Morning Rounds Shraddha Chakradhar

Netflix offers a preview of Goop series — and critics pounce

Goop, the lifestyle brand from Gywneth Paltrow, is launching a six-episode series called “The Goop Lab” later this month, highlighting wellness issues, including female sexuality and longevity. But a new, provocative trailer for the Netflix series, which mentions energy healing and psychic mediums, is already being skewered by health experts. Dr. Jen Gunter, an OB-GYN and frequent Goop critic, repeated her concerns about the company promoting unproven and unscientific therapies. Dr. Timothy Caulfield, who hosts a pseudoscience-debunking documentary series that was recently pulled from Netflix, tweeted that the company shouldn't “contribute to the spread of misinformation.” In the trailer, Goop Chief Content Officer Elise Loehnen says the company tries to “explore ideas that may seem out there or too scary.” “The Goop Lab” premieres Jan. 24.

Inside STAT: The inside story of how scientists across three continents produced an Ebola vaccine

Health workers speak with people awaiting medical treatment in a former Ebola holding center, in Monrovia, Liberia in 2015. (JOHN MOORE/GETTY IMAGES)

The approval of a highly anticipated Ebola vaccine last month should never have happened. Long before the 2014 outbreak in West Africa put the deadly disease on the map, many scientists poured their hearts into developing a vaccine they hoped would one day help people. And when the outbreak broke out, the scientists readily offered it to the WHO, which thought it too premature to deploy in the emergency. But as the death toll rapidly grew, the balance tipped, and the vaccine was tested — setting it on the road to FDA approval three years later. In an exclusive new feature, one that STAT’s Helen Branswell says she has been collecting material on for the past 15 years, she recounts the work that went into developing the vaccine across three continents and multiple scientists. Read the story here

Health care positions dominate new best jobs list 

U.S. News and World Report is out with its latest best jobs list — which looks at seven factors, including median salary and stress level — and health care positions earned top marks all around. Here’s more: 

  • Overall trends: Of the 100 best jobs, health care jobs earned four of the top five spots. Dentist was at number two (after software developer), followed by physician assistant, orthodontist, and nurse practitioner. 

  • Best-paying jobs: The five best-paying jobs are all in health care, including anesthesiologist, surgeon, and orthodontist (all with a median salary of $208,000). 

  • Within health care: The top three jobs within health care last year include dentist, physician assistant, and orthodontist. Pharmacist, rehabilitation counselor, and radiation therapist were toward the bottom of this list. 

Patients with VA insurance less likely to skip medication due to costs

Those insured through Veterans Affairs are less likely than those with other coverage to skip taking their medicines as a cost-cutting measure, according to a new study. Using data from 2013-2017, researchers found that around 6% of the more than 2,500 VA-insured individuals in the study didn’t take their medications as prescribed due to costs. In contrast, almost 11% of the nearly 90,000 privately insured individuals in the study did the same. The difference is especially stark given that VA-insured individuals tend to be older, in worse health, and have lower incomes — and therefore likelier to have more trouble paying for medications. Other insurance systems could model themselves on the VA — which uses a national drug formulary and negotiates lower prices with companies — as a way to also reduce health costs for their beneficiaries, the authors suggest. 

Effects of Zika in infants could show up several months after birth

As scientists seek to understand how prenatal exposure to Zika affects infants, a new study suggests that the effects of being exposed to the virus in the womb could manifest into the first year after birth, and even without signs of microcephaly. Scientists looked at data from 70 Colombian infants born to mothers infected with Zika when they were pregnant. At birth, the infants had normal head circumference sizes and no other signs of congenital Zika infection. These infants were then tested on their mobility, social cognition, and other markers of development at least once between when they were 4-18 months of age, and scientists found that the infants’ development, on average, declined the older they got. The CDC already suggests that infants born to Zika-infected mothers be monitored long term, and the study’s findings continue to support this recommendation, the authors write. 

Health care paperwork racks up more than $800 billion in costs in 2017

Around 34% of health care costs in the U.S. in 2017 — for a total of $812 billion — was for administrative paperwork, according to new research. When considered as the cost per person, the U.S. spent nearly five times as much on paperwork that year than what Canada spent. The U.S. also vastly outspent Canada in a range of categories, including insurers’ overhead, hospital administration, and physicians’ insurance. The study also found that since 1999, administrative costs in the U.S. have increased 3.2%, most of which is due to an increase in insurers’ overhead costs. The findings may provide further evidence that proponents of a nationalized health care system could use, as they often cite the exorbitant costs associated with a private system, given that many insurance companies and hospitals underwrite administrative costs into their fees. 

What to read around the web today

  • A world without pain. The New Yorker
  • Biotech 2020 preview: Takeover targets, notable drug launches, and genome editing readouts. STAT Plus
  • Judge signals his approval of landmark USC settlement to ex-gynecologist’s patients. Los Angeles Times
  • Giving birth where the family is. The New York Times
  • The high cost of having a baby in America. The Atlantic

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,


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Tuesday, January 7, 2020


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