Week in Review: June 3

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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

We’re Spending $107 Billion on Cancer Drugs, but Is It Worth It?

A flood of innovative cancer treatments helped fuel an 11.5 percent surge in spending on oncology drugs over the past year—to $107 billion globally, according to a new report. But there's a crucial question the study can't quite answer: How much are patients benefiting from this expanding arsenal of high-priced drugs? The report from IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics highlights 70 new cancer treatments, treating more than 20 types of tumors, all approved in the past five years. In the United States, where cancer drug spending was $37.8 billion last year, those new drugs alone account for $9.4 billion of the increase since 2010. Via Washington Post.

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FDA Issues New Guidelines on Salt, Pressuring Food Industry

The proposed guidelines released are voluntary, so food companies won't be required to comply. But the idea is to persuade companies and restaurants—many of which have already lowered sodium levels in their products—to take a more consistent approach. The guidelines set recommended limits for about 150 categories of foods, from cereals to pizzas and sandwiches. Some targets have a two-year goal, while others have a 10-year goal. Via ABC News. 

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Minn. Mental Health System Gets $48 Million in New Funding, Defying National Trend

For the second consecutive year, Minnesota legislators approved tens of millions of dollars in new funding for mental health care, defying a national trend of state cuts to such services. In a session derided for inaction and partisan squabbling, lawmakers once again came together on a bipartisan basis to approve proposals aimed at easing chronic bottlenecks in the state-funded mental health system and increasing the availability of crisis services in the community. Via Star Tribune.

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Computer Vision Syndrome Affects Millions

Worldwide, up to 70 million workers are at risk for computer vision syndrome, and those numbers are only likely to grow. In a report about the condition written by eye care specialists in Nigeria and Botswana and published in Medical Practice and Reviews, the authors detail an expanding list of professionals at risk—accountants, architects, bankers, engineers, flight controllers, graphic artists, journalists, academicians, secretaries, and students—all of whom “cannot work without the help of computer.” And that’s not counting the millions of children and adolescents who spend many hours a day playing computer games. Studies have indicated 70% to 90% of people who use computers extensively, whether for work or play, have one or more symptoms of computer vision syndrome. Via NY Times.

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Concussed Kids Head Straight for Primary Care

More than three-quarters of children with concussions saw their primary care physician for treatment first, rather than making a trip to the emergency department (ED), according to a large retrospective review. An analysis of electronic health record data at one institution found that, overall, 81.9% (95% CI 81.1%-82.8%) of patients had their first concussion-related health care visit within the primary care department while 11.7% (95% CI 11.0%-12.4%) were seen in the ED, reported Kristy B. Arbogast, Ph.D., of Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and colleagues. Via MedPage Today.

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Mayo Clinic News

Discovery of Multiple Sclerosis Gene Could Inspire New Therapies–If It’s Right

A newly discovered genetic mutation gives people who carry it a whopping 70% chance of developing multiple sclerosis, potentially opening the way toward new therapies for a debilitating neurological disorder whose ultimate cause has stumped researchers for decades. The mutation found in NR1H3 consists of a one-letter “misspelling,” a biological typo sufficient to hobble the protein made by the gene. Via STAT.

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Too Fat to Fight: Is the Obesity Crisis a National Security Risk?

An increasing number of young black men and women are considered too overweight or obese to meet the minimum physical requirements for enlisting in the U.S. armed forces. Gregory Poland, M.D., a medical doctor at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, says young people like Williams are literally "too fat to fight." Via NBC News.

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Mayo Clinic Tests Self-Help Prenatal Care as a Solution

A new Mayo Clinic program cuts the number of prenatal visits for women with uncomplicated pregnancies from around 12 to eight, and trains them to monitor their blood pressure and babies’ heartbeats. Doctors discouraged the use of take-home fetal monitoring kits when they first hit the market, because they worried that user error would cause expecting mothers to panic if they couldn’t find their babies’ heartbeats. But now the monitors are key to a Mayo Clinic effort to streamline prenatal care. Via Star Tribune.

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Study Finds Leaks in Brains of Patients with Early Alzheimer’s Disease

A study published in the journal Science Translational Medicine suggests that the plaques—made of a protein called amyloid beta—may actually have a role after all, possibly in fighting off infection, and that Alzheimer’s may be an unwelcome result of this legitimate purpose. “It’s intriguing, it’s exciting, and it opens new opportunities for intervening in the disease, but at the same time it’s very preliminary and speculative,” says Ronald Petersen, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Mayo Clinic Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center in Rochester. “I wouldn’t go too far in saying that this is the answer or breakthrough.” Via New Hampshire Voice.

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Mayo Clinic Uncovers How One Gene, Protein Suppresses Tumor Formation

Pten (short for phosphatase and tensin homolog) is a tumor suppressor that is defective in about 20-25 percent of all patients with cancers. Mayo Clinic researchers now have discovered that Pten safeguards against tumor formation by keeping chromosome numbers intact when a cell splits into two daughter cells. In this study, the last three amino acids of the Pten protein, which are often missing in human cancers, were found to be critical for forming an intact mitotic spindle, a structure required for accurate chromosome segregation. The findings appear in the online issue of Nature Cell Biology. 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.