Week in Review: April 8

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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

The Graying of HIV: 1 in 6 New U.S. Cases Are People Older Than 50

Thousands of people 50 or older are diagnosed with HIV each year in the United States, a development that has significant consequences for the health care and social support they need and the doctors, counselors and others who provide it. Older people tend to be sicker when the infection is finally discovered. They usually have other health conditions that accompany aging and often are too embarrassed to reveal their illness to family and friends. Many never dreamed they were at risk of contracting the virus, and some have outmoded ideas of a disease that long ago became manageable through advances in medication. Via Washington Post.

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Killer Snails and Assassin Bugs: Secrets of the World’s Deadliest Creatures

The world’s deadliest animal doesn’t have fangs or bone-crushing coils. But it can inject parasites and viruses straight into your bloodstream. What is this killing machine? None other than the humble mosquito. That, at least, is what Bill Gates wrote when he put out a list of the world’s most deadly creatures. The list sparked controversy because, technically, it’s not the mosquito—or the freshwater snail, or the tsetse fly, or the dog—that kills. It’s the viruses and parasites these critters transmit. Via STAT. 

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How a Painkiller Designed to Deter Abuse Helped Spark an HIV Outbreak

For its part, the company Endo has said that its decision to reformulate Opana was a well-intended attempt to prevent abuse. As the company told the Food and Drug Administration in 2012, Endo reformulated the drug "to provide a crush-resistant product, equally as effective as Opana ER, which would discourage abuse, misuse and diversion." Endo declined repeated requests from NPR for an interview. According to study data, as well as interviews with Indiana residents addicted to Opana, the reformulation effectively deterred many people from snorting the drug. But the change also led a significant number of people to abuse the drug by injection. When needles are shared, the injection route can transmit HIV, hepatitis C, or other infections. Via NPR.

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Amid Public Feuds, a Venerated Medical Journal Finds Itself under Attack

The New England Journal of Medicine is arguably the best-known and most venerated medical journal in the world. Studies featured in its pages are cited more often, on average, than those of any of its peers. And the careers of young researchers can take off if their work is deemed worthy of appearing in it. But following a series of well-publicized feuds with prominent medical researchers and former editors of the journal, some are questioning whether the publication is slipping in relevancy and reputation. The journal and its top editor, critics say, have resisted correcting errors and lag behind others in an industry-wide push for more openness in medical research. And dissent has been dismissed with a paternalistic arrogance, they say. Via ProPublica.

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GSK to Make Cancer Drugs More Accessible in Poor Countries

Andrew Witty, who has headed GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) since 2008, recently announced that he would retire in March 2017. But the 51-year-old Witty, a marathon runner who has been with the company for his entire career, has a vision for the pharmaceutical giant that stretches far beyond his tenure. Building off a scheme the company has used for its anti-HIV drugs, GSK announced today that it intends to sign agreements about drugs in its cancer portfolio with the “Medicines Patent Pool,” a U.N.-backed organization that helps generic manufacturers license and produce products. GSK says it also plans to take a more “graduated” approach to filing and enforcing patents for other medicines to encourage generic drug companies to make and supply GSK products now available mainly in developed countries.Via Science Magazine.

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Mayo Clinic News

Chemo May Prolong Lives of Some Brain Cancer Patients: Study

Adding chemotherapy to radiation treatment may add years to the lives of people with certain slow-growing brain tumors, a new study finds. The findings come from a long-term follow-up of patients who took part in a trial that began in 1998. Until now, there hasn't been any therapy known to improve life expectancy for these patients," said lead researcher Jan Buckner, M.D. He is the chair of oncology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Via HealthDay.

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New Advances in the Understanding and Treatment of Migraines

Severe, throbbing head pain, sensitivity to light, nausea . . . these are just some of the symptoms the 36 million migraine sufferers in the U.S. regularly endure. Check out this interview with David Dodick, M.D., Director of the Migraine Program at Mayo Clinic, and Chair of the American Migraine Foundation. Via NPR.

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50 Most Influential Physician Executives and Leaders 2016

As conversations in health care continue to focus on quality, patient safety, and a system shifting to value over volume, Modern Healthcare's 12th annual ranking of the 50 Most Influential Physician Executives and Leaders increasingly reflects the industry players charged with making it happen. No. 1 this year is Dr. Robert Califf, the newly confirmed commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. John Noseworthy, M.D., CEO at Mayo Clinic, No. 2. Via Modern Healthcare.

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Zapping Your Skull Could Alleviate Virtual Reality Motion Sickness

Technology that the Mayo Clinic developed to help military pilots avoid nausea while using flight simulators may soon find its way into virtual-reality headsets, though you’ll have to be willing to tolerate some electrodes on your head to try it. Mayo Clinic researchers have been working for over a decade on this technology, which uses software to analyze motion you see on a screen in front of you and an electrical current applied to your head to stimulate the inner ear in hopes of tricking you into feeling that motion. Via MIT Technology Review.

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World Health Day: Diabetes Is a Global Issue

More than 422 million adults live with diabetes—nearly four times as many since 1980, according to the first global report on diabetes by the World Health Organization. The report's release coincides with World Health Day. It says half of those with diabetes live in China, India, U.S., Brazil, and Indonesia. In the U.S., 22 million Americans have either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Via Mayo Clinic News Network. 

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Gina Chiri-Osmond

Gina Chiri-Osmond is a Marketing Channel Manager at Mayo Medical Laboratories. She manages public relations and media outreach. Gina has worked at Mayo Clinic since 2011. Outside of work, Gina is going for gold in volleyball at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo . . . or at small-town summer festivals.