Jan 7, 2020

Controversial antidepressant Spravato isn't widely used by the VA

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals

President Trump said that he'd directed the Veterans Affairs system to buy "a lot" of a new antidepressant, but so far the agency has treated only 15 veterans with it, STAT reports.

The intrigue: The drug — Spravato, a nasal spray developed by Janssen — has been cautiously rolled out, partially because of questions surrounding the data used for the drug's approval and, thus, its effectiveness.

  • The VA's medical advisory board declined to approve coverage of Spravato for all veterans over the summer, and restricted its use to limited scenarios.
  • The drug's rollout in private clinics and hospitals has also been slow, as providers have struggled to get preauthorization from insurers to administer the drug or reimbursement for monitoring patients after they take it.

The bottom line: Although Trump touted the drug as having "incredible" results, it's available in only seven VA facilities out of 1,200.

Go deeper: Concerns mount over depression drug Spravato as VA approval looms

Go deeper

Updated 53 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 6,703,686 — Total deaths: 393,393 — Total recoveries — 2,906,748Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 1,885,197 — Total deaths: 108,708 — Total recoveries: 485,002 — Total tested: 18,680,529Map.
  3. Public health: WHCA president says White House violated social-distancing guidelines to make reporters "a prop" — Jailing practices contribute to spread.
  4. States: Cities are retooling public transit to lure riders back.
  5. Jobs: Better-than-expected jobs report boosts stock market.
  6. Media: The Athletic lays off 8% of staff, implements company-wide pay cut.

Scoop: German foreign minister to travel to Israel with warning on annexation

Heiko Maas. Photo: Michael Kappeler/picture alliance via Getty Images

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is expected to travel to Israel next week to warn that there will be consequences if Israeli leaders move forward with plans to annex parts of the West Bank, Israeli officials and European diplomats tell me.

Why it matters: Israeli and European officials agree that if Israel goes ahead with unilateral annexation, the EU will respond with sanctions.

Minneapolis will ban police chokeholds following George Floyd's death

A memorial for George Floyd at the site of his death in Minneapolis. Photo: Steel Brooks/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Minneapolis has agreed to ban the use of police chokeholds and will require nearby officers to act to stop them in the wake of George Floyd's death, AP reports.

Why it matters: The agreement between the city and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, which has launched an investigation into Floyd's death while in police custody, will be enforceable in court.