Week in Review: Nov. 27

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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

FDA Targets Inaccurate Medical Tests, Citing Dangers and Costs 

Inaccurate and unreliable medical tests are prompting abortions, promoting unnecessary surgeries, putting tens of thousands of people on unneeded drugs and raising medical costs, the Food and Drug Administration has concluded. Life-threatening diseases go undetected in some cases. In others, patients are treated for conditions they do not have. “Patients have been demonstrably harmed or may have been harmed by tests that did not meet FDA requirements,” federal investigators concluded in a report to Congress last week. Via NY Times.

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At Walgreens and CVS, a Push to Collect Customer Health Data by Dangling Discounts

Want $50 off your next purchase at Walgreens? You’ll have to run 2,000 miles. Or step on a scale 2,000 times. Or take 2,000 readings of your blood glucose level. And you’ll have to let the global pharmacy chain track all that data — and give them permission to mine it to target you with ads. Walgreens this month launched a new smartphone app that customers can sync up wirelessly with their blood glucose and blood pressure monitors so they can feed their personal health information directly into the chain’s data system in exchange for discounts. The app is novel. But the practice is increasingly familiar. Via Stat News. 

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Early Detection of Cervical Cancer Increased After ACA Expanded Coverage

The Affordable Care Act may have helped more women get early treatment for cervical cancer, according to a preliminary new study. The fraction of young women whose cervical cancers were found and treated early -- when women have a better chance of survival -- increased after 2010, when the ACA expanded insurance coverage to young people by allowing them to remain on their parents' health plans. Via USA Today.

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Blame Gut Bacteria If You Can't Stop Eating: New Study Suggests Microbes Influence Your Hunger Center

Gut microbes could be the one responsible for telling people that dinner is done. Researchers of a new study have found chemical clues suggesting that when certain bacteria in the stomach already had enough to eat, they inform the brain it is time to push away the plate. Via Tech Times.

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We Now Have a Weapon That Could Wipe Out One of the World’s Biggest Killers

The deadliest organism on the planet rides in mosquito bellies and kills more than 400,000 people every year. Though we’ve cut malaria deaths by half since 2000, there is a long way to go. The fight is so great that there have been demands to obliterate mosquitoes, and the malaria-causing parasite with them. But eradication is no easy task. Just consider the fight against polio, which began in 1988 and still costs hundreds of millions of dollars every year. Now a new weapon, called “gene drive,” offers a cheap and easy way out. It allows scientists to hijack the process of evolution and pass on genes at incredible speeds. In a study published in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, scientists at the University of California at San Diego and Irvine have developed the first prototype of a gene drive for mosquitoes that makes them immune to the parasite. Via Quartz.

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Mayo Clinic News

Risk of Off-Label Uses for Prescription Drugs

About 12 percent of drugs doctors prescribe are for uses other than those approved by regulators, a recent study found. So-called off-label prescribing significantly raises the rate of negative side effects, the research showed. The study, published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine in November, suggests doctors should take greater care in choosing when to use off-label drugs and to more closely monitor patients receiving them. Via Wall Street Journal.

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Mayo Clinic Tops Health Care Supply Chain Ranking 

The Mayo Clinic has taken the top spot on the Gartner, Inc. annual Healthcare Supply Chain Top 25 ranking. The 2015 ranking recognises companies across the health care value chain that demonstrate leadership in improving patient care and lowering costs. "Alignment to patient outcomes, company strategy, and future revenue models in health care are the key themes for 2015," said Eric O'Daffer, research vice president at Gartner. Via Digital Supply Chain.

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MI-GENES: Discussing Genetic Risk for CHD May Motivate Patients to Lower LDL-C Levels 

The MI-GENES study, which included 203 patients, showed that those who received their genetic-risk score, based on 28 genetic variants, plus discussion about traditional CHD risk factors, had significantly lower levels of LDL-C six months later versus those who heard about traditional risk factors only. Lead investigator Dr Iftikhar J Kullo, of Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, told heartwire from Medscape that the LDL-C lowering most likely came from the group's greater initiation of statins. Kullo presented the results here at the American Heart Association 2015 Scientific Sessions. Via Medscape.

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Olfactory Dysfunction Linked to Amnestic MCI and AD

A new study has added more detail to what is known already about the connection between olfactory dysfunction and cognitive decline."We found that impaired smell or impaired olfaction is a marker for progressing from normal cognition to MCI, particularly for the amnestic type, where we found a two-fold increased risk, and for progression from having amnestic MCI, which we think is a precursor for Alzheimer's disease, to actually developing Alzheimer's disease, where we had a five-fold increased risk," said lead study author Rosebud Roberts, M.B., Ch.B., professor of epidemiology and neurology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota. Via Medscape.

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Pulmonary Hypertension Awareness

November is Pulmonary Hypertension Awareness Month. About 20,000 people in the United States are being treated for pulmonary hypertension (PH). Mayo Clinic in Florida is one of 26 designated Pulmonary Hypertension and Vascular Disease Centers in the country, recognized based on patient volumes, comprehensive care, family support, and research initiatives. Via Mayo Clinic News Network. 

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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.