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.
DEA Is Cutting Production of Prescription Opioids by 25% in 2017
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is moving to curb the national opioid epidemic by slashing the production of a number of popular prescription painkillers. In a notice published in the federal register, the DEA finalized a previous order on 2017 production quotas for a variety of Schedule I and II drugs, including addictive narcotics like oxycodone, hydromorphone, codeine, and fentanyl. The agency has the authority to set limits on manufacturing under the Controlled Substances Act. In a release, the DEA said it is reducing “the amount of almost every Schedule II opiate and opioid medication” by at least 25%. Some, like hydrocodone, commonly known by brand names like Vicodin or Lortab, will be cut by one-third. Via Huffington Post.
Paralyzing Illness Is Striking More U.S. Kids
A rare condition that causes paralysis is on the rise in American children, health officials reported this week. “We do have an uptick in cases of acute flaccid myelitis in 2016. Fifty confirmed cases reported to us in 24 different states,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pediatrician Dr. Manisha Patel told CBS News. About 90% of those cases are in children, said Patel, the acute flaccid myelitis team lead at the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC. More commonly referred to as AFM, health officials said it can occur as a result of a variety of germs including enteroviruses, West Nile virus, and adenoviruses. It affects the nervous system, primarily the spinal cord, and its symptoms are likened to those caused by polio (which was eradicated in the U.S. thanks to the polio vaccine). Via CBS News.
Feds Say More People Should Try Dialysis at Home
About half a million Americans need dialysis, which cleans toxins from the body when the kidneys can't anymore. It can cost more than $50,000 a year, and takes hours each week at a dialysis center. To meet the need, roughly 7,000 kidney dialysis centers have opened across the country. Patients go several times a week and spend half a day undergoing the life-sustaining procedure. Medicare is now taking steps to make it easier for people to do their own dialysis at home. Via NPR.
CDC Urges Americans to Get a Flu Shot as Soon as Possible
Federal health officials are urging all Americans to get their flu shots as soon as possible, and are especially concerned that too few elderly people are getting vaccinated. While the influenza virus causes relatively mild illness in most people, the disease can lead to tens of thousands of deaths during severe flu seasons, Frieden noted. About 100 children die each year from the flu. The CDC and other infectious disease specialists are concerned by a recent drop in seasonal flu vaccination. About 45% of the U.S. population got vaccinated against the virus last year, which was down 1.5 percentage points from the previous year. Via NPR.
Humans Have Reached Their Lifespan Limit, Researchers Say
Humans can only live so long, and we’re reaching the natural biological limit, researchers say in a report published in Nature. The paper says that despite life expectancy being dramatically higher than it was 100 years ago, it’s highly unlikely it will continue to rise any more than what it is right now. It also says the probability of anyone living for more than 125 years is incredibly unlikely. Via CBS Philly.
Mayo Clinic News
Mayo Clinic Implements Pharmacogenomic Testing into Electronic Records for Real-Time Alerts
The Mayo Clinic's Center for Individualized Medicine has designed a system for integrating pharmacogenomic testing into patients' electronic medical records in such a way as to provide real-time alerts to physicians who are prescribing medications. The researchers described the system in a publication in Genetics in Medicine last month. Pedro Caraballo, M.D., lead author of the study, told GenomeWeb that advances in genomic technology has led to many new discoveries about how genomics relates to health and disease and decreasing costs have made it possible to use next-generation sequencing in clinical settings. "However, translating all that information to patient care has been extremely difficult," Dr. Caraballo, also a clinical informaticist and internist at the Mayo Clinic, told GenomeWeb. Via GenomeWeb.
Mayo Clinic Research Highlights Features of Liver Disease Amid Increase in Cases
New research from the Mayo Clinic highlights the clinical features of a type of debilitating liver disease that has increased in case numbers recently as part of an effort to help understand the progression of a disease that lacks effective medical treatment. Primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) is a chronic condition that damages the ducts that carry digestive bile from the liver to the small intestine. The cause of the disease is unknown. “This is an uncommon but serious liver disease. We don’t have a good grasp of what causes it, but it affects 30,000 people across the U.S.,” Konstantinos Lazaridis, M.D., head of Mayo Clinic’s Genomic Hepatobiology Laboratory, said. Via Life Science Daily.
Mayo Career Fair Emphasizes Many Opportunities
Mayo Clinic is working to remind students there are many options in health care careers through the Mayo Clinic Health Care Career Festival. About 900 students from 50 different local schools showed up, learning about different careers through hands-on learning. "Our future workforce is right now in our high schools, and if we don't get them excited about their future, find a career their passionate for, then how can they be effective members of our community and one day (and) be our health care providers if they're not passionate for it? We need them to be excited; we need them to find something they enjoy getting up for work on Monday mornings,” said Jon Ninas. Via KAAL.
This Could Be the Worrisome Reason Why New Cancer Patients Are Not Using a Lifesaving Medicine
A surprising number of older cancer patients are delaying use of lifesaving leukemia drugs for months after they are diagnosed, possibly because of the high initial cost under Medicare, according to a new study. "Eventually, people find a way—this is a very important drug, so eventually people find a way to pay for it. . . . I think that's probably what's happening," said S. Vincent Rajkumar, M.D., a professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic. "It probably takes several months to work out a solution, but people will find a way." Via Washington Post.
4 Tips for Patients Seeking Individualized Medicine
The promise of precision medicine is becoming a reality as more doctors bring individualized therapies to the bedside. You or a family member could benefit if you suffer from illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, a rare undiagnosed disease, or a genetics-based condition. Individualized medicine, also known as precision or personalized medicine, is the concept that prediction, diagnosis, treatment and, eventually, prevention, can be targeted to your individual needs based on genetic profile, environment, and lifestyle. Via Mayo Clinic News Network.