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Morning Rounds

Patients who received kidneys with hepatitis C cured of the infection

Twenty patients who received kidney transplants from deceased donors who had hepatitis C have been cured of the condition, doctors at Penn Medicine report. Here are the details: 

  • The background: Back in 2016, researchers launched a clinical trial to study kidney transplants from donors with hepatitis C into patients who weren't infected, but were waiting for a kidney. Infected organs typically aren't used for transplant. Patients in the study were treated with antiviral therapy to treat hepatitis C after the transplant.
  • The findings: In new study results published in Annals of Internal Medicine, the research team behind the trial says the 20 patients have kidney function that's similar to that of patients who received transplants from donors without hepatitis C. The study includes six-month results for 10 patients and 12-month results for the other 10. 
  • The next steps: There's still a need for larger studies that follow patients over a longer period of time. The research team is also running a similar trial with heart transplant patients

FDA reconsiders how it evaluates addiction treatments

The FDA is rethinking the way it evaluates drugs to treat opioid addiction. Rather than just considering whether a potential treatment might curb opioid use, the agency says it’ll also consider other factors, like whether it might reduce overdose rates or prevent the transmission of infectious diseases. Right now, there are just three drugs on the market to treat opioid use disorder: buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone, which addiction treatment experts say aren’t used nearly enough.The FDA said encouraging drug developers to think outside the box about outcomes might lead to significant health benefits in the long run.

Medicaid expansion tied to better access to diabetes drugs

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(health affairs)

The rising costs of insulin and the high price tags of newer classes of diabetes drugs have made treatments difficult for many patients to afford — but new research suggests Medicaid expansion might help narrow some gaps in access. Researchers analyzed data on diabetes prescriptions paid for with Medicaid in states that did and didn’t expand the program. In expansion states, Medicaid prescriptions filled for insulin and newer medications increased by roughly 40 percent each after expansion. There wasn’t a meaningful change in states that didn’t expand Medicaid. "Our findings suggest that Medicaid eligibility expansions may address gaps in access to diabetes medications, with increasing effects over time," the authors write. 

Inside STAT: Can an app's warnings to avoid triggers prevent opioid addiction relapses?

Several treatment centers in Massachusetts are piloting a new app that aims to help people avoid triggers that might threaten their recovery from opioid addiction. The app — called Hey,Charlie — was thought up at a 2016 health hackathon at MIT. It monitors a user's contacts and location, then sends a notification to warn them about risky contacts or neighborhoods. “It helps them keep their sobriety at the front of their mind,” said Emily Lindemer, co-founder of Hey,Charlie. It joins a sea of apps designed to connect people to addiction treatment, augment their therapy, or simply offer encouragement. STAT's Orly Nadell Farber has more here

Brazil launches measles and polio vaccination campaign

Brazil has launched a sweeping immunization campaign to vaccinate children against measles and polio. Hundreds of people have been sickened in a measles outbreak in the country this year. Most of those cases occurred in northern parts of Brazil, where thousands of refugees from Venezuela have crossed into the country. The country is concerned about the risk of polio among children as well. Health officials are hoping to accelerate their vaccination efforts and immunize most children aged 1 to 5 by the end of August.

Some countries aren't prepared to treat common conditions

Public health experts are warning that some low- and middle-income countries aren’t prepared to grapple with the growing burden of noncommunicable diseases. Researchers examined health care services for common NCDs in five countries: Bangladesh, Haiti, Malawi, Nepal, and Tanzania. They looked at the “readiness” of health facilities, or whether the necessary staff, tools, and treatments for a disease were available on a given day. They found that very few facilities were fully “ready.” Rural and free facilities were often among the least prepared. The most critical limitations: shortages of trained health workers and essential medicines.

What to read around the web today

  • There's little to no evidence to support bedrest for pregnant women. Why do doctors still prescribe it? The Atlantic
  • The FDA is poised to approve the first-ever drug that mutes disease-causing genes. STAT Plus
  • A huge clinical trial collapses, and research on alcohol remains befuddling. Washington Post
  • When more is less: Americans spent lots more on fewer pills. STAT Plus

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,

Megan

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Tuesday, August 7, 2018

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