Promising HIV Vaccine Clinical Trial Ends in Disappointment
Research + Findings
On Monday, the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) announced the discontinuation of an HIV vaccine clinical trial because an Independent Data and Safety Monitoring Board panel of experts found the vaccine ineffective at preventing the HIV contagion.
The NIAID-sponsored trials took place in South Africa, home of the most severe HIV epidemic in the world where 20% of the population – approximately 7.1 million people – are HIV infected. The Geneva-based Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise of the International Aids Society expressed its “deep disappointment” over the disbanded study. However, research on other approaches to an HIV vaccine continues, according to NIAID Director Anthony Fauci, as reported by CNN.
Good News for J&J: Retrial Denied to Woman Who Alleged Cancer From Baby Powder
Last week, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge denied a retrial to plaintiff Carolyn Weirick, who alleged in an October trial that her pleural mesothelioma was caused by exposure to asbestos in Johnson & Johnson (J&J) baby powder. On Oct. 9, the jury in Weirick’s trial had cleared J&J of those allegations. Just nine days later, on Oct. 18, however, J&J voluntarily recalled 33,000 bottles of its baby powder after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found sub-trace levels of asbestos in a single bottle purchased online. The judge, however, ruled that the FDA baby powder asbestos finding didn’t outweigh the evidence originally presented in court.
Pleural mesothelioma is an aggressive and deadly cancer of the pleural mesothelium, the thin tissues surrounding the lungs. Approximately 80% of pleural mesothelioma cases are caused by asbestos exposure.
Bad News for J&J: $344 Million Penalty for Misrepresenting Mesh Risks
Last week, a California judge sided with the state of California in a lawsuit alleging that transvaginal mesh manufacturer Ethicon, a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary, had violated state laws by engaging in unfair competition and misleading advertising. Initiated in 2016 by then-California Attorney General Kamala Harris, the lawsuit claimed that the company promoted the use of mesh in female pelvic procedures while concealing or misrepresenting associated risks such as chronic pain and sexual dysfunction, the Wall Street Journal reported.
J&J said it would appeal the decision, a process that could take one to three years.
In October, J&J agreed to a $117 million settlement with 41 states and the District of Columbia in a similar lawsuit alleging misleading marketing of Ethicon’s transvaginal mesh. As of September, the company faced lawsuits from nearly 20,000 plaintiffs alleging injuries from its pelvic mesh.
Trump Administration Offers States Medicaid Quid Pro Quo
On Thursday, the Trump administration announced a complex block grant proposal offering states the option of greater control over their Medicaid spending on able-bodied adults under 65 in exchange for limits on federal funding, upending longstanding federal-state Medicaid financing agreements. Medicaid is a public health insurance program for individuals with limited income and assets with coverage and programs varying by state.
The “Healthy Adult Opportunity” proposal excludes nursing home residents, disabled and pregnant people, and children, but has not been entirely well-received. As reported by U.S. News & World Report, the American Medical Association warned against limits on Medicaid funding, some Democratic legislators challenged Trump’s legal authority to make the offer, and a public advocacy law firm is considering legal action.