Monday Roundup

Photo by Sven Read on Unsplash

From Washington DC,

  • Roll Call reports, “As the calendar turns to a presidential election year with control of both chambers in play, Congress and the White House are facing a full slate of leftovers from 2023, headlined by a stalled emergency supplemental spending request and looming deadlines to keep the government open.”
  • The Wall Street Journal adds,
    • “House Speaker Mike Johnson (R., La.) now has less than two weeks to pass spending legislation needed to avert a partial government shutdown, while contending with many of the same challenges that ultimately took down his predecessor three months ago.
    • “Following a deal with the Democratic-led Senate announced over the weekend, Johnson will try to rally his fellow Republicans this week around a plan for $1.66 trillion in overall discretionary spending for fiscal 2024.   
    • “While Democrats have largely signaled their support for the agreement, hard-line conservatives have blasted the top-line figure, meaning that Johnson almost certainly will have to rely on Democratic votes to pass the measure in the House, where the GOP has a narrow 220-213 majority. Former speaker Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) was able to muscle through a short-term spending bill in September and avert a government shutdown, only for eight Republican rebels to then engineer his ouster.
    • “Johnson noted Sunday that he now has an even smaller majority than when McCarthy was the speaker. “We deal with the numbers that we have,” Johnson said on  CBS. “It will be one of the smallest majorities in the history of the Congress, clearly.”
    • “The speaker backed a short-term deal late last year to avoid a Christmas showdown over spending. New deadlines of Jan. 19 and Feb. 2 are now before him, providing the biggest test of his still-fledgling speakership and his ability to wrangle his unruly GOP conference.”
  • Good luck, Mr. Speaker.
  • The American Hospital Association News tells us,
    • “Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra Jan. 8 appointed as chief competition officer Stacy Sanders, who currently oversees the department’s implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act, long-term care initiatives, policies to promote health care competition and other Medicare work. In this new role, announced by the Biden Administration last month, Sanders will work with the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice to address concentration in healthcare markets through data-sharing, reciprocal training programs, and other policy initiatives.”

From the public health and medical research front,

  • Endpoint News informs us,
    • “The crown jewel from Bayer’s 2020 buyout of women’s health biotech KaNDy Therapeutics has proven its worth in the clinic, meeting all primary and secondary endpoints in a pair of Phase III studies.
    • “Bayer says it plans to file the drug, elinzanetant, for regulatory approvals to treat moderate to severe vasomotor symptoms associated with menopause once results from a third Phase III study are in. Those data are expected within the next few months.
    • “Elinzanetant, formerly known as NT-814, hit all four primary endpoints in the OASIS 1 and 2 studies, showing statistically significant reductions in the frequency and severity of VMS symptoms — also known as hot flashes. The company didn’t report any numbers, but it said the drug also did better than placebo on a slate of secondary endpoints, including frequency of VMS at week 1, improvement of sleep disturbance and menopause-related quality of life.”
  • The Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER) released a Final Evidence Report on Treatment for Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension.
    • ICER’s “Independent appraisal committee voted that sotatercept demonstrated a net health benefit when compared to background therapy; sotatercept would achieve common thresholds for cost-effectiveness if priced between $17,900 to $35,400 per year.
  • The Washington Post and Consumer Reports points out “quick fixes for congestion, sneezing and other sinus woes.”

From the U.S. healthcare business front,

  • The National Institutes of Health announced,
    • “Access to residential addiction treatment centers caring for U.S. adolescents under 18 years old in the United States is limited and costly, according to a new study(link is external) supported by the National Institutes of Health. Researchers found that only about half (54%) of the residential addiction treatment facilities that they contacted had a bed immediately available, and for those that had a waitlist, the average estimated time before a bed opened was 28 days. In addition, the average daily cost per day of treatment was $878, with close to half (48%) of the facilities that provided information requiring partial or full payment upfront. On average, the quoted cost of a month’s stay at a residential addiction treatment facility was over $26,000.
    • “Published in Health Affairs, this study was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), both part of NIH, and led by researchers at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU). The results build on previous research revealing that only one in four residential treatment centers caring for U.S. adolescents under 18 years old provide buprenorphine, a medication to treat opioid use disorder.
    • “The ability to access timely, evidence-based treatment for addiction can be a matter of life or death, and the current system too often fails young people,” said Nora Volkow, M.D., director of NIDA. “We need to make access to timely, affordable, and evidence-based care the norm across treatment settings.”
  • mHealth Intelligence takes a look at this year’s virtual care trends.
    • “The mood of healthcare stakeholders going into 2024 may be more somber than in the recent past, but the work of integrating virtual care into the US healthcare system is ongoing. Here [in the article] are some key trends healthcare leaders, policy experts, and consultants expect to see in the new year.”
  • MedTech Dive notes,
    • “Procedure volumes increased in the fourth quarter, mostly matching or exceeding the usual seasonal trend, according to Truist Securities’ survey of 50 U.S. hospital administrators.
    • “The survey suggests procedure volumes rose 2% to 3% over the third quarter, with interventional cardiology experiencing the biggest increase. The analysts wrote companies including Boston Scientific, Edwards Lifesciences and Medtronic would benefit from rising cardiology volumes.
    • “Truist also saw positive signs for Intuitive Surgical, tracking improvements in the outlook for capital spending and a rebound in weight loss procedures after pressure from obesity drugs.”
  • and
    • “Boston Scientific said Monday it has agreed to acquire Axonics, maker of devices to treat urinary and bowel dysfunction, for $3.7 billion in cash, or $71 per share.
    • “The acquisition allows Boston Scientific to enter the high-growth sacral neuromodulation market, where it will compete with companies such as Medtronic. 
    • “Stifel analyst Rick Wise, in a note to clients Monday, called the deal a highly complementary fit to Boston Scientific’s urology business, which generated about 14% of its estimated 2023 sales.”