Good morning. Best wishes to Peter Weber, the lead on the upcoming season of The Bachelor, who had to have emergency surgery after cutting open his head on some cocktail glasses, per RadarOnline.
May he escape the situation without any surprise medical bills (or turned-off suitors).
Today's word count is 965, or ~3 minutes.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
A mysterious vaping-related lung illness has now afflicted more than 1,000 people and killed at least 21 — and America's patchwork approach to marijuana law is probably part of the problem, Axios' Dan Primack and I report.
The big picture: Most of these lung illness cases involve people who vaped THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, and many of those pods are believed to have come from the black market. A more cohesive regulatory scheme could help consumers know what to trust.
Health officials don't know yet whether the culprit is the liquids being vaped, their interaction with the vape pen materials, or a combination of the two. But legal, regulated products used as directed don't seem to be the primary cause.
Where it stands: THC is a Schedule 1 drug under federal law, severely restricting scientists' and regulators' ability to study its effects.
Yes, but: At least a few patients afflicted by the lung illness claim to have only vaped nicotine.
The bottom line: Traditional vaping deserves political attention. But so does an inconsistent regulatory framework that is contributing to serious, immediate dangers.
The Institute for Clinical and Economic Review and the pharmaceutical industry
don’t even agree on what should be considered relevant evidence when deciding if a drug is safe and effective, Axios' Bob Herman reports.
Why it matters: "This debate on what constitutes high-quality, 'real-world' evidence is not going away," said Walid Gellad, a pharmaceutical expert at the University of Pittsburgh.
Driving the news: Pharmaceutical companies that were singled out in ICER’s report yesterday on "unjustified" price hikes sent along hundreds of studies for ICER to consider in its analysis. ICER rejected almost all of them.
What we're watching: The FDA wants to use more simple trials and observational data in drug evaluations, similar to what drug companies submitted to ICER.
Our thought bubble, via Bob: ICER's report is transparent, telling readers that none of the funding for its report came from any part of the industry and outlining clearly what it considered to be acceptable research.
Medical bills have created financial hardship for most Americans within the last 5 years, including most people with high credit scores, according to a new survey by Elevate's Center for the New Middle Class.
Even worse, 43% of those surveyed said that they've had catastrophic hardship because of medical expenses over the past 5 years, including 31% of prime respondents and 59% of non-prime.
By the numbers: More than half said someone in their household had visited an emergency room in the past 5 years.
Why it matters: Health care costs are increasingly unaffordable not just to low-income or financially illiterate people, but also to those who are comfortably middle class with a proven track record of money management.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
More doctors are linking up with companies that allow them to treat patients via text or online chat, AP reports.
Why it matters: Texting provides a convenience even video chats can't provide, but there are limits to how much a doctor can help without seeing a patient at all, Axios' Marisa Fernandez writes.
The state of play: For millions of Americans, chats have a chance to limit expensive emergency room visits, improve care access and encourage more patients to keep tabs on their health.
A majority — 65% — of pregnant women in the U.S. said they were unvaccinated for influenza and whooping cough, according to a Vital Signs report released on Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Why it matters: Only 9% of women in the U.S. ages 15–44 become pregnant each year. But pregnant women accounted for at least 34% of influenza-related hospitalizations each season between 2010 and 2018, Marisa writes.
For both vaccines, lack of vaccination coverage affected women with lower socioeconomic status, black women, those who were publicly insured or who lived in the South.