Trending News Today: Tax Credits for Organ Donation Under Scrutiny

Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.

Sen Gerald Cardinale (R-NJ) has proposed an organ donation bill that would offer tax credits to organ donors, but the approach is being met with opposition from groups who believe the practice runs afoul of federal law, according to The New York Times. The proposal would provide residents with $1000 in income tax credits for organ donations, or a $100 tax credit for donating blood, platelets, or plasma, because it does not specifically apply to a donor’s expenses. However, donor groups in support of a cost-neutral approach have raised concerns with the proposal. “It falls into the category of well-intentioned legislatures looking to do something to increase the number of donors,” David Fleming, president of Donate Life America, told the NY Times. Fleming said he worries tax breaks could become a bargaining chip to entice families of dead donors, drive donors from neighboring states that do not offer financial incentives, prey on the poor, or create a black market. According to Sen Cardinale, the idea for the organ donation bill came after a friend died waiting for a kidney while another friend of his lived after receiving a transplant.

New data suggests that a novel electrical device may extend survival in patients with lethal brain cancer, The Washington Post reported. The wearable medical device delivers electrical fields through the scalp. In a study that included major medical centers in the United States and abroad, the novel treatment was used to administer alternating, low-intensity “tumor-treating fields” to 695 newly diagnosed glioblastoma patients who were also receiving chemotherapy. The results of the study showed that the median survival for patients randomized to use the device while receiving temozolomide was 21 months compared with 16 months for patients assigned to receive chemotherapy without the device. Although the new data has yet to be peer-reviewed, lead investigator Roger Stupp believes the findings “firmly establish the survival benefit.” Critics and some supporters have said that Stupp should have designed the trial to include 1 group of patients who received a placebo in the form of a device without an electrical current to ensure that the reported benefit was valid. Stupp said that such a sham device would have been impractical, since patients would have known the difference because of the warming sensation on the scalp that the real treatment causes.

The recall of Mylan’s EpiPen has expanded to the United States because the anti-allergy medication may not work. The notice that was issued Friday by Mylan expands upon warnings made earlier this month after 2 reports of the device failing, according to the Post. The FDA said that the recall covers 13 lots distributed between December 2015 through July 2016. Mylan has described the incidence of defects as extremely rare.