Midweek update

Photo by Derek Lamar on Unsplash

Happy Juneteenth and RIP Willie Mays.

  • Federal News Network lets us know,
    • “Especially in the federal government, change often happens slowly. But the Office of Personnel Management said it’s seeing early indications that its efforts to reform federal recruitment are starting to pay off.
    • “OPM’s initiatives over the last couple years, such as banning the consideration of salary history, creating a job portal for internship openings, and broadening eligibility for paid internships through the Pathways Program, all aim to open the doors to more candidates and make the hiring process more equitable.
    • “Even though the larger impacts of those changes are likely still further down the road, OPM Acting Director Rob Shriver said signs are pointing in the right direction, especially for OPM’s efforts centered on improving recruitment and retention of younger employees.”Even though the larger impacts of those changes are likely still further down the road, OPM Acting Director Rob Shriver said signs are pointing in the right direction, especially for OPM’s efforts centered on improving recruitment and retention of younger employees.
    • “I do think what we’re seeing is a renewed and increased interest in federal job opportunities by early-career talent,” Shriver told Federal News Network Tuesday during an event for federal interns hosted at OPM’s headquarters office.”

From the public health and medical research front,

  • MedPage Today informs us,
    • “Increasingly, research is coming out in favor of drinking as little as possible — but the exact level of risk hasn’t been made clear, according to the New York Times.
    • “A recent meta-analysis of 107 studies found that no amount of alcohol consumption improved health. It had come after one scientist noticed that many alcohol studies had a fundamental flaw: they included ex-drinkers in their “abstainers” group, who may have stopped drinking because of illness.
    • “By comparison, moderate drinkers looked healthier, according to the Times. The reevaluation found a statistically significant increase in all-cause mortality for women who drank under two drinks a day, and men who had more than three. Another study found that even one or two drinks daily can shrink the brain.
    • “So how should people think about their risk? Someone who has two drinks a week could shave a week off their life, and seven drinks a week could shave off 2.5 months, a researcher told the Times. But consume five drinks a day, and it may cost 2 years.
  • STAT News reports,
    • “For members of a large extended Colombian family, an early Alzheimer’s diagnosis is practically a grim guarantee. But new research further supports the idea that a rare genetic mutation can delay the devastating disease’s onset. * * *
    • “The findings, published on Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, come five years after this research team identified a woman in the Colombian family who had two copies of the Christchurch mutation and developed Alzheimer’s 30 years later than expected. That finding suggested that the mutation had protected her, but outside researchers pointed out that it was hard to say for certain based on a single person. And they added that the mutation’s putative protection would be more convincing if researchers could show a more modest disease delay in people with one copy of the variant, found in a gene coding for a form of the protein apolipoprotein E, or APOE.
    • “The Alzheimer’s field has long been focused on removing amyloid plaques to slow disease, and the Food and Drug Administration is widely expected to approve one such drug from Eli Lilly after approving an anti-amyloid therapy from Biogen and Eisai. But the new study adds to growing evidence that supports targeting APOE. Some efforts to develop drugs that mimic the Christchurch mutation’s effects are already underway. The new study’s senior author, Joseph F. Arboleda-Velasquez, a cell biologist at Mass Eye and Ear, said these latest findings add fresh urgency to that work.”
  • Medscape adds,
    • “Healthy behaviors have been linked to a lower risk for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) but may also benefit patients already diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or early AD, new research suggested.
    • “After 20 weeks, patients following an intensive multimodal lifestyle intervention showed significant improvements across three measures of cognition and function and less progression on one measure when compared with usual care.”
  • Forbes tells us,
    • “Health officials across the continental U.S. are starting to warn about the annual return of West Nile virus, a potentially lethal human disease without treatments or vaccines that is rearing its head earlier than usual as the changing climate makes the environment more hospitable for the mosquitoes that spread it.”

From the U.S. healthcare business front,

  • MedCity News offers an interview with Erin Fox, PharmD, MHA, who has tracked drug shortages for more than 20 years and sees no easy solutions for what has become a record run.
    • Q: Are there any signs that this is letting up?
    • A: Unfortunately, no. We haven’t necessarily solved some of the root causes.
    • “We have, overall, relatively few manufacturers. [FDA] halted inspections during COVID. Now they’re back, at factories that maybe haven’t been inspected for 5 or 6 years. They’re finding some things to fix. Those fixes can take anywhere from 6 to 18 months for production to get fully back on schedule.
    • “Meanwhile, other companies don’t necessarily have the capacity to ramp up production to make up the difference.
    • “It’s not the FDA’s fault. We want them to find those quality deficits. But when FDA goes out looking all at once, it can be pretty disruptive.
    • Q: What are the typical drugs that land on the shortage list?
    • A: Generic, injectable hospital drugs, or older drugs. They are usually pretty low cost. There’s not a lot of resilience in the supply chain for another company to make up the difference.
    • “We saw all those chemotherapy shortages last year in part because a large factory in India, (the FDA) found quality problems there. They made a large amount of the U.S. supply. The other companies were unable to quickly make up the difference.
  • Beckers Hospital Review identifies five drugs that recently wound up on the shortage list.
  • MedCity News share “Nine Requirements for an Optimal Genetic Test Benefit Program” under health plan coverage.
    • Why? “An estimated 180,000 genetic tests are on the market, with an average of 10 new tests added daily. CPT coding has yet to keep up. Only about 500 CPT codes are used for 360 times the number of tests. The resulting system is slow, inefficient, expensive, and prone to waste, fraud, and abuse. Health plans need management programs designed specifically for genetic testing, which will only grow in volume and complexity.”
  • Fortune via Yahoo Finance offers an interview with “Tilak Mandadi [who] joined CVS in 2022 as EVP of ventures and chief digital, data, analytics and technology officer at CVS. [At that time,] there were separate teams running data, analytics, IT, and other technology functions. One of his earliest projects was to combine all of those functions into an integrated organization. He also appointed chief digital technology officers to oversee each of the company’s divisions.” Check it out.