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North Carolina Expands Medicaid After Republicans Abandon Their Opposition

By Sheryl Gay Stolberg, NY Times

Universal healthcare has long been a controversial topic in the United States, however, North Carolina brought their residents closer to it by expanding Medicaid coverage to roughly 600,000 more people. The move has been on Governor Roy Cooper’s mind since he first took office in 2017, however, the Republican-led congress blocked attempts at expansion for most of Cooper’s tenure. The tide turned last year when both chambers of Congress passed their own version of Medicaid expansion. Rural hospitals are excited about the extra revenue, as many of their patients are lower income and uninsured. Small businesses also benefit from the expansion since they will not have to provide health insurance to employees on Medicaid. 

 by Andrew Feld

1st Over-The-Counter Opioid Overdose Treatment Gets FDA Approval

By Berkeley Lovelace Jr.NBC News

Naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan, is a prescription drug that can reverse an opioid overdose in minutes. It is a nasal spray that can be administered at home without a health professional present and can save a life that would be otherwise lost while waiting for an ambulance. On Wednesday, Narcan was approved by the FDA to be sold over the counter. It will likely be available in drug stores, supermarkets, convenience stores, and more by late summer. However, its drug company, Emergent BioSolutions, has not yet said how it will be priced.

Drug overdoses are the number one cause of accidental deaths in America and opioid overdoses account for about 75% of those deaths. Providing Narcan over-the-counter increases its accessibility and will hopefully help to reduce these opioid-related deaths.

— by Gabrielle Stearns

Congress Moves to Make Xylazine a Controlled Substance

By Janelle Chavez, CNN

As drug overdoses remain on the rise, lawmakers have taken the first steps to control one of the most dangerous substances. Xylazine, also called “tranq” is an animal tranquilizer that’s being added to other illicit drugs. One of the effects of xylazine is that it can cause tissue necrosis, even outside of the area where it’s injected into the skin. Ultimately, the dead tissues have to be removed or even amputated before spreading even further across the body. This legislation would make xylazine a Schedule III drug under the controlled substances act, making regulation and punishments more serious. But some people question whether this is truly the right way to reduce harm and ask whether community intervention strategies might be more effective.

— by Annika Urban

The Spread of Drug-Resistant Bacteria in Eye Drops

By Christina Jewett and Andrew Jacobs, NYTimes 

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria have been found in EzriCare Eye Drops, affecting 68 patients last December. Of those, eight have lost their vision, four have lost an eye, and three have died. The same bacteria, but with stronger resistance, has been found spreading from person to person the last few days within a Connecticut based long-term care center, raising flags for those with compromised immune systems within the facility. Dr. David van Duin, an infectious disease specialist at UNC School of Medicine, said, “it’s very hard to get rid of,” due to its ability to cling tenaciously to moist environments, such as sinks, faucets, and bloodstreams. The eyedrops with drug-resistant bacteria were imported from India, where the FDA confirmed they arose from a factory operated by Global Pharma Healthcare. Currently, the FDA and the CDC are working together to remove these products from shelves across the country, as well as testing each over-the-counter eye drop in order to prevent such dire situations from occuring again.

— by Emily Kim

Items contributed by: Andrew Feld, Gabrielle Stearns, Annika Urban, and Emily Kim