Health Highlights: June 18, 2020

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Poll: Many Americans Unimpressed With Trump Administration’s Response to Pandemic

Despite the Trump administration’s attempts to paint a positive picture of its response to the coronavirus pandemic, 57% of Americans rate its performance as only fair or poor, a new survey reveals.

Only 23% of adults rated the federal government’s response as excellent or very good, while 20% rated it as good, according to the Gallup and West Health telephone survey of 1,016 adults ages 18 and older that was conducted from May 11 to 22 and released Thursday, the Associated Press reported.

Blacks and other minority groups were much more likely to give the Trump administration low marks than whites (66% vs. 51%), while 72% of those with a postgraduate degree and 65% of college graduates rated the response as fair or poor, compared with 49% of those with a high school diploma or less.

The survey also found that 88% of Americans want the government to negotiate the prices of coronavirus treatments with the drug industry.

“I think what we observed in terms of the COVID response is a divided and distracted leadership, and what these numbers reflect is that America woke up to that,” Tim Lash, president of the West Health Policy Center, which focuses on lowering health care costs, told the AP.

The number of COVID-19 deaths is projected to reach about 200,000 by Oct. 1, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. That’s a significant upward revision from the organization.

There have been increases in coronavirus cases in several states that dashed into reopening, and there’s concern that huge Black Lives Matter demonstrations may also accelerate the spread of the virus, the AP reported.


Court Rules Against Drug Price Disclosures in TV Ads

The U.S. government doesn’t have the legal authority to force drug companies to disclose prices in their TV ads, a federal appeals court says.

The unanimous decision Tuesday by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit didn’t address the drug industry’s contention that forcing companies to disclose their prices in ads violates their free speech rights, the Associated Press reported.

The panel said the Department of Health and Human Services exceeded its legal authority by requiring drug price disclosure as part of its stewardship of Medicare and Medicaid.

HHS “acted unreasonably” in claiming it had authority to impose “a sweeping disclosure requirement that is largely untethered to the actual administration of the Medicare or Medicaid programs,” Judge Patricia Millett wrote for the court, the AP reported.


U.S. Has 63 Million Now-Useless Doses of Hydroxychloroquine

U.S. officials are trying to determine what to do with 63 million doses of hydroxychloroquine after the Food and Drug Administration revoked authorization of the drug to treat COVID-19 patients.

The government started stockpiling donated supplies of the drug in late March after President Trump touted it as “very encouraging” and “very powerful” and a “game-changer,” despite no proof that it benefited COVID-19 patients.

In revoking its emergency use authorization of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19, the FDA said Monday that there was “no reason to believe” it was effective against the new coronavirus, and that it increased the risk of heart problems and other side effects, CNN reported.

Along with 63 million doses of hydroxychloroquine, the Strategic National Stockpile also has 2 million donated doses of the related drug chloroquine, according to Carol Danko, a Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson.

“HHS is working with the companies that donated the product to determine the available options for the product that remains in the Strategic National Stockpile,” Danko wrote in a statement to CNN.

Hydroxychloroquine is used to treat diseases such as malaria, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus.