Voters Back More Drugs as Medicine… And Not Just Cannabis

Oregon voters passed a ballot measure Tuesday that would establish a legal psilocybin (“magic mushrooms”) administration program, while South Dakota and Mississippi became the latest states voting to legalize medical cannabis. Voters in several other states also approved initiatives to legalize recreational marijuana, and a measure in the District of Columbia passed that would decriminalize psilocybin and certain other psychedelic agents.

While the broad and immediate impact of these measures on the medical community remains largely unclear, some experts cited them in urging providers to expand their minds more.

Oregon became the first state to legalize psilocybin — or any psychedelic — for its citizens to consume. The state voted 55.8%-44.2%, as of Wednesday afternoon, to craft a program allowing it to be administered in some form of therapeutic setting to adults 21 and older, with details to be ironed out over the next 2 years. There will not be a dispensary system, however, like those in many states for medical cannabis.

Oregon has only decided to create a program, cautioned Matthew Johnson, PhD, associate director for the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. So it is too soon to know how people may get the psilocybin or how precisely medical professionals could be involved.

The program could include therapeutic use and treatment for some disorders, Johnson said. Assuming it unfolds as he expects, including coordination with federal authorities, Johnson predicts medical professionals will be needed during patient sessions to respond to potential emergencies and conduct follow-up care.

“The practice of medicine is something that needs to be regulated,” Johnson said. “The concern is if it’s not done right and could cause public harm. …It needs to be supervised.”

Psilocybin is under investigation, Johnson added, with one trial in phase III and other clinical trials underway, and some observational studies completed. But it is not an FDA-approved medicine.

As it happens, JAMA Psychiatry on Wednesday published a randomized trial, with Johnson among the authors, indicating that synthetic psilocybin was effective in major depression.

If Oregon’s program mirrors the results Johnson has seen in his own and other clinical research, “I think it does have a chance of helping patients, with an acceptable level of risk.”

The American Psychiatric Association and Oregon Medical Association both opposed the Oregon measure.

Johnson expects the state’s decision to lead other states to adopt similar measures. Efforts to decriminalize psychedelics — such as in D.C. — are still more popular then initiatives to legalize and foster use.

With South Dakota and Mississippi now on board, 36 states have now approved or implemented medical cannabis programs. Also this week, South Dakota, New Jersey, Arizona and Montana approved recreational marijuana — making South Dakota the first state ever to simultaneously approve medicinal and recreational cannabis. And a separate measure passed in Oregon that would decriminalize all currently illicit drugs including heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine.)

Experts cautioned healthcare workers in South Dakota and Mississippi to be prepared for patients’ questions about cannabis,

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Oregon could become 1st US state to decriminalize hard drugs

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — In what would be a first in the U.S., possession of small amounts of heroin, cocaine, LSD and other hard drugs could be decriminalized in Oregon under a ballot measure that voters are deciding on in Tuesday’s election.

Measure 110 is one of the most watched initiatives in Oregon because it would drastically change how the state’s justice system treats people caught with amounts for their personal use.

Instead of being arrested, going to trial and facing possible jail time, the users would have the option of paying $100 fines or attending new, free addiction recovery centers.

The centers would be funded by tax revenue from retail marijuana sales in the state that was the country’s first to decriminalize marijuana possession.

It may sound like a radical concept even in one of the most progressive U.S. states — but countries including Portugal, the Netherlands and Switzerland have already decriminalized possession of small amounts of hard drugs, according to the United Nations.

Portugal’s 2000 decriminalization brought no surge in drug use. Drug deaths fell while the number of people treated for drug addiction in the country rose 20% from 2001 to 2008 and then stabilized, Portuguese officials have said.

The U.N. Chief Executives Board for Coordination, chaired by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, is also advocating a different approach.

In a 2019 report, the board announced its commitment to “promote alternatives to conviction and punishment in appropriate cases, including the decriminalization of drug possession for personal use.”

Doing so would also “address prison overcrowding and overincarceration by people accused of drug crimes,” said the board, which is made up of the leaders of all U.N. agencies, funds and other bodies.

Oregon’s measure is backed by the Oregon Nurses Association, the Oregon chapter of the American College of Physicians and the Oregon Academy of Family Physicians.

“Punishing people for drug use and addiction is costly and hasn’t worked. More drug treatment, not punishment, is a better approach,” the groups said in a statement.

Opponents include two dozen district attorneys who urged a no vote, saying the measure “recklessly decriminalizes possession of the most dangerous types of drugs (and) will lead to an increase in acceptability of dangerous drugs.”

Three other district attorneys back the measure, including the top prosecutor in Oregon’s most populous county, which includes Portland, the state’s largest city.

“Misguided drug laws have created deep disparities in the justice system,” said Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt. “Arresting people with addictions is a cruel punishment because it slaps them with a lifelong criminal record that can ruin lives.”

Jimmy Jones, executive director of Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action, a group that helps homeless people, said arresting people who are using but not dealing hard drugs makes life extremely difficult for them.

“Every time that this happens, not only does that individual enter the criminal justice system but it makes it very difficult for us, on the back end, to house any of these folks because a lot of landlords

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Two COVID-19 Outpatient Antibody Drugs Show Encouraging Results

Editor’s note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape’s Coronavirus Resource Center.

Two COVID-19 antibody treatments, one developed by Regeneron and the other by Eli Lilly, show promise in the outpatient setting in results released on Wednesday.

Regeneron, in a randomized, double-blind trial, is assessing the effect of adding its investigational antibody cocktail REGN-COV2 to usual standard of care in comparison with adding placebo to standard of care. A descriptive analysis from the first 275 patients was previously reported. The data described Wednesday, which involve an additional 524 patients, show that the trial met all of the first nine endpoints.

Regeneron announced prospective results from its phase 2/3 trial showing REGN-COV2 significantly reduced viral load and patient medical visits, which included hospitalizations, visits to an emergency department, visits for urgent care, and/or physician office/telemedicine visits.

Interest in the cocktail spiked after President Donald Trump extolled its benefits after it was used in his own COVID-19 treatment earlier this month.

Trump received the highest dose of the drug, 8 g, but, according to a Regeneron news release announcing the latest findings, “results showed no significant difference in virologic or clinical efficacy between the REGN-COV2 high dose (8 grams) and low dose (2.4 grams).”

The company described further results of the industry-funded study in the release: “On the primary endpoint, the average daily change in viral load through day 7 (mean time-weighted average change from baseline) in patients with high viral load (defined as greater than107 copies/mL) was a 0.68 log10 copies/mL greater reduction with REGN-COV2 compared to placebo (combined dose groups; p<0.0001). There was a 1.08 log greater reduction with REGN-COV2 treatment by day 5, which corresponds to REGN-COV2 patients having, on average, a greater than 10-fold reduction in viral load, compared to placebo.”

The treatment appears to be most effective in patients most at risk, whether because of high viral load, ineffective baseline antibody immune response, or preexisting conditions, according to the researchers.

According to the press release, these results have not been peer reviewed but have been submitted to the US Food and Drug Administration, which is reviewing a potential emergency use authorization for the treatment in high-risk adults with mild to moderate COVID-19.

Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s treatment and vaccine program, contracted in July with Regeneron for up to 300,000 doses of its antibody cocktail.

Lilly Treatment Shows Drop in Hospitalizations, Symptoms

Another treatment, also given in the outpatient setting, shows promise as well.

Patients recently diagnosed with mild to moderate COVID-19 who received Eli Lilly’s antibody treatment LY-CoV555 had fewer hospitalizations and symptoms compared with a group that received placebo, an interim analysis of a phase 2 trial indicates.

Peter Chen, MD, with the Department of Medicine, Women’s Guild Lung Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, California, and colleagues found that the most profound effects were in the high-risk groups.

The interim findings of the BLAZE-1 study, which was funded by Eli Lilly, were published online October 28 in The

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While decrying ‘socialized medicine,’ Trump spends billions on COVID drugs

In his second and final debate with Democratic challenger Joe Biden, President Trump once again bemoaned the prospect of “socialized medicine,” a theme he’s sounded repeatedly in trying to scare voters into thinking a government takeover of the U.S. healthcare system is imminent if he isn’t reelected.

Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie sitting in front of a curtain: President Trump repeatedly has railed against "socialized medicine," yet his government has spent more than $20 billion in taxpayer funds seeking a COVID-19 vaccine or treatment. (AFP/Getty Images)

© (AFP/Getty Images)
President Trump repeatedly has railed against “socialized medicine,” yet his government has spent more than $20 billion in taxpayer funds seeking a COVID-19 vaccine or treatment. (AFP/Getty Images)

That’s not something Biden or any other prominent Democrat is calling for, so Trump’s warnings are just another example of his dishonesty and fearmongering.


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And, it turns out, his hypocrisy.

On Wednesday, the Trump administration announced it will spend $375 million in taxpayer funds to purchase 300,000 doses of an experimental coronavirus antibody drug from pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly & Co.

The deal also gives the government an option to spend more than $812 million for an additional 650,000 doses.

“This agreement with Eli Lilly is part of Operation Warp Speed’s efforts to position the federal government to distribute potential therapeutics, allowing faster distribution if trials are successful,” said Alex Azar, Trump’s secretary of health and human services.

“More good news about COVID-19 therapeutics is constantly emerging,” he declared, “and the Trump administration’s commitment to supporting potentially lifesaving therapeutics will help deliver these products to American patients without a day’s delay.”

Just a few things to consider here.

This pledge of $375 million in government funding comes days after Lilly said it was ending a study of the new drug after “trial data” revealed the drug, bamlanivimab, “is unlikely to help hospitalized COVID-19 patients recover from this advanced stage of their disease.”

You read that right. It may not work.

Other studies are pending. Lilly says the drug may be more effective the earlier the virus is treated, rather than by the time a patient is hospitalized.

In any case, Trump is already spending a ton of your money to buy it.

Moreover, Azar, the member of the Trump administration who engineered the $375-million purchase from Lilly, is — wait for it — a former top Lilly exec.

Pandemic, meet swamp.

But the broader issue of a government role in healthcare R&D is an important one. Clearly there’s a need for the government to be active in ensuring the well-being of society.

“The role of the government here is to fix a market failure,” said Scott Barkowski, a healthcare economist at Clemson University.

“Vaccines generally aren’t profitable,” he told me. “That’s part of why there are few companies that produce vaccines for the USA. The government can step in in that situation and help induce more production by helping support fundamental scientific research.”

That’s a valid function for our government or any government.

In fact, the U.S. National Institutes of Health has pumped roughly $900 billion into drug research since the 1930s, according to Gerald Posner, author of “Pharma: Greed, Lies and the Poisoning of America.”

The advocacy group Patients

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Study identifies 3 existing drugs that may help treat COVID-19

A team of researchers has identified three repurposed drugs that may be effective in treating COVID-19.

In a new study, scientists have found three previously-available drugs that may be effective at treating COVID-19 in its early stages.

The research, which appears in the journal ACS Pharmacology & Translational Science, is valuable in helping researchers identify treatment candidates for clinical trials.

SARS-CoV-2 and its associated disease, COVID-19, have had a profoundly negative effect on global economies, culture, people’s everyday lives, and above all, on people’s health.

To date, there have been more than 1,150,000 recorded deaths from the disease. There is also mounting anecdotal evidence of the long-term negative health effects it can have on people who recover from the initial illness.

Due to COVID-19’s lethality, and the fact that the disease is highly contagious, scientists are rushing to develop a vaccine. However, producing vaccines that are also safe and effective takes a considerable amount of time.

According to a report in The Lancet, on average, vaccines take 10 years to develop. Even with experts greatly accelerating research due to the urgency of the global pandemic, the report notes that an initial vaccine may take more than 18 months to be developed, manufactured, and distributed to people around the world.

Consequently, scientists have been researching vaccines and potential treatments that may ultimately reduce the chance of a person dying if they develop the disease.

This typically involves repurposing previously available drugs that may also be effective in treating COVID-19. This is important as, much like developing a working vaccine, finding new drugs that can treat COVID-19 may take a long time.

To date, the only repurposed drug that has shown signs of being effective is remdesivir, originally developed to treat Ebola in 2014.

However, a recent major World Health Organization (WHO) study has found that remdesivir has no significant effect on COVID-19 mortality.

As a consequence, identifying effective drugs that experts can repurpose to treat COVID-19 is particularly pressing.

In this context, scientists behind the present study took a different approach in the search for potentially effective drugs to repurpose.

Typically, when scientists source drugs to repurpose, they use a technique called high throughput screening (HTS). This involves automating the testing of many different medications, allowing for a much more rapid process than using human teams. Researchers then analyze the results with a computer.

However, according to the current study team, there may be issues with HTS’s reliability and accuracy. Drawing on an article in the journal Patterns, they note that there has been little overlap in the potentially effective drugs identified in HTS studies.

Instead, in their study, the scientists used a ligand-based virtual screening (LBVS) protocol to identify drugs that may act similarly to the drug hydroxychloroquine.

Studies show hydroxychloroquine is effective against SARS-CoV-2 in test-tube experiments, even if it is unlikely to be

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Why now is a good time to clean out old drugs from your medicine cabinet

Saturday is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. Here are some tips on how to clean out your medicine cabinet.

Saturday is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.

“The motto that we have is keep them safe, clean them out and take them back,” Marla Zometsky, of the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board, said.

“Most of the prescription drugs that are misused, actually come from family and friends. You could be a drug dealer without even knowing it.”

After smoking pot, the second most common form of drug abuse in America is non-medical use of prescription drugs. Hence, National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.

Items not to bring to drop-off locations include illegal drugs, inhalers and liquids in large quantities. Welcomed items include prescription and non-prescription pills, electronic cigarettes and vaping products and their devices with batteries removed, and drugs for pets.

“Sometimes people will just throw their unused medications in the toilet, and we really don’t want you to do that because it contaminates the water supply,” Zometsky said. “It’s important to dispose of them safely and properly, so it helps everyone. It helps us maintain our safety in terms of drug misuse and abuse, and it helps our environment.”

Permanent lock boxes for old medications are in place regionwide at some police stations, hospitals and drug stores.

You can find lock box locations and participating Drug Take Back Day sites by zip code on the Drug Enforcement Administration website.

“It’s a great opportunity to clean out your medication cabinet, but also to do it in a safe way,” Zometsky said.

If you miss the day or can’t make it to a permanent lock box location, Zometsky’s advice:

  • Do not crush tablets or capsules.
  • Mix medications with items such as kitty litter, a soiled diaper or used coffee grounds.
  • Before putting the mix in the trash, seal it inside something such as a plastic bag.
  • Remove or scratch out all the personal information on the prescription label.

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Conditional discharge for dentist who failed to keep drugs register

A Belfast dentist was “horrified” to discover he had failed to keep a controlled register of a drug he used to treat vulnerable patients, a court heard yesterday.

avid Jordan received a 12-month conditional discharge for breaching the requirement to maintain a chronological sequence of entries for Fentanyl.

Belfast Magistrates’ Court was told the 65-year-old is among a few dentists in Northern Ireland trained to carry out conscious sedation.

But records were not properly kept on up to 340 ampoules of Fentanyl Citrate used in the procedure at his practice on the Holywood Road.

Mr Jordan, of Knockmore Park in Bangor, Co Down, admitted failing to keep a controlled drugs register between January 2016 and March 2019.

His barrister described it as a sad case involving a dentist about to retire after a previously unblemished career.

Under the Misuse of Drugs Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2002 dentists are legally required to keep an accurate, up-to-date and chronological register, with entries including details on the strength and quantities of stock.

Supplies of Fentanyl were obtained from a Boots pharmacy under a private requisition system and held safely at the practice.

But a prosecution lawyer said: “The defendant didn’t keep or maintain a controlled drug register in relation to all of the 340 ampoules.”

He confirmed the case only related to how the Fentanyl was recorded, with no issues over its use.

District Judge George Conner heard it had been an oversight by a dentist who used conscious sedation to avoid subjecting patients with learning difficulties to a full general anaesthetic.

It was stressed that the dentist cooperated fully in the investigation, going through all medical notes and records to match up all Fentanyl in the practice and used to treat patients.

Mr Connor imposed a conditional discharge for 12 months.

Belfast Telegraph

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People make a beeline for fake Covid medicine, drugs controller intervenes- The New Indian Express

Express News Service

KOZHIKODE:  Thanks to an ENT physician’s ‘discovery’ of nasal drops which can ‘resist Covid’ and a prominent vernacular daily reporting it, a medical store in Koyilandy here is making a quick buck.  E Sukumaran, a Koyilandy-based senior ENT surgeon and former deputy director of health department, has claimed that nasal drops — the ‘medication’ has a 25 per cent glucose content — can eliminate the coronavirus from the throat itself. 

He also claimed that his findings had been sent to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), which has forwarded it to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). “ The PMO had informed me that the ICMR had deputed  Tripti Khanna, a scientist, to conduct further studies on it. But I never claimed that my findings were approved by either the PMO or the ICMR,” said Sukumaran.   

The  nasal drop
being sold as
Covid resistant

Though scientists and the medical fraternity have outrightly rejected Sukumaran’s claims, calling them highly unscientific and totally misleading, what happened in Koyilandy was that people thronged a drug store which started selling this glucose-based nasal drop. A 15 ml bottle was priced at `50 in the beginning. Later, the price was slashed to `30 and now it is being sold for `20. This medical store has special licence which allows it to sell drugs manufactured by mixing the components. 

“People queue up in front of the medical store to buy the drug. Though many of them were aware that it doesn’t prevent Covid, they are convinced that it will not cause any side effects either. The drug store is the biggest beneficiary of this fake discovery,” said a health department source. However, the biggest threat posed by this drug is that it will give a false sense of Covid immunity to gullible people and instigate them to breach Covid protocol. This correspondent bought the bottle directly from the said store without prescription. Along with the drug, there was also a piece of advice on how to administer it: “Two droplets in each nostril twice daily.” 

Meanwhile, after coming to know of the ‘miracle discovery’ through TNIE, the state drugs controller has ordered a probe. Sujith Kumar K, Assistant Drugs Controller,    Kozhikode, told TNIE that he had sent two of his officials to investigate the matter. According to him, he will see to it that the nasal drop is not sold without a doctor’s prescription. “We cannot prevent the sale of glucose water if there is a prescription as it is being used for other purposes such as drip. But it cannot be sold as a remedy for Covid,” he said.

K P Aravindan,  pathologist and member of the expert panel on Covid-19,  said no glucose containing water is used as nasal drops for any illness. “Bodies like the IMA should issue an advisory against such fake Covid drugs,” he said.

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Gilead questions WHO study that cast doubts on drug’s COVID-19 benefits

By Deena Beasley and Vishwadha Chander

(Reuters) – Gilead Sciences Inc has questioned the findings of a World Health Organization (WHO) study that concluded its COVID-19 drug remdesivir does not help patients who have been admitted to hospital.

The American company told Reuters the data appeared inconsistent, the findings were premature and that other studies had validated the drug’s benefits.

In a blow to one of the few drugs being used to treat people with COVID-19, the WHO said on Thursday its “Solidarity” trial had concluded that remdesivir appeared to have little or no effect on 28-day mortality or length of hospital stays among patients with the respiratory disease.

The antiviral medication was one of the drugs used to treat U.S. President Donald Trump’s coronavirus infection, and has been shown in previous studies to have cut time to recovery, though the European Union is investigating it for possible kidney injury.

The WHO trial was conducted in 11,266 adult patients in more than 30 countries. The evidence was conclusive, the WHO said.

Gilead said other trials of remdesivir, including with 1,062 patients that compared it with a placebo, showed the treatment cut COVID-19 recovery time.

“The emerging (WHO) data appears inconsistent, with more robust evidence from multiple randomized, controlled studies published in peer-reviewed journals validating the clinical benefit of remdesivir,” Gilead told Reuters.

Gilead said it was “unclear if any conclusive findings can be drawn” given what it called differences in how the trial was conducted from site to site and between the patients who received the medicine.

In April, the top U.S. infectious disease official, Anthony Fauci, predicted remdesivir would become “the standard of care”.

Companies such as Gilead are racing to find a treatment for COVID-19. Some 1.1 million people have died and 39.1 million have been reported infected in the pandemic, and the global economy has been thrown into chaos.

Remdesivir was developed for Ebola, which causes fever, bleeding, vomiting and diarrhoea and spreads among humans through bodily fluids.

It was quickly repurposed and has offered some hope for patients, though the WHO’s findings may shift the focus of the search for a vaccine to new monoclonal antibodies being developed by companies including Regeneron.

The Solidarity trial also evaluated hydroxychloroquine, anti-HIV drug combination lopinavir/ritonavir and interferon, and concluded that they, like remdesivir, did little to help patients survive or leave the hospital more quickly.

The WHO trial’s results are yet to be reviewed and were uploaded on the preprint server medRxiv. (https://bit.ly/3nViYIf)


Gilead say the Solidarity conclusions, lacking scrutiny from other scientists, were premature.

“We are concerned the data from this open-label global trial has not undergone the rigorous review required to allow for constructive scientific discussion, particularly given the limitations of the trial design,” it said.

Remdesivir got emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on May 1, and has been authorized for use in several countries.

During the Solidarity study, trials of hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir were stopped in June after

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Trump Vs. Biden On Health Care, Prescription Drugs, Medicare : NPR

Read President Trump's and Democratic nominee Joe Biden's plans for health care.

Caroline Amenabar/NPR; Wil Taylor/Flickr

Read President Trump's and Democratic nominee Joe Biden's plans for health care.

Caroline Amenabar/NPR; Wil Taylor/Flickr

Key priorities

Joe Biden

  • Create a public option health care plan that expands off the Affordable Care Act.
  • Decrease the price of prescription drugs.
  • Protect abortion access.
  • Invest $775 billion in child and elder care.
  • Read details of Biden’s plans below.

Donald Trump

  • Repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with a new plan, which has not been publicly proposed.
  • Lower the price of prescription drugs and insurance premiums.
  • Read details of Trump’s plans below.

Biden’s plans for health care

Biden’s health care plan centers around reinforcing and expanding the Affordable Care Act — Obamacare — via a public option while also improving access to care.

The public option plan is described as available to all Americans, “whether you’re covered through your employer, buying your insurance on your own, or going without coverage altogether,” adding that the option is “like Medicare” — but is not Medicare.

The public option would be offered with no premiums to Americans who live in states that don’t have access to Medicaid benefits that they would qualify for in other states.

Though not explicitly mentioned in his proposal, Biden has said that undocumented immigrants would be able to buy into the public option plan and receive unsubsidized coverage — an option currently not allowed under the Affordable Care Act.

In terms of lowering costs on the individual health insurance marketplace, his proposal would do away with the “income cap” — which currently stands at 400% of the federal poverty line — that enables eligibility to receive a tax credit to help pay for premiums. The plan also would ensure that no household is putting more than 8.5% of their earnings (instead of the current 9.86%) into health insurance plans.

Biden’s proposal would work to lower prescription drug prices within Medicare, create an independent commission to oversee and regulate the price of new drugs, and get rid of the tax breaks given to pharmaceutical corporations on advertising.

On abortion access, Biden is in favor of restoring funding for Planned Parenthood. He does not support the so-called gag rule or the Hyde Amendment, which bans most federal funding for abortions. Biden backed the Hyde Amendment for a significant portion of his career and only came out against the legislation in July 2019, saying he could “no longer support an amendment that makes that right [to an abortion] dependent on someone’s ZIP code.”

Biden also wants to allocate $775 billion toward a plan for child and elder care. A lot of the funding would go toward cutting Medicaid waitlists for people needing home and community care, and to provide tax breaks to people who care for older family members.

Biden also pledges to invest in further health care employment, training 35,000 workers on how to aid Americans suffering from opioid addictions and adding “tens of thousands” of new jobs caring for veterans.

Biden also calls for the creation of a public health jobs corps, which would employ more than

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