Tuesday’s Tidbits

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

From the Omicron and siblings front, Fortune Well explores earlier pandemics for similarities to our current one.

As U.S. COVID czar Dr. Anthony Fauci and colleagues pointed out in a 2009 New England Journal of Medicine article, “It is not generally appreciated that descendants of the H1N1 influenza A virus that caused the catastrophic and historic pandemic of 1918–1919 have persisted in humans for more than 90 [now 100] years and have continued to contribute their genes to new viruses, causing new pandemics,” including the 2009 H1N1 “swine flu.”

“We are living in a pandemic era that began around 1918,” they wrote 13 years ago—long before the advent of COVID-19.

Harald Brüssow, editor of Microbial Biotechnology, agrees with Fauci and his colleagues that “viruses do not simply disappear.”

“They change and hopefully they adapt and behave,” Brüssow said. “But there are still some escapes, and we might see a return with higher virulence. Vigilance is indicated.”

From the healthcare business front —

The Wall Street Journal reports

Pfizer Inc. expects demand for its Covid-19 antiviral drug to increase as governments return to replenish their supplies and seek to thwart surges as the pandemic virus continues to evolve.

The treatment, a pill called Paxlovid, brought in $1.5 billion in sales during Pfizer’s first quarter, while its vaccine totaled $13.2 billion, reflecting the need for tools to combat the virus despite a slowdown in cases and a growing sense of life trying to return to normal.

The company said Tuesday it is on track to deliver between $98 billion and $102 billion in revenue for the year, with $32 billion coming from its Covid-19 vaccine Comirnaty and $22 billion from Paxlovid. 

“We remain bullish on Paxlovid” said Chief Financial Officer Frank D’Amelio on a call discussing earnings with analysts. “The rhythm of that product looks very good.”

STAT New informs us

Biogen is replacing CEO Michel Vounatsos, the company said Tuesday, ending a five-year tenure in which he presided over the disastrous approval and rollout of its Alzheimer’s treatment, Aduhelm.

The company also said it is “substantially eliminating” all spending on Aduhelm just 10 months after securing U.S. approval — a concession from the struggling biotech that the drug had become a financial liability following a Medicare decision to restrict patient access and payment.

From the Affordable Care Act front, Health Affairs Forefront features the third and final part of Katie Keith’s series on the final 2023 notice of benefit and payment parameters. The third part discusses changes to the ACA marketplace’s risk adjustment program.

From the No Surprises Act, the FEHBlog had understood that the NSA regulators planned to release a final rule on the NSA’s arbitration process, replacing the interim final rule, this month. However, a Justice Department filing with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit submitted late last week states, “the Departments expect to issue a final rule early this summer that will supersede the portions of the interim final rule that Plaintiffs [in the Texas Medical Association case] challenged.” No wonder then that the final rule has not been presented yet to OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs for its required review before publication in the Federal Register.

From the tidbits department —

  • Here is a link to the new CMS Strategic Plan.
  • Federal News Network tells us,

Agencies’ hiring efforts for the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (IIJA) are “foot to the pedal,” OPM Director Kiran Ahuja said in an exclusive interview with Federal News Network.

The surge includes filling 3,000 of those new positions over the first six months after President Joe Biden signed the bill into law.

Ahuja has frequently spoken about her goals to attract more early-career workers to federal service. The BIL gives OPM another chance to do just that.

  • FedSmith identifies four personal budget factors Federal retirees must anticipate. One of those factors is our beloved FEHBP.
  • The CDC offers ten tips for coping with diabetes distress.

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