Monday, June 26, 2017

Morning Rounds by Megan Thielking

Good morning, folks! Welcome to the working week, and welcome to Morning Rounds. Here's what you need to know about health and medicine this morning. 

Cholera outbreak in Yemen exceeds 200,000 cases

The cholera outbreak in Yemen has exceeded 200,000 cases, with roughly 5,000 new cases of the bacterial disease reported every day. More than 1,300 people — 25 percent of them children — have died of cholera since the outbreak began two months ago. The leaders of the WHO and UNICEF are calling it “the worst cholera outbreak in the world.” Right now, global aid groups are going door to door to give families information on how to clean and store drinking water to avoid contracting cholera, which can be spread through contaminated water. They’re also providing medical care and keeping a close watch on the outbreak’s spread. But those response efforts are complicated by ongoing conflict in Yemen, which has left 14.5 million people without reliable access to clean water or sanitation.

Purdue defends secret marketing records in court

Today, lawyers for OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma will try to convince a panel of three judges in the Kentucky court of appeals that secret records tied to the marketing of the drug shouldn't be released to the public. The company is seeking to overturn a lower court decision in May 2016 ordering the release of sealed records that include the deposition of Dr. Richard Sackler, the former president of Purdue and a member of the family that owns the privately held company. That ruling was the result of a motion brought by STAT to unseal the documents. The appeals court judges will listen to oral arguments in the case for a half hour today, but they're not expected to decide on the matter until weeks after the hearing. Check back at STAT for news on the hearing today. 

See how the Senate bill might affect your premiums

GOP leaders in the Senate are continuing their maneuvering this morning to try to rally enough support for its health care bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act. Five Republican senators have said they won’t accept the bill as it’s written right now, but Majority Leader Mitch McConnell might still be pushing for a vote this week ahead of the July 4 recess.

And while the rest of us anxiously await the Congressional Budget Office report on the bill expected out today, the experts over at the Kaiser Family Foundation have come up with new estimates of the bill’s impact for consumers to explore.  They’ve created an interactive map that lets you zoom in on your county, select your age range and income, and see your estimated health insurance premiums and tax credits in 2020 under the new bill. It also lets you stack those numbers against what you’d likely pay under Obamacare in 2020. 

Sponsor content by Shire

Once-Daily ADHD Treatment Option Approved by FDA

Did you know approximately 50 to 66 percent of children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in childhood continue to have symptoms as adults? As we advance our understanding of ADHD, it is also important to expand the treatment options available to healthcare professionals to help address patient needs. Find out more about a new treatment option for ADHD. Intended for U.S. audiences. 

Planned Parenthood's leader takes on Tom Price

Some of the biggest names in science and medicine gathered over the past few days for the Aspen Spotlight Ideas conference, and the contrast between them couldn't have been more striking. Here's a dispatch from the event from STAT's Executive Editor Rick Berke:

  • HHS Secretary Tom Price gamely defended President Trump as an advocate for NIH funding. And the challenges of his job amid the health care turbulence in D.C. weren't lost on anyone when the moderator closed the session by saying "Thank you for being with us — and good luck.''
  • Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, excoriated Price onstage shortly after his speech. Richards said she was "stunned'' by how the administration has shut out women in crafting the legislation.
  • The speaker who seemed to charm everyone was Jon Batiste, the bandleader of the "Late Show with Stephen Colbert." He said that while he doesn't "have time to go to medical school,'' he works to spread the word about music as therapy. 

Inside STAT: Eye trouble becomes a medical mystery


(Molly Ferguson for stat)

Priya Raja struggled for months with watery, red eyes and sensitivity to light. It was hard for her to look at a computer screen or focus on printed words. Antibiotic eye ointment from her primary care doctor didn’t help. An ophthalmologist found that the film of tears that should cover her whole eye was patchy. Dyed eye drops revealed there was an open sore on top of her iris and pupil. Other parts of her cornea had broken down, too. An antiviral medicine and antibacterial eye drops helped for a few months — but then the problem flared up again. Piece together the problem in our latest medical mystery from Allison Bond — read here.  

Bernie Sanders rallies opposition to opioid funding

Sen. Bernie Sanders hit the road this weekend to convince moderate Republicans in Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania to rally against the health care bill, which calls for Medicaid cuts that would jeopardize addiction treatment. At one rally, Trump voter Leigh Ann Wilson — whose daughter’s struggle to find substance-use disorder treatment was chronicled by STAT — urged Republicans to protect addiction treatment before moving forward. “Trump said was he trying to get this epidemic under control,” Wilson says. “I’m hopeful Trump will do the right thing – and have Senators come to the right solution. It’s too important not to get right the first time.”

Did ancient plastic water bottles poison this group? 

Archaeologists at the National Museum of Natural History who were curious about what caused the health decline of an ancient population of Californian Indians ran an interesting new experiment to find out more. They recreated two types of ancient water bottles made by the Californian Indians, who used a material called bitumen to seal their water and food containers. Bitumen is made of chemicals that modern-day humans encounter through burning fossil fuels and tobacco smoke. The researchers stuck closely to the manufacturing process — they used a bird bone awl to weave the water baskets, heated the bitumen with volcanic pebbles, and applied it to the basket using an animal bone. During that process, they tested the air quality and found it released harmful compounds at the same concentration as cigarette smoke. The chemicals also seeped into olive oil stored in the containers. The researchers say those are potential clues to what drove the population's decline in health. 

What to read around the web today

  • John Oliver takes a jab at anti-vaxxers. Time
  • As drug deaths rise, St. Louis County may use portable morgue meant for disasters. St. Louis Post-Dispatch
  • The cost of health care is Americans' top financial concern. Gallup

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