Morning Rounds

Pfizer delays hefty price hikes after talk with Trump

Under pressure from President Trump, Pfizer has agreed to delay lofty price hikes that just went into effect on more than 40 drugs last week. Trump tweeted last night that he'd talked with Pfizer CEO Ian Read and HHS Secretary Alex Azar about the administration's plan to bring down drug prices. Pfizer's price hikes — most of which were more than 9 percent — came after Trump announced in May that some drug makers were planning to voluntarily make "massive" price cuts. The big catch to the news: Pfizer is only delaying the price hikes until Jan. 1 or "when the president's blueprint goes into effect," whichever comes first

Trump's drug czar nominee heads before lawmakers

President Trump’s pick to serve as drug czar is headed before the Senate Judiciary Committee this morning. Jim Carroll has been serving as acting director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy since February, but hasn’t been confirmed by the Senate as the permanent leader. Democrats have criticized Carroll — an attorney who has worked in Trump's budget office and the George W. Bush administration — for his lack of experience in public health and addiction policy. Expect lawmakers to press him for details on how he'll handle efforts to combat the opioid crisis if confirmed.

A drug maker gave Kim Kardashian $500,000 to promote its drug. Here's how it paid off

Remember the ruckus caused by Kim Kardashian's promoted social media posts for a morning sickness drug three years ago? It paid off pretty well for the drug's maker, Duchesnay, STAT's Ed Silverman reports. A quick refresher: U.S. and Canadian regulators issued a stern warning in 2015 because Kardashian's posts touting Diclegis on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook that summer didn't include any risk information. It seems that the blunder, which was later corrected, generated even more publicity for Diclegis. By fall 2015, sales jumped 21 percent to nearly $41.7 million, according to data from IQVIA, a market research firm. The cost to Duchesnay? Just $500,000. 

A new look at fertility rates in the U.S. 

The CDC released new national data this morning on U.S. fertility rates between 2011 and 2015. Here’s a quick look at the numbers:

  • Just over half of women are in their 20s the first time they give birth. And by age 44, 85 percent of women have given birth.

  • About 63 percent of men were in their 20s the first time they fathered a child. Roughly 80 percent have fathered a child by age 44.

  • One-third of women give birth again within three years of their first birth. Another one-third of women have a second birth more than three years after their first birth.

Inside STAT: You can't tell a disease by a patient's race

In Jennifer W. Tsai's first year of medical school, she walked into a study room to find a Venn diagram on the whiteboard titled "Diseases Drake is at risk for developing." The two intersecting circles were titled "Black Daddy" and "White Jewish Mommy." "What struck me was how crudely a hypothetical patient had been reduced to his race," Tsai writes in a new First Opinion for STAT. Race associations are common in medical training, and Tsai says it's one of the "time-saving tricks" to study for licensing exams. But they're oversimplified and might harm patients by teaching doctors to only think inside a box when diagnosing disease, Tsai argues. More here

Testosterone use fell after FDA safety warning


Testosterone Prescribing in the United States, 2002-2016. (JAMA)

Testosterone use has tumbled in the years since the FDA warned the drug might increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, researchers report in JAMA. Testosterone use tripled between 2001 and 2011 in the U.S.  But in 2014, the FDA issued a safety warning after two studies reported that testosterone use was linked to a greater likelihood of having a heart attack or stroke. From 2013 to 2016, testosterone prescriptions fell by more than half. One limitation: The study looked at men with commercial health insurance who obtained testosterone prescriptions, so it doesn’t account for testosterone that’s not paid for by insurance. ​

Experts search for new ideas to improve environmental health

Environmental health experts are gathering in D.C. today to talk about innovative ways to protect the environment — and in doing so, protect human health. Environmental health and human health intersect in many ways, from transportation policy to agricultural practice. So the National Academies formed the Environmental Health Matters Initiative, which is working to find ways for different sectors to collaborate with the shared goal of improving health. The panel is holding a public session today to hear about the best ways to move forward with its work. Tune in live here starting at 8:30 ET. 

What to read around the web today

  • Mental health is a college stumbling block. For students of color, it can be a wall. Boston Globe
  • Administration slashes grants to help Americans get Affordable Care Act coverage. Washington Post
  • Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s pick for court, has left trail of opinions on health care and pharma issues. STAT
  • Dying organs restored to life in novel experiments. New York Times
  • Could FDA use off-label data for drug approvals? It’s possible, agency official says. STAT Plus

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,


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Wednesday, July 11, 2018


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