Morning Rounds Shraddha Chakradhar

U.S. steps up response to coronavirus outbreak

The coronavirus outbreak that emerged from China has already spurred a lot of global action, including a travel ban on foreign nationals coming to the U.S. from China. But such “social distancing” measures may come at a cost, experts warn. Here’s the latest: 

  • First death outside China: The Philippines yesterday reported its first coronavirus death, the first to be recorded outside China. A 44-year old Chinese man from Wuhan died after developing severe pneumonia. His 38-year-old companion has also tested positive for the virus. 

  • The latest figures: 362 people have died and the case count has risen to more than 17,300. 

  • The outlook: A top WHO official thinks it’s not too late to stop the outbreak. Dr. Mike Ryan tells STAT that China is making a huge effort in containing the spread of the virus, buying the world precious lead time.

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to fund 30 patient groups in a bid to tackle rare disease

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative today announced funding grants that will help 30 different patient-led groups advance research on various rare diseases. The initiative — which was set up in 2016 with a $3 billion budget and the ambitious goal of curing, preventing, or otherwise managing all diseases — had initially decided to only fund 10 groups dedicated to fighting rare disease. But after receiving nearly 300 applications last year, the initiative decided to triple the number of recipients, giving each $450,000 over the next two years to put toward resources and training. Among the funded groups: The Hermansky-Pudlak Syndrome Network, which focuses on a hereditary disorder that causes albinism, visual impairment, and prolonged bleeding, and the NEC Society, which works to prevent an intestinal disorder in infants known as necrotizing enterocolitis.

As cigarette smoking among teens has dropped, vaping has increased

A new analysis of youth smoking trends finds that even as less teenagers are smoking cigarettes, the use of e-cigarettes has spiked. Between 2011-2018, teens who were surveyed reported smoking fewer days in 2018 than in 2011. For instance, half of respondents said they smoked at least 10 days in the previous month — in 2018, around 38% reported doing so. Over the study duration, girls and those in high school also tended to try their first cigarette at an older age than those in 2011. But the share of those who said they used e-cigarettes increased between 2014-2018: 1 in 5 teens said they vaped at least 10 days in 2014, but more than 40% said so in 2018. Proportions of those who vaped at least 20 days and every day over the course of the previous month also increased. 

Inside STAT: Employers haven’t fought to lower drug prices — until now


Legislation aiming to reduce drug prices has thus far focused on changes to federal programs such as Medicare. But Walmart, Pepsi, and other large companies provide employer-sponsored health insurance to more than 150 million Americans, making them the largest footers of health bills. Now, these and a coalition of other Fortune 500 companies also want in on the drug pricing debate. The coalition brings together various health- and employer-centric groups, and hopes that lawmakers will think about drug pricing policies that will affect the most Americans. “Someone needs to represent the sector that is actually paying most of the bill,” says Bill Kramer, executive director for national health policy at the Pacific Business Group on Health, one of the members of the new group. STAT Plus subscribers can read more from STAT’s Nicholas Florko here

Naloxone access skyrocketed after new prescription-free policy 

Naloxone dispensing in Ohio rose by more than 2,300% after a new policy allowed pharmacists to dispense the opioid overdose reversal drug without a prescription. State lawmakers approved the legislation in 2015 in response to Ohio’s high overdose rates, which was then second-highest in the nation. Looking at data between July 2014 to January 2017, scientists found that naloxone dispensing spiked from 191 orders before the policy to more than 4,600 in the years after its implementation. Three large pharmacy chains increased their dispensing of naloxone by more than 3,200%, suggesting a widespread uptake of the new law. At the same time, the analysis found that those residing in low-employment and high-poverty counties were between two and three times more likely to have access to naloxone under the new policy.  

Kentucky’s only Planned Parenthood regains abortion license after three years

Late last week, Kentucky’s only Planned Parenthood clinic was given a provisional license to resume operations, including performing abortions, after more than three years of being forced to halt the procedure. In 2016, former Republican Gov. Matt Bevin ordered the facility to stop providing abortions, which left only one provider in the state. The case had been tied up in courts since. Soon after the current governor, Democrat Andy Beshear, took office in December, his government — which supports abortion rights — told the Planned Parenthood facility that it was working on rescinding Bevin’s order. Beginning in March, the Louisville, Ky.-based facility can resume offering all reproductive health procedures.  

What to read around the web today

  • Teens find a big loophole in the new flavored vaping ban. The New York Times
  • FDA approves first treatment for peanut allergy, but commercial use still an open question. STAT Plus
  • As caucus day nears, Iowa voters guided by big health care changes. NPR
  • Boston area startups making slow progress in fight against hearing loss. The Boston Globe
  • Some with disabilities can live on their own with a little help. But Virginia is falling behind on its promises to do more. The Daily Press

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,


Have a news tip or comment?

Email Me

Monday, February 3, 2020


Facebook   Twitter   YouTube   Instagram

1 Exchange Pl, Suite 201, Boston, MA 02109
©2020, All Rights Reserved.
I no longer wish to receive STAT emails
Update Email Preferences | Contact Us
5cP.gif?contact_status=<<Contact Status>>