Monday Roundup

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From Washington DC

  • The Wall Street Journal reports
    • “A bid by House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R., Minn.) to serve as the House Republicans’ pick to be speaker will test whether the strong ties he built recruiting candidates and counting votes will overcome doubts from some anti-establishment lawmakers aligned with former President Donald Trump.
    • “Candidates are expected to pitch their colleagues at a forum on Monday evening ahead of an internal vote to designate a new Republican speaker nominee as soon as Tuesday morning. Beyond winning the GOP ballot, the speaker nominee will face the uphill battle to unite almost all Republicans to have a chance of winning the House vote, given Republicans’ narrow 221-212 majority.  * * *
    • “To become House speaker designate, the winning candidate must garner a majority of the votes cast within the Republican conference. The internal House GOP conference voting could go multiple rounds, with the candidate receiving the fewest number of votes dropping out after each round until a candidate wins 50% of the vote plus one. After that, the House speaker-designate must win support from a majority in the House, hitting 217 of the 433 House votes if all members show up and cast a vote for an individual.
    • “In an effort to prevent holdout candidates from delaying the process, GOP Rep. Mike Flood of Nebraska is circulating a unity pledge, which lawmakers can sign saying that they promise to back the party’s speaker designee in a House floor vote. His spokeswoman on Monday morning said that all of the candidates except [Rep. Gary] Palmer [R Alabama] have signed on.”
  • Govexec tells us
    • “Lawmakers from both parties last week revived legislation that would allow most federal employees who began their careers as temporary or seasonal workers to make catch-up contributions to their pensions so that they can retire on time.
    • “The Federal Retirement Fairness Act (H.R. 5995), introduced by Reps. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., Gerry Connolly, D-Va., Don Bacon, R-Neb., and David Valadao, R-Calif., would allow employees enrolled in the Federal Employees Retirement System who began their careers in government as temporary workers to make catch-up contributions to their defined benefit pensions to cover for the time before they had permanent positions and were unable to contribute to their retirement accounts. The legislation was last introduced in 2021 but failed to garner support.”
  • Labor Department Assistant Secretary for Employee Benefits Security Lisa Gomez writes in her blog about Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
  • BioPharma Dive informs us,
    • “The Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved a new meningococcal vaccine, clearing Pfizer’s shot Penbraya in teenagers and young adults for protection against the five most common disease-causing serogroups.
    • “Penbraya is the first vaccine available that can provide such broad protection, which may make it more convenient than current options. While meningococcal disease is rare, it can be serious and even deadly.
  • EMPR adds that the “Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Zituvio (sitagliptin) as an adjunct to diet and exercise to improve glycemic control in adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus.”
  • Per Medtech Dive,
    • Medtronic said Monday it received approval from the Food and Drug Administration for an extravascular defibrillator designed to treat abnormal heart rhythms and prevent sudden cardiac arrest, which can lead to death within minutes if not treated immediately.
    • Unlike traditional implantable cardioverter defibrillators, which have lead wires running between a pulse generator and the heart, Medtronic’s Aurora EV-ICD places a lead outside of the heart and veins.
    • The Aurora EV-ICD was a PMA submission to the FDA, Medtronic spokesperson Tracy McNulty said in an email. “We estimate the current global EV-ICD market to be between $300-$350 million, and expect the EV-ICD market to reach $1 billion 10 years out from the Aurora launch,” McNulty said.

From the public health / research front,

  • MedPage Today points out,
    • “Children infected with the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 appear to be infectious for about 3 days after a positive test, researchers found.
    • “In a small study of 76 kids ages 7 to 18, the median duration of infectivity was 3 days for both vaccinated and unvaccinated children, Neeraj Sood, PhD, of the University of Southern California, and colleagues reported online in a JAMA Pediatrics research letter.
    • “The vast majority of children who get COVID are symptomatic for 1 to 3 days,” co-author Eran Bendavid, MD, MS, of Stanford University, told MedPage Today. “Basically that correlates with how long the virus is causing disease in their body.”
  • and
    • “Maternal mRNA COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy was associated with lower risks of poor neonatal outcomes, including neonatal death, according to a population-based retrospective cohort study from Canada.”
  • Health Day notes,
    • “Gun homicide rates went down in 2022, following increases reported during the pandemic.
    • “But race still played an outsized role, with Black people continuing to have the highest firearm homicide rates, and by a wide margin.
    • “American Indian/Alaska Natives were the only groups to see an increase again in 2022.
  • The Wall Street Journal reports
    • “The age women start taking menopausal hormone therapy and the kind they take might affect their chances of developing dementia later in life, a new study found.
    • “Women have struggled for years with whether to take hormone therapy when they go through menopause. The medication can help relieve troubling symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats. However, years of conflicting research on whether the therapy can lead to other health problems, including breast cancer, dementia and heart attacks, has left many women confused about what to do.
    • “This new study suggests that hormone therapy might lower—or at least not raise—your dementia risk if you take it in midlife. For older women, the study found some signs that the medication might raise it.
  • mHealth Intelligence explains that “The shift to telebehavioral healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic is linked to fewer disruptions in psychotherapy services, indicating telehealth can be effective in supporting the continuity of these services, a new study shows.”

From the U.S. healthcare business front,

  • Per Healthcare Dive,
    • “Physicians’ decisions to leave their practices is a complex choice “with multiple interdependent factors,” and is not solely impacted by burnout, pay or frustrations with electronic health records, according to a new qualitative study published in ​​the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine.
    • “The study, which interviewed physicians who left their ambulatory care practices between 2018 and 2021, found that they were motivated to increase time off, have more flexibility or receive higher earnings. However, other departing physicians reported higher compensation would not have persuaded them to stay.
    • “Physician practices can better retain clinicians by addressing risk factors for departure including workflow distribution across team members and ensuring adequate staffing, the report said.”
  • The Wall Street Journal reports,
    • Roche Holding has agreed to buy the developer of a bowel-disease treatment from Roivant Sciences, a company started by Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, and Pfizer in a deal worth more than $7 billion.
    • “The Swiss pharmaceutical giant said Monday it would pay $7.1 billion upfront for Telavant Holdings and make a near-term milestone payment of $150 million. Roche said the deal gives it rights to commercialize Telavant’s RVT-3101 drug candidate, which has shown promise for inflammatory bowel disease and could have potential in other indications in the U.S. and Japan. 
    • “The deal is the latest example of a big pharma company turning to the deal table to bolster its pipeline of autoimmune drugs. Merck earlier this year agreed to pay more than $10 billion to buy Prometheus Biosciences, which is developing a drug for inflammatory bowel disease that would compete with Telavant’s candidate.”
  • Per Fierce Healthcare
    • “Folx Health, a virtual provider focused on LGBTQ+ health, is now in-network with Cigna, Evernorth and Blue Shield of California.
    • “Other payer partners include Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas and Optum for behavioral health service in Colorado and Florida, according to Folx Health’s website. Through the collaboration, insured patients can use therapy and mental health medication management with Folx’s LGBTQ-specialized clinicians. 
    • “Folx offers virtual primary care, gender-affirming care and mental health services. Making that care in-network will deliver its patients significantly lower out-of-pocket costs, per the company.”
  • Assured Partners offers HSA and FSA Account Reminders for Year-End.