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WASHINGTON — In addition to articles already covered by Native News Online, here is a roundup of other news released from Washington, D.C. that impacts Indian Country recently.

HHS and Pfizer Reach Agreement to Increase Patient Access to Paxlovid

Beginning in November, the antiviral therapy used to fight a COVID-19 infection known as Paxlovid, will transition to the commercial market. 

The U.S. Department  of Health and Human Services  (HHS) prioritizes maintaining affordable access to Paxlovid for Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries throughout this process, which has been secured in a new agreement with Pfizer. 

The HHS Press Release on the agreements states that it will provide free access to Paxlovid for those in Medicaid and Medicare and for the uninsured. The agreement also creates a stockpile of the drug for future emergencies and expiration date extensions.

Dept. of Labor Seeking Candidates for the Native American Employment and Training Council 

The Department of Labor (DOL) is seeking nominations from representatives of tribal governments and American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian organizations that have expertise in the areas of workforce development, secondary and post-secondary education, health care, human services, veteran services, business and economic development, and job sectors growth to join the Native American Employment and Training Council (NAETC).

The NAETC provides guidance to the Secretary of Labor on Native American programs under Section 166 of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and advises the Secretary on matters that promote the employment and training needs of Native Americans. 

Urban Indian organizations (UIOs) interested in joining the NAETC are encouraged to submit nominations.

DOJ Wants Tribes to Participate in the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day (Oct. 28)

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Invite Tribes to ij the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on October 28, 2023.

The national effort aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the public about the potential for medication abuse. On October 28, individuals and communities can bring unwanted or expired prescription drugs to local collection sites (locate the closest one to you here). DOJ and DEA have also partnered to create a toolbox of downloadable posters, handouts, and other materials to encourage participation in the event.

Tribes wishing to participate should contact their state DEA liaison (found here) for coordination purposes and collection resources.

SAMHSA Tribal Opioid Response Consultation

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is consulting with tribes on the Tribal Opioid Response (TOR) grant funding methodology. Specifically, SAMHSA is seeking tribal input on alternate funding methodologies for the program. 

The agency has prepared a series of guiding questions to facilitate the consultation, which are reviewable in this Federal Register announcement. The virtual consultation will take place on November 9 at 2:00pm EST. Written comments may also be submitted until 5:00pm EST on November 23 to [email protected].

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