Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Morning Rounds by Megan Thielking

Here's what you need to know to get ahead of the day's health news. 

Exclusive: Sexual harassment inside biotech's biggest hedge fund

Sam Isaly, the founder of biotech’s largest and most powerful hedge fund, has for years perpetuated a toxic culture of sexual harassment, former employees told STAT, routinely subjecting young female assistants to pornography in the workplace, lewd jokes, and pervasive sexist comments. One woman said on several occasions, she glimpsed hardcore pornography playing on the large screens that dominated the trading room floor of the $15 billion fund. Isaly denied allegations of sexual harassment and pornography in the workplace, pausing after each question before saying “no” or “not to my recollection.”

During an interview with Isaly, the firm’s head of human relations, Kirsten Kearns, first said there had never been complaints about Isaly. Later, Kearns said that the firm had investigated claims against Isaly and had concluded none rose to the level of “a sexually egregious behavior.” Moments after the story was published last night, OrbiMed sent a statement saying it takes the allegations seriously and had hired an investigator to look into them. STAT'S Damian Garde has the story here

FDA urges recall of medication tied to lung and liver injuries

The FDA is investigating a growing number of reported problems involving Limbrel, a drug that’s commonly used to control osteoarthritis. Health officials have received 194 reports of adverse events involving the drug, 30 of which were found to be likely associated with the product. The agency has relayed those concerns about potential serious health risks to the drug’s manufacturer, Primus Pharmaceuticals. And while the FDA has urged the company to carry out a voluntary recall, Primus hasn’t done so.

The alarming practice of jailing patients who can't pay medical bills

A concerning new report finds that it's still common for hospitals to forcibly detain patients who can’t pay for their care across much of sub-Saharan Africa and other parts of the world. It’s difficult to pinpoint how often it happens, but the new report from the think tank Chatham House estimates that there could be hundreds of thousands of people detained worldwide each year. Many of those detentions come after emergency care that’s provided to people such as accident victims and pregnant women who are experiencing complications in birth. Those detentions can last for months and can discourage patients from seeking other kinds of medical care.

The authors say the practice is a clear violation of international human rights standards and are calling on governments to both clearly ban the practice and come up with financial solutions to help hospitals cover their costs when patients can’t pay.

Sponsor content by Nationwide Children's Hospital

A zip code should not determine a child's health

Where you live. Neighborhood safety. Educational opportunities. Health care accessibility.

Nationwide Children’s Hospital and its civic partners recognize these factors impact communities’ overall health. The Healthy Neighborhoods Healthy Families (HNHF) program targets five impact areas: affordable housing, education, health and wellness, safe and accessible neighborhoods, and workforce development. Learn more about our progress.

Repeal of birth control mandate garners 500,000 comments

Reproductive rights advocates have sent in more than half a million comments about President Trump’s decision to roll back the birth control mandate. Back in October, the Trump administration rescinded a regulation that required nearly all employers to include birth control coverage in the health insurance plans they offered to employees. The rule is already in effect, but because of the way it was rolled back, health officials still had to open the plan for public comment. Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and reproductive rights groups rallied people to voice their opinions in the public comments, which closed last night.  

This temporary tattoo is made out of living cells


a new fashion just in time for the holiday season. (mit)

Engineers have created the world’s most high-tech temporary tattoo using a 3-D printer with ink made of living cells. They started by engineering cells to light up when they’re exposed to certain stimuli. Then, researchers stirred those cells together with hydrogel and nutrients to create an ink that gets printed one layer at a time. The researchers printed those cells onto a transparent patch in a tree pattern, with cells in each branch engineered to respond to a different chemical. If the patch gets stuck on skin that’s coated with one of those chemicals, that particular part of the tree lights up. Now, the researchers are looking at how that approach could be used to create cells engineered to produce therapeutic compounds that get released over time.

Questions about HHS nominee Alex Azar? We have answers

Alex Azar, President Trump’s pick to lead HHS, is still waiting for his official confirmation hearing, where he'll get grilled about his plans for the agency. But in advance of that date, reporters from STAT’s D.C. bureau are hosting a chat about the nominee at 1 p.m. ET today on everything from drug prices to how Azar would approach women's health. Want to peer into the crystal ball with us? Register here and get your questions answered.

How data can help tackle the opioid crisis

Coders are convening today to come up with creative new ways to use data to address the opioid epidemic as part of the HHS Code-A-Thon. The agency has handed over more than a dozen health data sets to participants to help kick off the brainstorming process, and today, it’s coding crunch time. The challenge is focused on three areas: improving access to treatment and recovery, identifying the people at risk of opioid misuse, and predicting the supply and movement of illegal opioids. The agency is also hosting a series of speeches — which HHS promises will be “TED Talk style” — on the same topic. Sign up to watch live here.

What to read around the web today

More reads from STAT

The latest from STAT Plus

  • These companies want to transform our gut bugs into drugs. How close are they to market?. 
  • Revance ‘Better Botox’ wrinkle reducer scores pair of clinical trial wins. 

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,


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