November 7, 2017

Public Health & Healthcare Preparedness
Lawmakers Defend "Unprecedented" Pentagon Health Committee, Which Could Undermine FDA.
The Defense Department -- and not FDA -- would have the power to approve drugs and medical devices under the defense policy bill that's being hammered out by a conference committee, alarming congressional health staff and HHS who say it would undermine medical safety and potentially put soldiers at risk.   (Politico, 11/6/17)
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Often called "the voice of CDC," the MMWR  series is the agency's primary vehicle for scientific publication of timely, reliable, authoritative, accurate, objective, and useful public health information and recommendations.  (CDC, 11/3/17)
Chasing a Killer.
Along a narrow, winding river, a team of American scientists is traveling deep into the Congo rain forest to a village that can be reached only by boat. The scientists are from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and they have embarked on this watery journey to solve a decades-old mystery about a rare and fatal disease: monkeypox.  (Washington Post, 11/3/17)
Chipotle Stockholders' Suit Says Company, CDC Kept Secrets.
Using Freedom of Information Act requests, the attorneys representing the Chipotle stockholders pressed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for details about the track record of the Denver-based burrito chain. The CDC's records show 14 outbreaks from October 2014 through December 2016, according to court documents filed this week.  (Food Safety News, 11/3/17)
House Republicans Aim To Eliminate Tax Credits For Orphan Drugs.
As part of a sweeping tax overhaul bill, House Republicans on Thursday proposed eliminating billions of dollars in corporate tax credits that have played a key role in the booming industry to develop drugs for rare diseases.  (NPR, 11/3/17)
The Trump Administration's Misaligned Approach to Biodefense.
The Trump administration, as mandated by law, is creating a new national strategy for biodefense. The ultimate aim of a biodefense strategy is to provide security -- but the administration's processes for strategy formulation and execution are fundamentally mismatched with the goal of improving security.  (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 11/2/17)
The Shadow Government Working to Save Obamacare From Collapse.
With the Trump administration refusing to promote open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act, a cadre of former Obama officials steps in to fill the void-with an assist from the ex-president himself.  (The Atlantic, 11/2/17)
The US Government and Global Health Security.
With an initial five-year horizon (2014-2019), the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) was created to help countries build the basic capacities required under the International Health Regulations (IHR), elevate pandemic threats as a global priority, and bring together actors across governments and societies to address infectious diseases. Today, the US remains a key member of the initiative as part of the GHSA Steering Group, and recently, the Administration has expressed support for the extension of the GHSA for an additional five years.  (Kaiser Family Foundation, 11/1/17)
Global Disease Detection-Achievements in Applied Public Health Research, Capacity Building, and Public Health Diplomacy, 2001-2016.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has established 10 Global Disease Detection Program regional centers around the world that serve as centers of excellence for public health research on emerging and reemerging infectious diseases.  (Emerging Infectious Diseases, 11/1/17)
The President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis.
The primary goal of the President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis is to develop an effective set of recommendations for the President to combat the opioid crisis and drug addiction in our nation. Many of the recommendations that follow will require appropriations from Congress into the Public Health Emergency Fund, for block grants to states and to DOJ for enforcement and judicial improvements.  (The White House, 10/31/17)
Lessons Learned from Emergency Response Vaccination Efforts for Cholera, Typhoid, Yellow Fever, and Ebola.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention supports countries to plan, implement, and evaluate emergency vaccination response. Here, CDC researchers describe work of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in collaboration with global partners to support emergency vaccination against cholera, typhoid, yellow fever, and Ebola, diseases for which a new vaccine or vaccine formulation has played a major role in response.  (CDC, 10/31/17)
Opioid Use Disorders: HHS Needs Measures to Assess the Effectiveness of Efforts to Expand Access to Medication-Assisted Treatment.
The Department of Health and Human Services implemented a number of efforts to improve access to MAT for opioids, such as grant programs for rural primary care settings and allowing additional providers to prescribe buprenorphine. GAO recommended that HHS 1) set targets to measure improvements in access and 2) establish evaluation timeframes.  (GAO, 10/31/17)

See also: 
Top Dems Spell Out Criteria for New HHS Secretary.
The ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and the Senate Health Committee, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), outlined those criteria in a letter to Trump Monday, indicating they will vigorously oppose any nominee who supports many of the administration's policies and agenda items.  (The Hill, 10/31/17)

With Help from HHS More than 6,000 Dialysis Patients Get Life-Saving Treatment after Hurricanes Irma and Maria in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.
When Hurricane Irma hit the US Virgin Islands in early September, both dialysis centers on St. Thomas suffered severe damage. Working together, personnel from several HHS agencies, the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs evacuated approximately 100 dialysis patients and their caregivers from St. Thomas to Puerto Rico.  (ASPR, 10/31/17)

Pre-Clinical Antibiotic Pipeline Gets a Pick-Me-Up.
CARB-X, a public-private partnership aimed at bolstering the antibiotic pipeline, funded a diverse set of 17 early-stage drug development projects in its first year.  (Nature Reviews, 10/30/17)

Homeland Security & Disaster Preparedness
US Report Says Humans Cause Climate Change, Contradicting Top Trump Officials.
Directly contradicting much of the Trump administration's position on climate change, 13 federal agencies unveiled an exhaustive scientific report on Friday that says humans are the dominant cause of the global temperature rise that has occurred since the start of the 20th century, creating the warmest period in the history of civilization.  (New York Times, 11/3/17)

How a Pentagon Research Project Convinced Vladimir Putin of a Coming Biowar.
It all began with a thinly worded tender posted by the US Air Force's largest medical research outfit, the 59th Medical Wing, on the government's Federal Business Opportunities clearinghouse. The tender called for the collection of "synovial tissue and RNA samples" from Caucasians -- a designation that has thrown the Russians for a loop - in Russia. The tender didn't specify what the samples were intended for, but Russian journalists noticed the researchers "will not consider tissue samples from Ukraine."  (Air Force Times, 11/2/17)

Here Comes the Trump Pentagon - Finally.
After months of infighting and Senate holds, top Defense Department posts are slated to move forward.  (Foreign Policy, 11/2/17)
DHS Acting Secretary Elaine Duke Visits Puerto Rico.
Today, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke and Acting Deputy Administrator of FEMA Daniel Kaniewski traveled to Puerto Rico to discuss Hurricane Maria recovery efforts with Federal Coordinating Official Mike Byrne and his senior leadership team. The meetings included briefings from FEMA officials and the US Department of Defense, including US Northern Command and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  (Department of Homeland Security, 11/2/17)
House Questions FEMA Over Puerto Rico Power Contracts.
 The US House of Representatives' energy committee on Wednesday said it wants the Federal Emergency Management Agency to explain how it is overseeing contracts for rebuilding Puerto Rico's power grid after it was devastated by Hurricane Maria
(Reuters, 11/1/17)
FEMA: US Spending $200M a Day on Weather-Related Disasters.
FEMA Administrator Brock Long testified before the Senate Homeland Security Committee on Tuesday, and cited the 25 million Americans impacted by natural disasters in the last 50 days, along with the more than four million registered for emergency aid.  (Fox News, 11/1/17)
Officials Detail DoD Support During Unprecedented Hurricane Season.
Defense Department officials told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee yesterday how DoD has supported federal, state and local officials in responding to the unprecedented series of hurricanes this year.  (Department of Defense, 11/1/17)
From Moscow to Havana: Secret Weapons and Diplomats.
Last year, US government personnel in Cuba began complaining of a variety of health problems: hearing loss, dizziness, tinnitus, vision issues, and cognitive issues, to name just a few. Some reported hearing loud noises or vibrations, while others reported nothing before their symptoms kicked in.  (Foreign Policy, 10/31/17)
Should FEMA be a Standalone Agency?
major proposed realignment has focused on removing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) from the Department of Homeland Security. Some have asserted that FEMA could be more effective as a stand-alone cabinet-level department. Others have argued that the melding of FEMA into the department provides synergy and resources that support FEMA's overall mission.  (National Interest, 10/29/17)

Science & Technology Policy
Lamar Smith Won't Seek Reelection to House.
The 16-term Texas Republican is one of the longest-serving members of the state's congressional delegation, and has often tussled with academics, scientific organizations and government regulators since become Science chairman in 2013.  (Politico, 11/2/17)
High-Containment Laboratories: Coordinated Actions Needed to Enhance the Select Agent Program's Oversight of Hazardous Pathogens.
Laboratories conduct research on hazardous pathogens-such as Ebola virus or anthrax bacteria-in more than 200 labs in the United States. Safety lapses continue to occur at some of these labs, raising concerns about whether oversight is effective.  (GAO, 10/31/17)

Trump's Nominee For NASA Chief Could Remake The Agency.
Before Rep. Jim Bridenstine was nominated to lead NASA, he already had unorthodox ideas about what it should do. In 2016, as one of Oklahoma's congressmen, he proposed the American Space Renaissance Act, which he called a "pioneering doctrine" that would refocus NASA's mission. The space agency would concentrate on human spaceflight and "permanently secure the United States of America as the preeminent spacefaring nation."  (FiveThirtyEight, 10/31/17)
Pentagon Tech Advisers Want Special Career Track, "Innovation Elevator" for Big Thinkers.
The Defense Innovation Board, or DIB, a group empowered to report directly to Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis on the best way to grow America's military technological edge, believes the traditional system simply is no longer viable for meeting technological needs.  (Defense News, 10/26/17)
This Week's Hearings

How Effective is the Science and Technology Directorate?: Stakeholder Perspectives. US House Committee on Homeland Security, Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response. 11/7/2017, 10 AM. House Capitol Visitor Center, Room 210. More


Nomination of Kirstjen M. Nielsen to be Secretary, US Department of Homeland Security. US Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs. 11/8/17, 10 AM. Dirksen 342.  More

Examining Challenges in Puerto Rico's Recovery and the Role of the Financial Oversight and Management Board. US House Committee on Natural Resources. 11/7/17, 10 AM. Longworth 1324.  More

Hearing on Hurricane Recovery Efforts in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. US Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources. 11/14/17, 9:30 AM. Dirksen 366More

The Need for Transparent Financial Accountability in Territories' Disaster Recovery Efforts. US House Committee on Natural Resources. 11/14/17, 2 PM. Longworth 1324.  More

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