DEA Declines to Reclassify Marijuana

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has decided to keep marijuana on its schedule of controlled substances in the most restrictive category. The agency will, however, end its restrictions on the growing of marijuana for research purposes. Effective immediately, researchers will be allowed to apply and register with the DEA as growers in the hopes of discovering marijuana derived drugs that are safe and effective for medical use.

Surgeon General Launches New Pain Management Prescribing Website

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy announced the launch of a new website, TurnTheTideRx.org, last week. The site is intended to raise awareness about pain management and proper prescribing practices. The website includes a feature asking health care professionals to take a pledge to educate themselves on how to treat pain safely and effectively, to screen patients for opioid use disorder, to refer to evidenced based treatments, and to recognize addiction as a chronic illness. As of Sunday, 1734 providers had taken the pledge.

Lawmakers Request Information on LRN Capabilities

Leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee have written to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requesting more information on the capabilities of the agency’s Laboratory Response Network (LRN). “The key to a successful response to a potential bioterrorism event relies on our ability to rapidly detect and diagnose suspected clinical cases. This task was clearly assigned to the CDC LRN for implementation and preparation of this aspect of the nation’s biodefense,” the letter states. The committee members ask for more information about how many labs there are in the nation, as well as their readiness to address select agents, toxins, and infectious diseases. The lawmakers request a response to their nine questions by August 25, 2016. The letter was signed by Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) and Subcommittee Ranking Member Diana DeGette (D-Co.).

Study Shows Less ACO Participation in Poorer Communities

New research published in Health Affairs indicates that physician participation in accountable care organizations (ACOs) is lower in places with vulnerable populations than in more affluent communities. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found that participation in ACOs varies widely across hospital referral regions, but that physicians practicing in areas where a higher percentage of the population is black, living in poverty, uninsured, disabled, or less educated had significantly lower rates of participation in ACOs than other physicians. The authors suggest that vulnerable populations’ lack of access to physicians participating in ACOs could exacerbate existing disparities in health care quality.

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