The U.S. government will soon spend $25 million to help patients access experimental drugs for the incurable illness known as Lou Gehrig's disease. The new strategy blurs the line between research and treatment. And it breaks decades of precedent in which responsibility for funding so-called compassionate use fell to drugmakers. But after years of being rebuffed by drugmakers, ALS patients lobbied Congress to help fund access to not-yet-approved drugs. While it offers a critical new treatment option for ALS patients, it also raises the possibility that federal dollars could be tapped for unproven treatments of other diseases in the future.
U.S. regulators have revealed their plan to allow foreign baby formula manufactures to stay on the market long term. The Friday announcement from the Food and Drug Administration aims to diversify the nation’s highly concentrated formula industry and prevent future shortages. The U.S. has been forced to turn to foreign suppliers to boost formula supplies after FDA inspectors temporarily shuttered the nation’s largest domestic manufacturing plant in February. Since then the U.S. has imported the equivalent of 300 million bottles of formula. Under the new plan, foreign manufacturers will have until 2025 to comply with U.S. standards for formula nutrition, labeling and manufacturing.
The Environmental Protection Agency says it will nearly double — to almost $1 billion — the money available for states to acquire electric school buses. It's responding to a flood of requests for money for cleaner models of the familiar yellow buses that about 25 million children ride each school day. The EPA made $500 million available for clean school buses in May, but said Thursday that “overwhelming demand from school districts across the country, including in low-income communities,″ caused it to increase the amount to $965 million. The money is from the agency’s Clean School Bus Program, which includes $5 billion from the bipartisan infrastructure law. School districts from all 50 states have applied under the program.
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said that stablecoins will need greater regulation as they become more widely used by consumers. Powell delivered his virtual remarks Tuesday to a conference on digital finance in Paris. Powell said the Fed hasn’t yet decided on whether to proceed with a digital dollar. The Fed’s sharp interest rate increases this year, Powell said, have contributed to the collapse of some stablecoins and big drops in the value of cryptocurrencies. Stablecoins are digital tokens pegged to the value of traditional financial instruments, often the dollar.
The new chief at the Food and Drug Administration's tobacco center has inherited a raft of problems. Brian King joined the division tasked with regulating cigarettes, vaping products and other forms of nicotine in July. The agency is struggling to review a backlog of electronic cigarettes, which have contributed to a rise in underage vaping. It is also working to implement a long-delayed plan to ban menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars. King wants to exploit the potential for e-cigarettes to serve as as a less harmful alternative to smoking while at the same time prevent teen use.
The White House and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists say a Republican-led proposal to ban abortion nationwide after 15 weeks would endanger the health of women and have severe consequences for physicians. The measure introduced last week by Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina proposes a nationwide ban that would allow rare exceptions. The legislation has almost no chance of becoming law in the Democratic-controlled Congress. GOP leaders didn't immediately embrace it and Democrats are pointing to the proposal as an alarming signal of where Republicans would try to go if they were to win control of the Congress in November.
The CEOs of the nation’s biggest banks appeared in front of Congress Wednesday and gave a dim view of the U.S. economy, reflecting the financial and economic distress many Americans are facing. JPMorgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon, Citigroup’s Jane Fraser and other chief executives said the U.S. consumer is currently in good shape but faces threats from high inflation and rising interest rates. The hearing happened on the same day the Federal Reserve announced a 3/4-point hike to its benchmark interest rate as it tries to contain inflation. While billed as a hearing on everyday finances, the CEOs also faced difficult political questions with Washington in the midst of an election year.
U.S. health regulators say their response to the ongoing infant formula shortage was slowed by delays in processing a whistleblower complaint and test samples from the nation’s largest formula factory. The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday published its first formal report detailing the factors that led to the shortage, which has forced the U.S. government to import formula from overseas. The report highlights several key problems at the regulatory agency. Those include unclear procedures for vetting whistleblower complaints about company violations. The agency also says it needs more funding and authority to regulate food manufacturers.
Sen. Joe Manchin on Tuesday railed against what he called “revenge politics″ being used against him, as liberals in the House and Senate team up with Republicans to oppose his plan to speed permits for natural gas pipelines and other energy projects. Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, secured a commitment from President Joe Biden and Democratic leaders to include the permitting package in a stopgap government-funding bill in return for his support of a landmark law to curb climate change. But in recent weeks Democrats and environmental groups have lined up to oppose the permitting plan, calling it bad for the country and the climate.
House Democrats are proposing new legislation that would increase federal student aid, lower interest rates on loans and take other steps to make college more affordable. The bill is meant to build on President Joe Biden's student debt cancellation and prevent heavy debt for future generations of students. It would double the amount of the federal Pell Grant, lower interest rates on student loans and loosen rules for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. The election-season bill has dim odds of passage in the House and virtually no hope in the Senate. Still, it spells out Democratic priorities as both parties vow to address the nation’s ballooning student debt. Republicans proposed their own legislation in August, looking to rein in student loan borrowing.
Twitter’s former security chief told Congress Tuesday there was “at least one agent” from China’s intelligence service on Twitter’s payroll — and that the company knowingly allowed India to add agents to the company roster as well. These were some of the troubling revelations from Peiter “Mudge” Zatko, a respected cybersecurity expert and Twitter whistleblower who appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee to lay out his allegations against the company. Zatko, who was fired earlier this year, said Twitter's leadership is "misleading the public, lawmakers, regulators and even its own board of directors."
Peiter “Mudge" Zatko, the Twitter whistleblower who is warning of security flaws, privacy threats and lax controls at the social platform, will take his case to Congress on Tuesday. Senators who will hear Zatko's testimony are alarmed by his allegations at a time of heightened concern over the safety of powerful tech platforms. Zatko, a respected cybersecurity expert, was Twitter’s head of security until he was fired in January. He has brought the allegations to Congress and federal regulators, asserting that the influential social platform misled regulators about its cyber defenses and efforts to control millions of fake accounts.
A federal report says nursing homes and debt collectors are flouting a law that prohibits them from requiring friends and family of care home residents to be responsible for costs of the facilities. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says friends and family members have had to declare bankruptcy, had their wages garnished and their homes repossessed. That's after they signed unenforceable contracts called “admission agreements” with nursing facilities, resulting in them being held liable as third parties for their loved ones’ nursing home stays. Distraught relatives and lawyers for families told federal regulators Thursday about collectors seeking tens of thousands of dollars — even hundreds of thousands — in unpaid nursing home fees.
The Environmental Protection Agency has denied a request by Cheniere Energy, a leading U.S. producer of liquefied natural gas, to exempt two Gulf Coast plants from a federal air pollution rule. An EPA spokesman says the agency on Tuesday denied Cheniere’s request to waive a rule that limits emissions of cancer-causing formaldehyde released by gas-fired turbines. Dozens of turbine operators faced a Monday deadline to comply with the formaldehyde rule, which is being reinstated after an 18-year stay. Cheniere had warned that new requirements on LNG plants in Texas and Louisiana could disrupt gas supplies to Europe, which has struggled with surging energy prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.