Weekend Update

From Washington, DC

  • Tomorrow afternoon, the House Rules Committee will take up HR 4664, the financial services and general government appropriations bill that includes OPM and FEHB funding. The bill includes the typical FEHB appropriations provisions — the abortion coverage restriction, the contraceptives coverage mandate, and the prohibition against applying full Cost Accounting Standards coverage to experience-rated FEHB plan carriers.
  • The Federal Benefits Open Season begins next Monday, November 13, and ends on Monday, December 11, 2023. OPM has refreshed the Open Season website with 2024 plan information.

From the public health and research front,

  • NPR Shots discusses the impact of chronic drug shortages on hospitals and patients.
  • The Washington Post reports that “the hunt quickens” for vaccines and antibody therapies against opioids. For example,
    • “The federal government recently awarded an additional $14.8 million for research into a monoclonal antibody that would target fentanyl — the nation’s deadliest street drug — by binding to its molecules before they can invade the brain and shut down breathing. Cessation Therapeutics, a North Carolina biotech company, touts its monoclonal antibody as a way both to prevent overdoses and to treat overdoses and opioid addiction.”
  • Fortune Well tells us,
    • “Whether you snag some vitamin C at the first sign of a cold or stock up on probiotics to keep your gut health in check, you’re not alone in turning to dietary supplements—an estimated 75% of Americans use them.
    • “Among the various types, vitamin K is gaining popularity due to its potential benefits for healthy aging. Specifically, it is thought to aid in the prevention of age-related conditions such as osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.”
  • Medscape informs us,
    • “Prescriptions for semaglutide jumped 150% in the past year, with an 80% increase in prescriptions written per provider, new data suggest.
    • “Among more than 350,000 prescribers in the nationwide DrFirst network between December 2022 and June 2023, prescriptions for the weight loss formulation Wegovy rose sixfold while those for Ozempic, the lower-dose version for treating type 2 diabetes, increased by 65%.”
  • and
    • “With nutrient-stimulated hormone therapies for obesity in phase 3 trials and activin-receptor inhibitors in the next upcoming drug class, highly effective treatments for obesity are on the horizon.
    • “We are at a watershed [moment] brought on by the recent introduction of highly effective antiobesity medications,” said Ania M. Jastreboff, MD, PhD, in a lecture at ObesityWeek.
    • “Jastreboff, from Yale University and the Yale Center for Weight Management, New Haven, Connecticut, provided an overview of the many nutrient-stimulated hormone-based antiobesity therapies in late phases of development — including dual and triple therapies with glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor agonists (GLP-1 RAs), glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) agonists, glucagon, and amylin.”
  • and
    • “New research suggests terminating metformin may raise the risk for dementia in older adults with type 2 diabetes, providing more evidence of metformin’s potential neuroprotective effects.”
  • and, last but not least,
    • T3D-959, an oral dual delta/gamma peroxisome proliferator-activated nuclear receptor (PPAR) agonist, has shown promise in a phase 2 randomized, placebo-controlled study of adults with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease (AD).”