Weekend update

Photo by Tomasz Filipek on Unsplash

From Washington, DC,

  • The Medicare open enrollment period began today. It ends on December 7, 2023.

From the public health and research front,

  • Fortune Well informs us
    • The medicine in the diabetes drug Mounjaro [the Godzilla of GLP-1 drugs] helped people with obesity or who are overweight lose at least a quarter of their body weight, or about 60 pounds on average when combined with intensive diet and exercise, a new study shows.
    • By comparison, a group of people who also dieted and exercised but then received dummy shots lost weight initially but then regained some, researchers reported Sunday in the journal Nature Medicine.
    • “This study says that if you lose weight before you start the drug, you can then add a lot more weight loss after,” said Dr. Thomas Wadden, a University of Pennsylvania obesity researcher and psychology professor who led the study.
    • The results, which were also presented Sunday at a medical conference, confirm that the drug made by Eli Lilly & Co. has the potential to be one of the most powerful medical treatments for obesity to date, outside experts said.
  • The FDA has approved Mounjaro as a diabetes treatment but not a weight loss treatment yet.
  • The New York Times tells us,
    • “An Oxford University researcher and her team showed that digital wearable devices can track the progression of Parkinson’s disease in an individual more effectively than human clinical observation can, according to a newly published paper.
    • “By tracking more than 100 metrics picked up by the devices, researchers were able to discern subtle changes in the movements of subjects with Parkinson’s, a neurodegenerative disease that afflicts 10 million people worldwide.
    • “The lead researcher emphasized that the latest findings were not a treatment for Parkinson’s. Rather, they are a means of helping scientists gauge whether novel drugs and other therapies for Parkinson’s are slowing the progression of the disease.”
  • The Washington Post interviews “physician Rosanne Leipzig, vice chair for education at the Brookdale Department of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York.” Dr. Leipzig is the author of “Honest Aging: An Insider’s Guide to the Second Half of Life.” The reporter described the book as “the most comprehensive examination of what to expect in later life I’ve come across in a dozen years covering aging.”
  • The Washington Post also reports,
    • “The United States faces a “bloody transfusion problem” that is fueling preventable deaths and putting national security at risk, three military and civilian physicians write in a JAMA opinion essay.
    • “The JAMA op-ed, published Oct. 12, highlights blood transfusions’ importance in emergency care. Emergency transfusions can decrease deaths, especially when given early, the physicians write. But not enough healthcare facilities and emergency vehicles are equipped for the procedures, they add, which presents a “substantial risk to our nation’s security infrastructure.”
    • “One reason is the national blood supply, which the writers call “tenuous” because of its reliance on volunteers, as well as problems with blood storage and the places where blood is collected and processed.
    • “The physicians cite a 2020 Health and Human Services report that characterized the national blood supply system as “struggling.” That report said blood availability is hindered by issues with donor recruitment, an aging donor population and problems funding collection centers.”

From the U.S. healthcare business front,

  • MedTech Dive points out,
    • “Best Buy plans to start selling continuous glucose monitors in the next few weeks, in the tech retailer’s first foray into prescription-based medical device sales.”Best Buy plans to start selling continuous glucose monitors in the next few weeks, in the tech retailer’s first foray into prescription-based medical device sales.
    • “The company plans to sell the Dexcom G7 CGM at launch and is looking to offer additional CGM systems from other manufacturers, according to the company.
    • “Customers who want to buy a CGM will be routed to the virtual care platform Wheel, where clinicians will determine a patient’s eligibility and write a prescription. Pharmacy tech provider HealthDyne will receive and process prescriptions, and consumers can then purchase the CGMs on Best Buy’s website for home delivery.”
  • BioPharma Dive notes,
    • “Pfizer said on Friday afternoon it plans to cut billions of dollars in spending and lay off staff as it adjusts to lower demand for its COVID-19 drug Paxlovid and vaccine Comirnaty. 
    • “The pharmaceutical company is also significantly revising down its revenue forecast to between $58 billion and $61 billion for the year, a $9 billion cut from its previously issued guidance. 
    • “The bulk of that adjustment is due to the return by the U.S. governmentof nearly 8 million treatment courses of Paxlovid labeled under the drug’s emergency clearance. Distribution of that product will be stopped in November as Pfizer shifts to selling Paxlovid commercially, which it now expects to begin on a wide scale in January. The antiviral treatment won full U.S. approval in May.”