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FDA decision on HPV vaccine could come today

The FDA is slated to decide as soon as today on whether to approve the HPV vaccine for people between the ages of 27 and 45. Gardasil, which is manufactured by Merck and protects against the human papillomavirus, is currently approved for older kids and young adults. Most insurers won't cover it for people over 26. Some public health advocates are say the move might boost the effort to prevent HPV-caused cancers. The vaccine is recommended before kids become sexually active, but there's hope that it can also offer some protection for adults who may have been exposed to the virus.

Health researchers win MacArthur genius grants

The new winners of the MacArthur genius grant have just been announced — and it’s no surprise that a number of the fellows work in health and medicine. Here’s a look at three of them:

  • Chemist Livia Eberlin is developing imaging methods that can more quickly and accurately show the difference between healthy tissue and diseased tissue during surgery.

  • Health economist Amy Finkelstein helps to unravel the deep complexities of health care policy with studies on private health insurance, Medicaid, and Medicare — and comes up with data-driven ideas to streamline those systems.

  • Epidemiologist Gregg Gonsalves spent three decades as an HIV/AIDS activist, working to connect the patient community with researchers. His own research has included how to minimize the number of HIV-positive patients who stop receiving care.

Health workers in Ebola response attacked in DRC

Health workers are on high alert after three from the Red Cross were attacked while responding to the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Aid groups say that the workers were attacked while carrying out a burial for a person who died from Ebola, and two of the three were seriously wounded. The areas where Ebola has spread are in a conflict zone, which has created serious challenges in the effort to treat patients and stem the spread of the virus. 

Inside STAT: Why is a PAC spotlighting high drug prices sinking millions into unwinnable races?

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(Alex hogan / stat)

Patients for Affordable Drugs has poured at least $8 million to highlight high drug prices in midterm race — but a significant chunk of that has gone to campaigns where the money won't make a difference. The group says the money can still send a message: Politicians can't run campaigns funded by drug companies without consequences. Not everyone is convinced that making politicians hesitate before accepting a check from pharma will happen any time soon. “It’s going to be years before somebody runs in this state or that with a major biotech presence [and says] they’re not going to accept [drug industry] funding," says Harvard's Bob Blendon, who studies the politics of health care. STAT's Rebecca Robbins and Lev Facher have the story here

The length of this year's flu season could depend on where you live

Flu season is coming — and how long it lasts might vary depending on where you live, a new study suggests. The study, published in Science, suggests that flu transmission might last for longer stretches in large cities. “If there’s lots of people and transportation patterns frequently bring them together, it helps the virus find new hosts,” study author Benjamin Dalziel of Oregon State University in Corvallis tells STAT. Smaller cities, on the other hand, might experience a shorter but more explosive season. That suggests a one-size-fits-all approach won’t cut it — small cities might need to focus on grappling with a lot of sick people over a short time, while big cities might focus on stemming flu’s spread.

Juul files patent complaint against e-cig makers

Juul — the e-cigarette giant that was just the target of a surprise FDA raid — is alleging that other companies are infringing on its patents. In a complaint filed with the International Trade Commission, Juul says 15 companies are illegally using its e-cigarette technologies, and it's is asking the ITC to ban the importation, sales, and marketing of those products. The company says the complaint also ties into its effort to prevent minors from using their products, which the FDA has said the company must do. Juul says that while it has a strict age gate for e-cig products sold on its website, the alleged knockoffs have little to no age verification process and use flavors that could appeal to kids.

What to read around the web today

  • Male doctors said my ‘female’ cancer was incurable. Then a woman took command and gave me hope. STAT
  • Proposal: Let's create a frozen Noah's Ark for helpful germs. NPR
  • Without safety net of kids or spouse, 'elder orphans' need fearless fallback plan. Kaiser Health News
  • Trump's administration to step up oversight of hospital watchdogs. Wall Street Journal
  • Bluebird Bio’s beta thalassemia gene therapy is already under review in Europe. STAT Plus

Thanks for reading! Have a wonderful weekend, 

Megan

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Friday, October 5, 2018

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