Morning Rounds

Abilify MyCite, the first 'digital pill,' will soon roll out

(hyacinth empinado / stat)

The first digital pill will come with a list price of $1,650 a month and soon be rolled out commercially to the first patients: people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder covered by Medicaid in some regions. The FDA approved Abilify MyCite — which is embedded with a sensor that can alert a doctor or caregiver when swallowed — last year. It's a high-tech makeover for the antipsychotic Abilify, which has gone generic. The average cash price for a month's supply of the generic runs around $700, according to GoodRx. STAT's Rebecca Robbins reports that Otsuka, which sells Abilify MyCite, says the limited rollout is intentional. “We believe having fewer people treated initially really allows us to listen hard and focus in on the patients, the prescribers, and the health plans,” says Otsuka's Andrew Wright. 

The CDC wants to study water contamination in a new way

There are an estimated 200 million cases of acute gastrointestinal illness in the U.S. each year, but there isn’t reliable data to nail down how often that’s tied to tainted drinking water. Now, the CDC is hoping to dig up U.S. data with a proposed new study of what happens when water pressure drops — like when a water main breaks — and whether that can lead to contamination that can make people sick. Studies in Norway and Sweden have linked drops in water pressure to an increased risk of gastrointestinal illness. The proposed cohort study would survey households across the U.S. about water use and health issues. The idea is open for public comment until Oct. 29.

Illinois requires insurers to cover egg, sperm, and embryo freezing

This week, Illinois became the fourth state to require health insurers to cover egg, sperm, and embryo preservation for patients with cancer and other conditions. Treatments for some conditions can threaten a patient’s fertility, but many insurers don’t cover the costs of freezing sperm, eggs, and embryos. Sperm freezing can cost hundreds of dollars, and egg and embryo freezing can cost thousands. Illinois joins just a handful of states who have passed measures in the past year requiring insurance coverage for fertility preservation, including Delaware, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.

Inside STATThe Senate could pass an opioids package soon, but a new law is still far off

The Senate is likely to pass a sweeping bill to address the opioid crisis in the coming weeks, following a House measure passed in June. But the finish line remains far off. Lawmakers still haven't touched many of the bill’s most contentious issues, like debates over patient privacy. There’s no sign yet they’ll iron out those issues before the Senate votes. That procrastination means a select group of lawmakers will spend September and October — or longer — hammering out the hotly debated details. Lawmakers, congressional aides, and lobbyists told STAT a final vote won’t likely come until this November. STAT's Lev Facher has the story here

Study pinpoints suicide risks in U.S. soliders

A new study finds that more than one-third of enlisted soldiers who've attempted suicide didn't have a previous mental health diagnosis. Researchers looked at 9,650 enlisted soldiers with a documented suicide attempt and compared them to more than 150,000 controls. Women were more likely to attempt suicide, as were people who had made more recent outpatient visits for physical health, experienced a combat injury, or had been exposed to family violence. "Suicide attempt risk among soldiers with unrecognized mental health problems is a significant and important challenge," the authors write.

In a related editorial, experts outline how the Army has tweaked its approach to mental health care in recent years, including making behavioral health clinicians available near barracks and better integrating behavioral health care into primary care. 

Health officials investigating salmonella outbreak 

Health and food safety officials are investigating a salmonella outbreak linked to kosher chicken. The CDC says 17 people have fallen ill in four states. Eight of those people were hospitalized, and one death was reported in New York. The illnesses started last September and have stretched through this summer. In June, the CDC started investigating after New York health officials determined that several of the ill people had eaten kosher chicken. Lab testing confirmed salmonella in some kosher chicken products and in samples of raw chicken from two facilities.

What to read around the web today

  • A new role for paramedics: treating patients at home. Boston Globe
  • It’s time to measure addiction recovery rates, not just addiction rates. STAT
  • Former USC gynecologist accused of sexually abusing students agrees to suspension of medical license. Los Angeles Times
  • Can plastic tubes stop livers from failing? Unlikely, but a biotech keeps trying. STAT Plus
  • Posters suggesting women can drink while pregnant stir backlash. New York Times

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,


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Thursday, August 30, 2018


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