National Institutes of Health

Ocasio-Cortez grills CEO of pharma company making billions on government-patented HIV drug
Daniel O’Day faced scathing questions over taxpayers funding research and development for blockbuster drug

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., was among the Democrats on the House Oversight Committee grilling Gilead CEO Daniel O’Day on Thursday over the high price of the HIV prevention drug, Truvada. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Gilead CEO Daniel O’Day faced scathing questions at a House hearing Thursday, with Democrats demanding answers on how the drug manufacturer could charge $1,700 a month for an HIV prevention drug discovered through taxpayer-funded research.

“How can Gilead do this? How can our system allow a company to take a drug treatment that was developed with taxpayer funds and abuse its monopoly to charge such astronomical prices?” Oversight and Reform Chairman Elijah E. Cummings asked at the top of the hearing. “This lifesaving treatment would not exist but for the research funded by the CDC and the NIH.”

Lawmakers aim to double down with more opioids legislation
New efforts would double down on existing policies to curb illegal fentanyl use and authorize more funding

Reps. David Trone, D-Md., and Susie Lee, D-Nev., conduct a news conference at the House Triangle on Thursday, January 17, 2019. Trone heads the newly formed Freshmen Working Group on Addiction. He told CQ Roll Call the group will attempt to pass opioid-related bills it supports as individual measures to stem the opioid crisis, but that it’s possible the Senate could take up the bills as a package. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Lawmakers are showing renewed interest in continuing bipartisan work to combat the opioid epidemic, less than a year after the president signed a legislative package into law.

While the law focuses on various aspects of the crisis such as curbing prescription drug abuse, new efforts would double down on policies to curb illegal fentanyl use and authorize additional funding.

Trump administration swayed by conservative think tank on abortion, LGBT decisions, group says
Ties between administration and The Heritage Foundation correlate with several health policy decisions, liberal watchdog group says

HHS Office of Civil Rights Director Roger Severino speaks at a news conference at the Department of Health and Human Services on January 18, 2018 in Washington, DC. Severino, a former director of The Heritage Foundation’s DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society, joined HHS as the director of OCR in late March 2017. Close ties between the administration foundation correlate with several Trump administration health policy decisions, a liberal think tank says. (Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)

Close ties between the administration and a prominent conservative think tank correlate with several Trump administration health policy decisions, according to new information from a liberal government watchdog group shared exclusively with CQ Roll Call.

The 35-page Equity Forward report says that The Heritage Foundation’s influence plays a large role in decisions related to abortion, fetal tissue research, contraception and protections for same-sex couples.

Ebola outbreak response slowed by security fears, distrust
The current outbreak is posing problems that might not be solved by investments alone

A water tank for washing hands stands in front of a municipal center in the West Point slum on Feb. 10, 2016, in Monrovia, Liberia. (John Moore/Getty Images)

Congress in recent years has pumped billions of dollars into health preparedness to handle infectious disease outbreaks like Ebola, but the current outbreak in an unstable part of Africa is posing problems that might not be solved by investments alone.

Top Trump administration health officials on Thursday told the Senate appropriations panel overseeing discretionary health funding that the biggest challenges to controlling the Ebola outbreak underway in the Democratic Republic of Congo are a lack of security and a lack of trust for health care workers and government within the local population.

Teen who defied his mother to get vaccinated will testify before Congress
Before receiving immunizations, Lindenberger hadn’t received vaccination for MMR, chickenpox and Polio

Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., prepares to recieve a small pox vaccination shot from RN Lucienne Nelson, with the National Institutes of Health, at the Department of Health and Human Services, Friday. (CQ Roll Call)

Ethan Lindenberger decided at the age of 18 to vaccinate himself despite his parent’s disapproval. On Tuesday, he will testify in front of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions at a hearing concerning the value of vaccines.

The Ohio resident garnered a great deal of media attention in recent months after he posted on Reddit asking how he could get the vaccines that usually are given during childhood.  Lindenberger’s parents refused to vaccinate him, because his mother believes in a now-debunked conspiracy theory that suggests the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine causes autism in children.

Trump could be his own biggest obstacle on HIV/AIDS plan
Administration’s broader policies are at odds with increasing access to drugs and other steps

President Donald Trump talks with members after his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress in the House chamber on January 30, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump’s plan to eliminate HIV transmission in the United States by 2030, which he announced Tuesday night, would be an ambitious goal that would require his administration to reverse course on a number of policies that potentially hinder access to HIV/AIDS care.

“Together, we will defeat AIDS in America,” Trump said in his State of the Union address. He said that his budget will “ask Democrats and Republicans to make the needed commitment to eliminate the HIV epidemic in the United States within 10 years.”

House, Senate panels begin hearings seeking drug cost solutions
Future hearings will likely focus more on legislative proposals, and at some point members hope that drug companies will share their ideas

From left, Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., and Mark Meadows, R-N.C., talk during a House Oversight and Reform Committee business meeting in Rayburn Building on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Lawmakers emphasized the steep cost of the diabetes treatment insulin and ways to use Medicare and Medicaid to discourage companies from setting high prices as Congress kicked off a series of drug price hearings Tuesday.

Hearings before the Senate Finance and the House Oversight and Reform committees featured academics and patient advocates as lawmakers in both chambers investigate why drug prices are high and what Congress can do about it.

Marching abortion opponents have message for Trump administration: Do more
Advocates push fetal tissue, family planning changes

Attendees at the 2017 March for Life bow their heads in prayer near the Washington Monument during the speaking program. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Thousands of abortion opponents will take to the streets of Washington on Friday for the nation’s largest annual anti-abortion rally, coinciding with a flood of anti-abortion action from government officials that underscore the movement’s priorities for 2019.

The March for Life is held every January to protest the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court case that guaranteed a woman’s right to an abortion nationwide.

Shutdown Effects: Breakdown by Department and Agency
Thousands of federal employees will be working without a paycheck

The Federal Reserve building is seen on Constitution Avenue address on Saturday, the first day of a partial government shutdown. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Thousands of federal employees face the prospect of working without a paycheck as the White House budget office Friday night directed the heads of government departments and agencies to begin implementing shutdown plans.

Funding for nine departments and other agencies lapsed at midnight as President Donald Trump remained in a standoff with Congress, his demand for funding for wall construction along the border with Mexico the sticking point in talks over appropriations and a stopgap funding measure.

HHS At Odds With Its Workers, Including Doctors
Employees plan to picket at HHS headquarters

A labor spat at the Department of Health and Human Services is drawing attention from lawmakers. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Health and Human Services Department is in a dispute with a union representing 14,000 employees, which risks exacerbating staff shortages among doctors and scientists involved in prescription drug reviews, food safety and other public health responses.

The labor spat is drawing attention from lawmakers as some employees plan to picket at HHS headquarters briefly Thursday afternoon.