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Morning Rounds Shraddha Chakradhar

Poll: Many Americans concerned about FDA process for Alzheimer's drug

A new survey from STAT and the Harris Poll finds that two-thirds of those familiar with Biogen's Alzheimer's drug Aduhelm believe it will be effective. This number dropped to about half among those who had only heard of the approval but were not as informed on the details behind the drug. The survey, which queried more than 2,100 U.S. adults between June 11 and June 13, also found that people were divided over the price of the drug (estimated to be $56,000 a year before insurance or other discounts) and that respondents were concern about the regulatory process behind the drug's approval, since the FDA granted Aduhelm an "accelerated approval" based on surrogate endpoints. The findings highlight the ongoing controversy over the approval of Aduhelm, especially as physicians and payers now weigh how to work with the drug. Read more here

U.S. to invest more than $3 billion to find a single pill to treat Covid-19

The U.S. is investing more than $3 billion toward finding new antiviral pills to treat Covid-19. Scientists have floated the idea of a single pill to target SARS-CoV-2, in much the way Tamiflu works to fight the flu, but the idea has thus far seemed elusive, with lack of funding playing a role. But this new influx of cash, which will be shared by the NIH, BARDA, and other federal agencies, may change that. As part of the plan, the NIH will prioritize testing antiviral candidates in Phase 2 trials. More than $1 billion of the total funding will also go toward creating new antiviral drug discovery centers, whose purpose will initially be to find therapies for coronaviruses before expanding to other viruses that could trigger pandemics.  

The ACA survives its third challenge in federal court

The Affordable Care Act survived yet another — its third — challenge in the Supreme Court yesterday. The majority opinion ruled in a 7-2 vote that the plaintiff did not have the right to bring their lawsuit to SCOTUS. The lawsuit centered on the individual mandate contained within a previous version of the law, a provision that was removed by Congress through a tax bill in 2017. Plaintiffs argued that because the mandate was no longer a feature of the ACA — one that was upheld as a tax before — it meant that the entire law was unconstitutional. According to the Biden administration, had the ACA, been struck down, some 31 million people would have lost health insurance. 

Inside STAT: Clinicians open their notes to patients in grand experiment in medical care


A provision under the 21st Century Cures Act now stipulates that, as of this past April, physicians have to make most medical notes they take about patient visits available for them to see. This departure from the norm — where patients had to ask for records and could see some information through online portals — may be a game changer for patients and physicians alike. Patients might feel more empowered about their own health. Perhaps more importantly, with the knowledge that patients may now be privy to what's being written about them, clinicians might make a more conscious effort to be accurate and sensitive in their jottings. STAT contributor Elizabeth Preston has more here

Gender bias in patents may mean less biomedical innovation for women

Gender gaps in patenting may mean fewer biomedical innovations aimed specifically at women, a new study suggests. Previous research has shown that patent awards disproportionately go to men, and in the new study, scientists showed that the proportion of female inventors being awarded patents increased from around 6% to more than 16% in the past three decades. At the same time, researchers also found that female inventors were 35% more likely than male inventors to patent ideas that are for female consumers. Taken together, these findings mean that many solutions for women’s health never see the light of day. “It’s the loss of solutions that could help 50% of the population in the world,” one expert tells STAT's Claudia López Lloreda, who has more here

The hospitals where Black Covid-19 patients get admitted may determine mortality risk

The hospitals where Black patients with Covid-19 get care may explain the outsized mortality rates in this population, according to a new study. Black patients have accounted for one-third of all Covid deaths, despite only making up 13% of the U.S. population. The new study looked at data from more than 44,000 Medicare recipients admitted to one of nearly 1,200 hospitals. Even after adjusting for patients' health factors and their socioeconomic demographics, hospitals seemed to be the biggest factor. Black patients were admitted to hospitals with lower survival rates across all races whereas white patients tended to be at hospitals with higher survival rates. Researchers simulated what would happen if Black patients were admitted to the same hospitals as white patients, and observed a small drop in Black patients' mortality rate. The study did not look at what about hospitals could be leading to the observed differences. 

Correction: An item yesterday on CureVac's trial results misstated the agency with which the Germany company had made a deal to provide millions of vaccine doses. That agency is the European Commission. 
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (Español: 1-888-628-9454; deaf and hard of hearing: 1-800-799-4889) or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

Covid-19 in the U.S.

New cases yesterday (two-week average): 13,172
New deaths yesterday (two-week average): 322

What to read around the web today

  • Pandemic swells Medicaid enrollment to 80 million people, a ‘high-water mark’. Kaiser Health News
  • Hidden Black scientists proved the polio vaccine worked. Scientific American
  • Athira Pharma CEO placed on leave amid allegations of altered images in her research papers. STAT+
  • The Delta variant could create “two Americas” of Covid, experts warn. BuzzFeed News
  • Billions spent on prescription drug ads may have increased Medicare spending. STAT+
  • Mumbai doctor recounts harrowing Covid-19 surge. Associated Press

Thanks for reading! Wishing everyone a happy Juneteenth tomorrow and a happy Father's Day to those celebrating on Sunday!  

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