Overnight Health Care: CDC warns against using e-cigs after vaping-related deaths | Minnesota reports fourth nationwide death tied to vaping | Top Dem demands FDA chief take action | Marianne Williamson under fire over controversial health remarks

Welcome to Friday’s Overnight Health Care.

Today’s newsletter is dominated by new concerns over vaping. Let’s get into it. 


CDC warns against using e-cigarettes after more vaping-related death

The warnings about vaping-related illnesses are ramping up. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday discouraged people from using e-cigarettes as it investigates 450 possible cases of lung disease linked to vaping, more than double the number of cases from last week.

Indiana reported its first vaping-related death Friday, following similar fatalities in Illinois and Oregon.

“While the investigation is ongoing, the CDC has advised that individuals consider not using e-cigarettes because as of now, this is the primary means of preventing lung disease,” said Dr. Dana Meaney-Delman, an incident manager with the CDC.

Uncertainty on the cause: Officials said it’s unclear what is causing the illnesses, but many cases appear to involve vape products containing THC, a compound found in marijuana. Some patients also reported using nicotine vapes. Since no product, device or substance has been linked to all cases, the CDC is urging people to be cautious.

Disagreements: New York state health officials on Thursday reported that nearly all of the vape products that it has tested containing THC also contained vitamin E acetate, an oil-like substance that can be harmful if inhaled. But federal officials on Friday cautioned that vitamin E is “one piece of the puzzle.”

“No one substance or compound, including vitamin E, has been identified in all samples tested,” said Mitch Zeller, deputy director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products.

Read more here


And later in the day, Minnesota reported a fourth nationwide death tied to vaping

Minnesota health officials on Friday confirmed the first vaping-related death in the state, bringing the total number of such deaths nationwide to four. 

Minnesota State Epidemiologist Dr. Ruth Lynfield said the patient, who was over 65 years old and died in August, was hospitalized with a severe lung injury that was associated with vaping products containing illicit THC, a compound found in marijuana.

“Our sympathies go out to the family of the person who died,” Gov. Tim WalzTimothy (Tim) James WalzThree people shot, one hit by car at Minnesota State Fair Gun debate back in focus for states after mass shootings Minnesota program will pay homeowners to transform lawns into bee gardens as species inches closer to extinction MORE (D) said in a statement. “This tragedy and the serious injuries suffered by others show the stakes of this outbreak. Health officials are working hard to determine a cause and share information to prevent additional injuries.”

“One death from this outbreak is one death too many,” added Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm. 


More on that here.


Durbin tells FDA chief to take immediate action on vaping epidemic, or resign 

A top Democratic senator on Friday called on the head of the Food and Drug Administration to take immediate steps to regulate e-cigarettes and stop the youth vaping epidemic or resign.

Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinBipartisan senators urge Trump administration to release Ukraine aid Trump moving forward to divert .6B from military projects for border wall Senate Democrats push Trump to permanently shutter migrant detention facility MORE (D-Ill.) sent a sharp warning to Acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless, telling him to take “decisive” action in the next 10 days to properly regulate e-cigarettes, or step down as head of the agency.

“As Acting Commissioner of the FDA, you alone have the power to stop this vaping epidemic, which has now reached the point where children and young adults are getting sick and dying,” Durbin wrote. 

“It is my strong belief that, if you do not take decisive action within the next ten days, you should resign your post.”

Durbin called for the agency to immediately ban all e-cigarette flavors other than tobacco, as well as to immediately ban all e-cigarette devices that have not been approved for sale by the FDA and ensure their immediate removal from stores nationwide.

He also called for Sharpless and the head of the agency’s tobacco division to brief senators next week on the steps FDA is taking to address and reduce vaping-related illnesses and deaths.

Read more here


And on the campaign trail… Marianne WilliamsonMarianne WilliamsonThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Trump digs in on Hurricane Dorian projection The Hill’s Morning Report — Trump’s hurricane forecast controversy won’t go away Marianne Williamson under fire over controversial health remarks MORE is under fire over controversial health remarks

Marianne Williamson’s unconventional candidacy is drawing some concern from disability advocates. 

Experts are worried that her controversial health comments, including expressing concerns about mandatory vaccinations and appearing to link the use of anti-depressants to the suicides of some celebrities, will gain acceptance amid the attention being devoted to the 2020 race.

Rebecca Cokley, director of the Center for American Progress’s Disability Justice Initiative, called out Williamson for her “repeated use of inaccurate information,” citing her vaccination comments and “her ongoing dismissals of the reality of mental illness and chronic health conditions.”

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“While she may have some reasonable and common-sense ideas on key issues, there is a limit to how much ableist rhetoric that the American public can take. And her legacy will be setting that limit,” Cokley told The Hill about Williamson.

Read more on the controversy here. 


Also at The Hill

Google Maps is attempting to fix a glitch in its system that directs people searching for abortion clinics to pro-life organizations.

The oldest woman believed to have given birth has delivered twins.

Senators are set to start work on their fiscal 2020 government funding bills with only weeks to go until the deadline to avoid a government shutdown.


What we’re reading

Major opioid maker is close to settling case to avert first federal trial (The New York Times) 

Trudeau’s drug-price overhaul is set to cost drugmakers billions (Bloomberg)

Congress is poised to stop surprise medical billing. Now a shady interest group is trying to tank it. (Daily Beast)


State by state

Big money begins flowing to campaign to expand Medicaid in Missouri (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Proposed resolution seeks to put Medicaid expansion back onto 2020 ballot in South Dakota (KPVI) 

How political maneuvering derailed a red state’s path to Medicaid expansion (Kaiser Health News)

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