Friday, November 4, 2016

Morning Rounds by Megan Thielking

Happy Friday, and happy birthday to STAT! We launched our site a year ago today. It's been a wonderful year!  Now, on to the day's big news in science and medicine.

Pennsylvania moves to regulate naturopathic providers

Pennsylvania has joined the growing list of states opting to regulate naturopathic providers like medical doctors. Governor Tom Wolf signed a bill into law yesterday that will reserve the titles naturopathic doctor and ND for individuals who’ve graduated from four-year, post-graduate natural medicine programs that are accredited by the Department of Education. Supporters of the bill say it’ll give patients access to naturopathic providers while protecting them from self-trained practitioners, while opponents say it validates treatments based on shaky or sometimes nonexistent science. For more on the fight over naturopathy, read this.

Keeping researchers accountable for clinical trial results

 The tool keeps tabs on companies, government bodies, and universities that are supposed to report trial results. (trialstracker)

A new online search tool launched yesterday provides the first real-time rankings of major companies and universities for performance in reporting clinical trial results. TrialsTracker, from the Evidence-Based Medicine DataLab at the University of Oxford, continually updates its data from the National Institutes of Health website An investigation by STAT last year found that top institutions aren’t reporting clinical trial results like they’re required to do. The new tool tries to hold research sponsors accountable for posting results on studies of drugs and medical devices — essential info for evidence-based medicine and patient safety.

Companies such as Sanofi, Novartis, and Ranbaxy, identified by the site as having some of the worst records, “can fix this problem very easily — they just have to publish their results,” Dr. Ben Goldacre, a project developer, says. Laws requiring full disclosure “have been widely flouted, and never enforced,” Goldacre adds. “Until policymakers act, public accountability is the only option we have.”

Controversy continues over new medical leader in India

There’s a battle brewing over the new president of India’s most prominent medical ethics body, a peer to the American Medical Association here in the US. Urologist Dr. Ketan Desai was inaugurated two weeks ago as the new leader of the World Medical Association. But Desai has also been accused of criminal conspiracy and corruption. A case filed against the doctor in New Delhi in 2010 alleges he took a bribe of $450,000 from a medical school in exchange for pressuring authorities to allow the school to enroll more students. Now, three surgeons in India have penned an editorial in the BMJ questioning why the WMA allowed a doctor facing corruption charges to step in and lead the ethics body. Desai’s next court date for the 2010 case is today, according to Reuters.

Sponsor content by stat careers

Rapid industry growth and the search for new opportunities

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, from 2014 to 2024, more healthcare jobs will be added than any other group of occupations. Sorting through the projected 2.3 million new jobs on general jobs sites is only going to get more overwhelming. Through STAT CAREERS, you can find health care jobs all over the world, with entry-level to executive positions at the industry’s top companies. Find your next job here.

Inside STAT: Colorado's dignified death bill stirs passion

Megan Igel wants to live, above all else — but she wants options if her brain tumor returns. And a measure on the ballot this month in Colorado could give her those options. Colorado is considering a measure that would allow doctors to prescribe a fatal dose of medicine to terminally ill adults. There are already similar “death with dignity” laws in five other states. A September poll found more than 70 percent of voters in Colorado support the measure. But the initiative has proven divisive — more from STAT contributor Judith Graham here.

Significant hurdles to stop polio's spread in Afghanistan

Afghanistan — one of only two countries in the world that hasn’t ever stopped polio transmission — still faces significant hurdles in its goal to interrupt the virus’s spread by the end of the year, health officials report. The number of wild poliovirus cases reported in the country tumbled 29 percent in 2015 from the year prior. Now, it seems poliovirus circulation is occurring in just a handful of areas in Afghanistan. That’s encouraging news — but health officials say the country remains vulnerable. Instability in the eastern regions of the country is making it more difficult for health care providers to vaccinate children in those areas. Even in areas where providers can give out vaccines, substantial numbers of children are still being missed in polio vaccination campaigns. Vaccines are key to interrupting the spread of the virus, which has no cure.

A pack a day can rack up genetic mutations in lung cells

Every year of smoking a pack of cigarettes a day racks up another 150 genetic mutations in lung cells, according to a new study out in Science. Each of those could be a jumping-off point for cancer, which begins with mutations in a cell’s DNA. Researchers analyzed more than 5,000 tumors of cancer patients who smoked and their peers who never had. They tallied up the mutational signatures of haywire DNA in each of those tumors. Mutations didn’t show up just in lung cells — they also cropped up in tumors in other parts of the body, too. Each year of smoking a pack a day led to an average of 97 mutations in larynx cells, 23 mutations in mouth cells, and 18 mutations in bladder cells. 

What does the future of biopharma look like? 

Industry players are looking to what's ahead for health policy, drug approvals, and medical innovation today at the BioPharma Congress in D.C. On the agenda: Vice President Joe Biden's cancer moonshot, and with it, the establishment of the FDA’s Oncology Center of Excellence. Dr. Richard Pazdur — who runs the center— will be discussing how to make clinical trial designs more efficient. Back in September, Pazdur proposed that the FDA should consider “shifting away from the conventional phase one, phase two, and phase three drug development paradigm to a more seamless approach that could expedite the regulatory pathway, providing earlier access to highly effective therapeutic drugs.”

What to read around the web today

  • More middle school students are dying of suicide than car crashes. Reuters
  • Big hospital network cracks down on right to sue. KQED
  • An informercial for a sleep pillow is getting a $1 million wake-up call over its medical claims. Washington Post 

More reads from STAT

Thanks for reading! Back bright and early on Monday, 


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