Morning Rounds Megan Thielking

Overdose deaths have fallen for six months


the circles show predicted totals, and the black line shows reported totals. (cdc)

Fatal drug overdoses have fallen for six months in a row and are down 2.8 percent from their peak, according to the latest preliminary federal data. While it's too soon to know whether the curve of fatal drug overdoses is cresting for good or if this is just a blip, experts said they hope that recent policy changes and initiatives that aimed to expand addiction treatment, reduce new incidents of substance use disorders, and prevent fatal overdoses are having an impact. But they also caution that there have been previous slowdowns in overdose deaths that were only temporary. 

Top food officials talk 'lab-grown meat'

Top officials from the FDA and the agriculture department — including agency leaders Scott Gottlieb and Sonny Perdue — are meeting today and tomorrow to talk about how to regulate "lab-grown meat" and other food made from cells plucked from animals. This morning, they'll dive in by talking about the potential hazards that need to be considered when it comes to production. And tomorrow, they'll explore how lab-grown meat should be labeled, whether manufacturers should be able to make health claims to market their products, and whether labels should explain the difference between foods created from animal cell cultures and conventional meat.

Inside STAT: Vaccine in hand, Ebola response team struggles to track those who need it 

Nurses working with the World Health Organization prepared to administer Ebola vaccines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in May. (UNIOR D. KANNAH/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

The Ebola response team in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is having more and more trouble keeping track of where the virus is spreading. More than half of recent cases are people who weren't on the list of contacts of previous Ebola patients. And efforts to look back and pinpoint how those people contracted the virus are increasingly failing. That threatens efforts to contain the virus — and undermines how effective an experimental Ebola vaccine being used there can be. The vaccination strategy relies on knowing who was exposed to Ebola, so they and their contacts can be vaccinated. As one expert put it, the vaccine "can't be given to people you don't know exist." STAT's Helen Branswell has the story here

Antipsychotics used to treat ICU delirium don't help

Two commonly used antipsychotic drugs don't work well to treat delirium in ICU patients, according to new results from a large clinical trial. Antipsychotics have been used to treat delirium — which can cause problems with attention, awareness, and agitation — for decades without a clear consensus on how well they work. So researchers gave 566 ICU patients with delirium either haloperidol, ziprasidone, or a placebo infusion. There wasn't any significant difference in how long delirium lasted, time in the ICU or hospital, or mortality three months out between the three groups. The authors say their findings add to the evidence that shows there's a clear need for better treatments. 

Pennsylvania Supreme Court hears paid sick leave case

Pennsylvania's Supreme Court is slated to hear arguments today on a controversial Pittsburgh law that requires employers in the city to offer paid sick leave. Supporters of the law say it’s a public health issue that falls under its jurisdiction. But a restaurant and hospitality industry trade group and area businesses quickly challenged the law after it passed in 2015, calling it “an illegal exercise of municipal authority.” While the court fight plays out, Pittsburgh has had to put the measure on hold. Philadelphia, which passed a similar law only months earlier, has been able to enforce its policy.

Study ties help from community health workers to fewer hospital days

Community health workers help high-risk patients tackle issues from food to housing insecurity — and new research suggests that work might also contribute to fewer days in the hospital among some patients. Researchers ran a randomized trial with nearly 600 patients who lived in high-poverty areas in Philadelphia and had at least two or more chronic diseases, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. All of them received standard primary care, and half also had six months of support from a community health worker. Patients with help from a community health worker were nearly twice as likely to report high-quality primary care and spent fewer total days in the hospital than the primary care-only group.

What to read around the web today

  • What's life like after depression? Surprisingly, little is known. New York Times
  • PhRMA’s on track to spend a record sum on lobbying this year. STAT Plus 
  • Politicians hop aboard the "Medicare for All" train, destination unknown. Kaiser Health News
  • Opinion: Smartphones should fuel the next generation of tuberculosis care. STAT
  • Obamacare shapes opioid grant spending. Associated Press

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,


Have a news tip or comment?

Email Me

Tuesday, October 23, 2018


Facebook   Twitter   YouTube   Instagram

1 Exchange Pl, Suite 201, Boston, MA 02109
©2018, All Rights Reserved.
I no longer wish to receive STAT emails
Update Email Preferences | Contact Us
5cP.gif?contact_status=<<Contact Status>>
_icu.png?id=<<STAT Plus Subs>>&campaign=%7C4972%7C&data=<<Email Address>>_itu.png