Week in Review

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FDA approves over-the-counter opioid overdose treatment, President Biden curbs government uses of unauthorized spyware, and more…

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  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first-ever over-the-counter opioid overdose treatment. Naloxone—the standard medication for opioid overdose—quickly reverses the effects of opioid overdose, and will soon be made available to consumers for purchase over-the-counter. FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf stated that the approval of over-the-counter naloxone will help reduce opioid overdose deaths throughout the country, and encouraged naloxone’s manufacturers to make the product available “as soon as possible and at an affordable price.”
  • President Joseph R. Biden signed an executive order that limits government use of certain commercial spyware tools that pose risks to national security or have been linked to human rights abuses. The order prohibits federal agencies from using commercial spyware controlled by foreign actors that either perform surveillance on the United States or use data obtained from spyware without U.S. government authorization. In addition, the order bans the government use of spyware that has been used by foreign governments that have allegedly violated human rights.
  • The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) proposed new physical inspection standards for properties that HUD insures or subsidizes, noting that the proposed changes are the first revisions in over 20 years. The standards involve a scoring process to determine the quality of the properties and when HUD should exert additional oversight. The proposed changes include a new threshold under which properties fail inspection and a new method to assess health and safety defects based on their severity and location. HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge said the proposal will help the agency “formally align expectations of housing quality and consolidate inspection standards across HUD programs to raise the bar for what conditions exist” in the covered properties.
  • HUD also updated its guidance for property owners participating in the project-based rental assistance program. Under the program, HUD contracts with owners of multi-family housing properties to provide affordable housing to over one million low-income families. Although HUD previously required property owners to submit a study showing that their rents were comparable to local rents in order to renew their contracts with HUD, the updated guidance allows eligible renters to renew their contracts without the study. The guidance also permits HUD to consider the value of internet and broadband services in their property assessments.
  • California Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation that implements state-level oversight and accountability measures for oil companies, bringing transparency to California’s oil and gas industry. The legislation authorizes a commission to set limits on the amount of profits that oil companies can earn and establishes penalties for exceeding such limits. The new legislation reflects the fact that many California legislators, such as Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, seek to increase transparency around the gas pricing system and prevent oil companies from profiting at the expense of Californians.
  • The United States and Canada expanded the 2002 U.S.-Canada Safe Third Country Agreement, which requires asylum seekers who arrive via land ports of entry to pursue asylum in the country in which they first arrive. The countries expanded the agreement to apply to migrants who arrive in between ports of entry, in addition to those who arrive at land ports. Under the expanded agreement, Canada will send migrants who enter the country between official ports back to the United States and vice versa. “Today’s coordinated actions with the Government of Canada will protect the integrity of the asylum process, discourage dangerous crossings between ports of entry, and encourage lawful pathways for migration,” said U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas.
  • FDA also ended a 50-year voluntary program that collected information from cosmetic makers about cosmetic ingredients and the businesses involved in making and distributing the products. FDA explained that a new law that imposes mandatory disclosure requirements has replaced the program. The new law requires certain cosmetics companies to register their facilities and list their products with the agency. FDA stated that it is developing a new system for tracking mandatory reporting under the new law.
  • The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced a new rule that creates a uniform anti-doping and drug testing program for racehorses. The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA), which Congress created to regulate racehorse medications and promote racetrack safety, first proposed the rule. The FTC, which oversees HISA, initially disapproved the rule after a court held that the law that created HISA was unconstitutional. But after Congress amended that legislation to remedy its constitutional weaknesses, the FTC finalized the rule. HISA called the new regulation a “historic moment” for horse racing, because it creates new ways of enforcing anti-doping and increases the public’s trust in the sport.


  • In a recent Center for American Progress report, Bobby Kogan, senior director of federal budget policy, argued that tax cuts under Presidents George W. Bush and Donald Trump, which disproportionately benefited wealthy individuals and big corporations, increased federal debt as a percentage of the economy. Kogan explained that over the last 25 years, these tax cuts have reduced federal revenues and added $10 trillion to the national debt. Kogan noted that the tax cuts have also increased the share of debt as a portion of the economy by 57 percent since 2001. Recent tax cut proposals from Republican lawmakers would further reduce federal revenues, concluded Kogan.
  • In a Brookings Institution report, Brian Fishman, senior fellow at New America, discussed the difficulties inherent in using regulation to counter terrorism and hate on social media. Fishman opposed holding social media companies liable for failing to remove certain types of content from their platforms because doing so would push companies to focus less on a broader range of harmful content. Instead, Fishman proposed that regulators should require platforms to disclose their efforts to curb online abuse as a way to promote transparency and platform safety. Fishman also recommended that regulators place stricter requirements on platforms that have more digital spaces for user-generated content.
  • In an article in the Arizona State Law Journal, Arden Rowell and Kenworthey Bilz of University of Illinois College of Law analyzed how human psychology affects the way pollution is perceived and regulated. Rowell and Bilz noted that there is often geographic and temporal distance between the sources of pollution and the harms that stem from it. According to Rowell and Bilz, this “diffuseness” may lead the general public to write off the harms of pollution as insignificant, which, in turn, reduces demands on regulators to take action to stop the pollution. Rowell and Bilz concluded that further psychological research can help show how the public perceives and tolerates the harms of pollution and how mechanisms for pollution control can be levied more effectively.