Week in Review: May 12

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

Common Painkillers Linked to Increased Risk of Heart Attack, Study Says

Taking even over-the-counter doses of common painkillers known as NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) has been linked to an increased risk of heart attack in a new study. The likelihood of experiencing a heart attack was calculated to increase by an average of 20% to 50%, compared with someone not taking the drugs, regardless of the dosage and amount of time the medications are taken. The findings are observational and based on an association, however, with the drugs not proved to be a a direct cause of heart attack. Via CNN.

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Drug Safety Issues often Arise after FDA Approval, New Study Finds

Almost one-third of drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration were flagged later for safety issues, new research reveals. But it doesn't necessarily mean drugs are approved too soon, says the study author. Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, the Mayo Clinic and Yale School of Medicine analyzed data on 222 new drugs—183 pharmaceuticals and 39 biologics—approved by the FDA between 2001 and 2010. Most drugs are pharmaceuticals, meaning they are created from small molecules using chemistry techniques. Biologics are produced from living organisms grown in labs. Via CBS News.

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Fresh Food by Prescription: This Health Care Firm Is Trimming Costs

The advice to eat a healthy diet is not new. Back around 400 B.C., Hippocrates, the Greek doctor, had this missive: Let food be thy medicine. But as a society, we've got a long way to go. Calories are cheap, and indulgent foods full of salt, sugar, and fat are usually within our reach 24/7. So, how best to turn this around? Consider Tom Shicowich's story. It begins with a toe. His left pinky toe. "One day I looked down, and it was a different color . . . kind of blue," Shicowich says. And he began to feel sick. "I thought I was coming down with the flu." The next day, he was on the operating table. A surgeon amputated his toe, and it took two weeks of intravenous antibiotics to fend off the infection. Via NPR.

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"Gray Death" Is the Latest, "Scariest" Opioid Drug Threat

It's being called "gray death" and the new and dangerous drug combination underscores the ever-changing face of the opioid epidemic. Investigators have found it and recorded overdoses blamed on it in Alabama, Georgia, and Ohio. The drug looks like concrete mix and varies in consistency from a hard, chunky material to a fine powder. It's a combination of several opioids that are tied to thousands of fatal overdoses in the U.S., including heroin, fentanyl, carfentanil (sometimes used to tranquilize large animals, including elephants), and a synthetic opioid called U-47700. Via CBS.

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Minnesota Reports Four New Measles Cases as Hospitals Issue Precaution

Several major Twin Cities hospitals and clinic systems announced precautionary limits on visitors as four more cases of measles were reported by state health officials. Allina Health said Monday morning that it's asking that children under age 5 not visit its hospitals unless they are seeking care. All children under age 11 are asked to wear a mask while visiting Allina clinics or hospitals. Via Star Tribune.

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Mayo Clinic News

Mayo Clinic Working to Expand Cancer-Detecting Test

A test is working to detect the early stages of cancer in patients. Doctors at the Mayo Clinic are looking to expand that test to include all types of cancer. "If you can detect small amount of abnormal DNA in tissue, in fluid or eventually in blood, it makes it a much simpler process to screen patient," Dr. Michele Lewis with Mayo Clinic said. So far, Lewis said the test, called methylated DNA, works to detect two forms of cancer: colon and pancreatic. Via ActionNewsJax.

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Mayo Clinic-Endorsed Product Could Be Concussion "Game-Changer"

The Minnesota State High School League will not test new technology endorsed by the Mayo Clinic that allows parents and coaches to immediately and objectively diagnose concussions in athletes on the sidelines, according to the MSHSL's top medical advisor. Dr. Michael Stuart, co-director of Mayo’s Sports Medicine Center, called the test a “game-changer.” “Currently, there are very few ways to objectively diagnose a concussion,” Stuart said. Via KSTP.

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Mayo in Rochester Now Offering Gender Reassignment Surgery

Mayo Clinic says its surgeons have performed the first gender reassignment surgery in Rochester. Doctors helped Michael Keller of Rochester transition to Marisa Ann Bella in a nearly six-hour procedure. The 1980 Rochester Lourdes graduate was one of the first patients to enroll in Mayo's Transgender and Intersex Specialty Care Clinic when it opened more than two years ago . . . Mayo Clinic says planning and preparation for offering reassignment surgery began four years ago. Via Kare U.S. News & World Report.

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The First ALS Drug in 22 Years Is Approved—And Costs 4 Times What It Does in Japan

For the first time in 22 years, the Food and Drug Administration approved a new drug to treat amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, a disorder in which patients lose the ability to move, and eventually, to breathe. The new medicine, called Radicava (generic name: edaravone), was developed and will be sold by MT Pharma America, a Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharmaceuticals, a Japanese pharmaceutical firm . . . . "It’s exciting," says Nathan Staff, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the ALS Clinic at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. "I expect many, if not all, of our patients will be lining up to try to get the medication."
Via Forbes.

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Mayo Clinic Minute: Nanotechnology Fights Cancer

Mayo Clinic researchers are using tiny, custom-made particles to fight cancer. It's called nanotechnology, and Betty Kim, M.D., Ph.D., and her team have figured out a way to engineer nanoparticles to target tumors, while simultaneously prompting your immune system to fight the cancer. Her research is published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology. 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.