Week in Review: Sept. 25

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The Week in Review provides an overview of the past week’s top health care content, including industry news and trends, Mayo Clinic and Mayo Medical Laboratories news, and upcoming events.


Industry News

Drug Goes From $13.50 a Tablet to $750, Overnight

Specialists in infectious disease are protesting a gigantic overnight increase in the price of a 62-year-old drug that is the standard of care for treating a life-threatening parasitic infection. The drug, called Daraprim, was acquired in August by Turing Pharmaceuticals, a start-up run by a former hedge fund manager. Turing immediately raised the price to $750 a tablet from $13.50, bringing the annual cost of treatment for some patients to hundreds of thousands of dollars. “What is it that they are doing differently that has led to this dramatic increase?” said Dr. Judith Aberg, the chief of the division of infectious diseases at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She said the price increase could force hospitals to use “alternative therapies that may not have the same efficacy.” Via NY Times.

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Nestle to Develop Alzheimer's Test in Swiss Research Alliance 

Nestle SA, the world’s largest food company, formed a research alliance with a Swiss drug developer to work on a test that could diagnose Alzheimer’s disease in its early stages. AC Immune SA, based in Lausanne, will provide expertise to develop a diagnostic test, according to a statement. It’s based on an antibody technology that originated at Prometheus Laboratories Inc., which Nestle acquired in 2011. Via Bloomberg. 

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Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity – Obesity Prevalence Maps

Obesity prevalence in 2014 varies across states and territories. No state had a prevalence of obesity less than 20%. 5 states and the District of Columbia had a prevalence of obesity between 20% and <25%. 23 states, Guam and Puerto Rico had a prevalence of obesity between 25% and <30%. 19 states had a prevalence of obesity between 30% and <35%. 3 states (Arkansas, Mississippi and West Virginia) had a prevalence of obesity of 35% or greater. The Midwest had the highest prevalence of obesity (30.7%), followed by the South (30.6%), the Northeast (27.3%), and the West (25.7%). Via CDC.

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The Federal Government Has A New Five-Year Health IT Strategic Plan

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) released the final Federal Health IT Strategic Plan for 2015 to 2020, which focuses on patient-centered data and care. The strategic plan includes four overarching goals: Advance person-centered health and self-management; Transform health care delivery and community health; Foster research, scientific knowledge and innovation; and Enhance health IT infrastructure. Via The Advisory Board Company.

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Things to Know About the Flu Shot: Lots of Options This Year 

Give flu vaccine another chance: This year's version got a recipe change that should make it more effective after last winter's misery from a nasty surprise strain of virus. Don't let a fear of needles stop you. Beyond the traditional shots, the squeamish for the first time could try a needle-free injection, or choose the nasal spray or tiny skin-deep needles that have been around for a while. Via Yahoo!.

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Mayo Clinic News

Prophetic Proteins: Predicting Patient Response to Melanoma Immunotherapy 

Researchers from the Mayo Clinic have identified a protein marker, Bim, which can help effectively predict patients’ responses to PD-1 blockade immunotherapy for melanoma. Rosana Dronca, M.D., hematologist at the Mayo Clinic, presented these findings at the American Association for Cancer Research International Cancer Immunotherapy Conference in New York. “The discovery of biomarkers of sensitivity are vital not only for informing clinical decisions, but also to help identify which patients with melanoma, and possibly other malignancies, who are most likely to benefit from PD-1 blockade,” she said. Via HCP Live.

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Whooping Cough's Rare Cousin Caused Outbreak

When is whooping cough not whooping cough?  When it's caused by Bordetella parapertussis, a relatively rare cousin of the pathogen B. pertussis that is the usual cause of the disease, Minnesota researchers said here. But although the causes are different, the clinical picture of the disease seen in a late-2014 outbreak in the state was very similar to classical whooping cough, according to Vytas Karalius, MPH, a medical student at the Mayo Medical School in Rochester, Minn. Via MedPage Today.

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Illumina Launching ‘PopArray’ Consortium to Develop Population Health Genomics Test 

Illumina is building out a new consortium that will pool and plumb a huge amount of genomic data on a population health level – to build a new product. The scale, if they pull this off, is quite large – it’s chasing triple the volume of the White House’s Precision Medicine Initiative. The informally dubbed “PopArray” Consortium plans to gather at least three million genetic samples from companies and like-minded organizations, the company said, trying to drum up support for the project at the Individualizing Medicine Conference that was held in Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Via MedCity News.

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From Preventing Side Effects To Sequencing Babies, 5 Ways Precision Medicine Will Change How Doctors Treat Patients

Genomics has come a long way since then, and from Sept. 20 to 23, genetics experts from around the world attended the 4th Annual Individualizing Medicine Conference at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester, Minn., to collaboratively discuss the future of public health precision. "What's in it for you?" Florida’s Mayo Clinic Vice President Gianrico Farrugia asked a crowd of health providers. "Individualized or precision medicine offers help for your medical practice today. You can take advantage of these advances to help your patients, to better diagnose, treat, or prevent illness right now." Via Medical Daily.

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New Cancer Treatments Reduce Radiation Risks 

Called radioactive seed localization, the method involves implanting the tumor with a rice-grain-size “seed” that emits a very low amount of radiation. Surgeons then trace the seed by the radiation, locating the tumor for removal. It’s a less invasive, more accurate alternative to the usual technique of implanting a wire as a guide. The technology was developed by the Mayo Clinic and the Moffitt Cancer Center a decade ago, but is just now seeing practical use, with The Polyclinic being one of the first medical centers in the state to offer this option, and others are expected to follow. Via Seattle magazine.

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Kelley Schreiber

Kelley Schreiber is a Marketing Channel Manager at Mayo Medical Laboratories. She is the principle editor and writer of Insights and leads social media and direct marketing strategy. Kelley has worked at Mayo Clinic since 2013. Outside of work, you can find Kelley running, traveling, playing with her new kitten, and exploring new foods.