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.
U.S. Drug Prices Should Reflect Value to Patients
A panel of medical experts said the prices of prescription medicines in the United States need to be brought in line with the value they bring to patients instead of continuing to let drugmakers set any price they choose. "Americans at the same time are getting tremendously ripped off with drugs and also getting tremendous value and we almost never know when we're getting ripped off and when we're getting real value and that has to change," said Steven Pearson, president of the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER), an independent non-profit group that evaluates clinical and cost effectiveness of new medicines. Via Reuters.
The Most Crucial Half-Hour at a Hospital: The Shift Change
Hospitals are transforming the traditional way nurses change shifts to reduce the chance of errors and oversights in the transfer of information. A critical side effect: patients feel safe, included, and satisfied. Studies show that so-called bedside shift reports, with both nurses meeting in the presence of the patient during the handover, help nurses communicate better, not only with each other but with patients and their families. Studies show the approach helps reduce the number of patient falls and catch safety issues such as an incompatible blood transfusion and dangerous air bubbles that form in arteries. Via Wall Street Journal.
Meat is Linked to Higher Cancer Risk, W.H.O. Report Finds
An international panel of experts convened by the World Health Organization concluded that eating processed meat like hot dogs, ham, and bacon raises the risk of colon cancer and that consuming other red meats “probably” raises the risk as well. But the increase in risk is so slight that experts said most people should not be overly worried about it. Via NY Times.
FDA Approves Cancer Treatment That Uses Virus to Attack Tumors
Viruses are usually thought of as agents of disease. But for the first time, scientists are poised to bring to the U.S. market a virus that can help thwart cancer, a development that could herald a new age of viral therapies. Approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treating advanced-stage melanoma, the virus — called Imlygic, which was developed in part in a Massachusetts laboratory — is a modified version of the herpes virus that both attacks the cancer and sparks the immune system into action against tumors. Via Boston Globe.
Cutting Sugar Improves Children’s Health in Just 10 Days
Obese children who cut back on their sugar intake see improvements in their blood pressure, cholesterol readings, and other markers of health after just 10 days, a rigorous new study found. The new research may help shed light on a question scientists have long debated: Is sugar itself harming health, or is the weight gain that comes from consuming sugary drinks and foods mainly what contributes to illness over the long term? In the new study, which was financed by the National Institutes of Health and published in the journal Obesity, scientists designed a clinical experiment to attempt to answer this question. They removed foods with added sugar from a group of children’s diets and replaced them with other types of carbohydrates so that the subjects’ weight and overall calorie intake remained roughly the same. Via NY Times.
Mayo Clinic News
What is the Best Research on Breast Cancer Screenings?
The American Cancer Society has updated breast cancer screening guidelines with some significant changes that align more closely with the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force. Women with an average risk of breast cancer can wait until 45 to start mammograms and then get them once a year. At 55, women can go to every other year for screening. These new guidelines join recommendations out recently that change how often women should have pelvic exams and Pap smears. Via MPR.
Immunotherapy May Lead to Abnormal Thyroid Function in Patients With Cancer
A comprehensive review of patients receiving pembrolizumab at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, has found an incidence of abnormal thyroid function tests as high as 15 percent, according to a study presented by Danae Delivanis, M.D., at the 15th International Thyroid Congress and 85th Annual Meeting of the American Thyroid Association in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Pembrolizumab, an immune checkpoint inhibitor approved to treat melanoma that has metastasized or cannot be surgically removed, as well as non–small cell lung cancer that has metastasized, is known to sometimes cause immune-related adverse events (AEs), often of the thyroid. Via Targeted Oncology.
FDA OKs Herpesvirus to Treat Cancer
“The era of the oncolytic virus is probably here,” Stephen Russell, a cancer researcher and haematologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, told Nature. On October 27, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) greenlighted Amgen’s T-VEC (now called Imlygic), a genetically engineered herpesvirus called talimogene laherparepvec, for the treatment of melanoma lesions in the skin and lymph nodes, making it the first oncolytic virus to receive market approval. Dozens of other oncolytic viruses are currently being tested in clinical trials. Via The Scientist.
Scientists Probe Indoor Work Spaces for Clues to Better Health
Clinical trials are due to get underway early next year at the Well Living Lab, a new, 7,500-square-foot research facility adjacent to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, designed to study indoor environments with the aim of creating healthier spaces. Sensors throughout the building monitor factors ranging from noise levels to air quality and temperature; other sensors in furniture will tell how long people stay seated and their posture. “The ultimate goal is to improve health,” said Brent Bauer, medical director of the Well Living Lab and professor of medicine for the Mayo Clinic Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program. “If we spend 90% of our time in an indoor environment there are almost endless opportunities to find better ways to do what we’re doing inside the building,” he said. Via Wall Street Journal.
Guidelines on Sharing Individual Genomic Research Findings with Family
A blue-ribbon project group funded by the National Institutes of Health has published the first consensus guidelines on how researchers should share genomic findings in research on adults and children with other family members. The recommendations, published in the Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, offer direction on sharing information before and after the death of an individual research participant. Via Mayo Clinic News Network.