May 23, 2017

FDA to take new "forceful" steps on opioid abuse

(J. Scott Applewhite / AP)

The newly-confirmed FDA administrator, Scott Gottlieb, outlined a list of new steps the agency will take to crack down on opioid misuse and abuse in a blog post on Tuesday. Many people addicted to opioids first began abusing prescription painkillers, which are regulated by the agency.

He's creating a new steering committee to "explore and develop additional tools or strategies." In his post, Gottlieb outlined several questions he's asked the committee to answer:

  • Should the agency require mandatory opioid education for health care professionals?
  • Should the agency create new regulations around how many opioid pills are prescribed for specific medical conditions? (This would, for example, keep someone from being prescribed 30 pills when they only need two or three.)
  • Does the FDA have an adequate framework during the drug approval process for considering the risk of opioids?

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Japan to close schools through late March to control coronavirus outbreak

A couple takes photos in front of the Olympic rings in Tokyo. Photo: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Thursday that the government will ask elementary, middle and high schools around the country to close until late March as an attempt to contain its novel coronavirus outbreak, AP reports.

Why it matters: The government's decision — impacting 12.8 million students across 34,847 schools — comes as concerns mount about the spread of the virus in Japan, which has 189 confirmed cases and hundreds more abroad the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship.

Go deeper: The latest coronavirus updates

What the coronavirus means for Trump's presidency

Photo Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

A poor response to the coronavirus could be politically devastating for President Trump, and so far his administration has given the strong impression that it’s still scrambling as the risk of a pandemic mounts.

Why it matters: There’s only so much any president can do to stop a virus from spreading, and for now the coronavirus is still very much under control within the U.S. But if the disease get worse in the months ahead, and if the administration seems to be caught off guard, that spells trouble for public confidence in Trump.

Coronavirus updates: New global case numbers surpass China's

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus is now affecting every continent but Antarctica and the WHO said Wednesday the number of new cases reported outside China has exceeded those inside the country for the first time.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,800 people and infected over 82,000 others in some 50 countries and territories. As Denmark and Estonia reported their first cases Thursday, Scott Morrison, prime minister of Australia — which has 23 confirmed infections — told a news conference, "The risk of a global pandemic is very much upon us."

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