Weekend Update

From Washington DC

  • The House of Representatives and the Senate continue to meet on Capitol Hill this week for Committee meetings and floor business. For your information, here’s an interesting meeting:
    • House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health
    • Wednesday January 31, 2024 10:00 AM (EST) | 2123 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C.
    • Hearing: Health Care Spending in the United States: Unsustainable for Patients, Employers, and Taxpayers
    • Meeting Details
  • Fortune Well discusses the Medicare income adjusted premiums known as IRMAA. In the FEHBlog’s view, the best course is to pay the IRMAA premium because the Medicare Part B is worth the temporary surcharge.

From the public health and medical research front,

  • Medscape discusses research on a urine test that can diagnose lung cancer.
    • “Lung cancer is the deadliest cancer in the world, largely because so many patients are diagnosed late.
    • “Screening more patients could help, yet screening rates remain critically low. In the United States, only about 6% of eligible people get screened , according to the American Lung Association. Contrast that with screening rates for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer, which all top 70%.
    • “But what if lung cancer detection was as simple as taking a puff on an inhaler and following up with a urine test?
    • “Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, Massachusetts, have developed nanosensors that target lung cancer proteins and can be delivered via inhaler or nebulizer, according to research published this month in Science Advances. If the sensors spot these proteins, they produce a signal in the urine that can be detected with a paper test strip.
    • “It’s a more complex version of a pregnancy test, but it’s very simple to use,” said Qian Zhong, PhD, an MIT researcher and co-lead author of the study.”
  • The American Medical Association reports
    • ‘While the 2018 physical activity guidelines recommend that adults engage in at least 150 to 300 minutes per week of moderate exercise, 75 to 150 minutes each week of vigorous movement or an equivalent combination of both intensities, it turns out that if adults do more than the recommended amount, it can lower their risk of death. Moderate physical activity is defined as walking, weightlifting and lower-intensity exercise. Meanwhile, vigorous exercise is categorized as running, bicycling and swimming.’ 
  • The American Medical Association points out what doctors wish their patient knew about which cold medicines work.

From the U.S. healthcare business front,

  • Fierce Healthcare reports,
    • Cognoa, maker of the first FDA-approved autism diagnostic tool, announced Highmark has signed on as its first commercial payer partner. 
    • “The tool, Canvas Dx, will now be reimbursed for commercial Highmark members. It aims to enable earlier and more equitable access to diagnosis for children and families without specialists. The tool leverages AI to empower doctors to quickly and accurately diagnose developmental risk without bias, the company claims.
    • “The contract should be seen as “model medical policy,” Dennis Wall, Ph.D., autism researcher and founder of Cognoa, told Fierce Healthcare. Wall hopes the coverage will be replicated across other payers. Highmark will cover the full price, including the total cost of CanvasDx and the time it takes for a provider to administer it.” 
  • STAT News tells us,
    • “At least, as of yesterday [January 25], in terms of market value. Eli Lilly, which has more than doubled in value since 2022, is now worth about $600 billion, eclipsing Elon Musk’s electric car company, which has fallen about 25% since the start of the year.
    • “There’s only so much one can read into the fates of two completely unrelated companies, but here’s a thought: For years, biotech specialists have pointed out that if generalist investors reallocated even 2% of their tech investments into the drug industry, it would make a massive difference for the comparatively small pond that is biotech.
    • “Through that lens, Lilly overtaking Tesla, to the extent it has any meaning at all, points to a future in which fund managers consider treating obesity and Alzheimer’s disease to be a better use of capital than making cars that sometimes don’t work when it’s cold, which would benefit biotech as a whole.”