the pelican – and slogans like ‘Guinness is good for you’ or ‘Guinness for Strength.’ But those were from the 1920s, ’30s and ‘40s.”

Today, he said, the company would not claim any health benefits for its beer. “If anyone is under the impression that there are health benefits to drinking Guinness, then unfortunately, I’m the bearer of bad news. Guinness is not going to build muscle or cure you of influenza.”

In fact, Guinness’ parent company, Diageo, spends a lot of effort supporting responsible drinking initiatives and educating consumers about alcohol’s effects. Its DrinkIQ page offers information such as calories in alcohol, how your body processes it and when alcohol can be dangerous, including during pregnancy.

“One of the main things we focus on … is that while we would love people to enjoy our beer, we want to make sure they do so as responsibly as possible,” Marnell said. “We would never recommend that anyone drink to excess, and (we want to make people) aware of how alcohol effects the body.”

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  • And again: Most health providers in the US would advise forgoing all alcohol if you are pregnant, nursing or have other health or medical issues where alcohol consumption is not advised.

    So responsibly celebrate St. Patrick this year a little wiser about the health benefits and risks with one of its signature potables.

    This story originally published in 2017.



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