California s kids likely to become healthier; and a new LDL drug moves forward

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Follow-up on two of our recent, important Dispatch items. California s Assembly has cleared the next-to-last legislative hurdle toward removing the state s non-medical exemptions for children s vaccinations. And an FDA panel has approved overwhelmingly a new type of cholesterol-lowering medication.

i_love_vaccines_t_shirts-rcc3bcf37b21247b9845621ed86a9e63d_804gy_1024A little over a month ago, we discussed the slow progress of a measure proposed in the California legislature to remove so-called philosophical exemptions as a legitimate rationale for allowing parents to avoid getting their kids vaccinated prior to attending school or daycare. Yesterday, news that the CA Assembly s Health Committee had passed this measure filled us with joy, given the recent epidemic of measles in that state, and other contagions in other locales over the past few years involving whooping cough and chickenpox. Next step: the full Assembly has to vote on the bill (officially SB277). Since it s passed the Senate already, if the Assembly approves it, the bill goes to Gov. Brown s desk, where he is expected to sign it although that is not certain at this time. (On a related matter, the very dangerous infection diphtheria has reemerged from a 40 year hiatus in Barcelona, Spain, thanks to anti-vaccine campaigners there, spreading false fears and promoting disease outbreaks).

Also recently, we discussed a new class of LDL-cholesterol reducers: PCSK9-inhibitors, highly potent injectables that seem to outdo the standard of cholesterol-lowering drugs, statins. This morning s news included the information that an FDA advisory panel had voted 13-3 to recommend approval of Sanofi and Regeneron s Praluent (alirocumab) for patients whose high LDL levels were not responding well to statins, or for those who could not tolerate statins. Another such drug, Repatha (evolocumab) from Amgen will go before the panel on Wednesday. While having an advisory panel OK does not mean the FDA will approve the drug, it makes such approval much more likely.