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Morning Rounds Shraddha Chakradhar

In landmark moment, Ebola vaccine approved in Europe

The European Commission yesterday gave marketing authorization to an Ebola vaccine, paving the way for the first approved vaccine for the disease after more than two decades of research. Known as Ervebo, the vaccine was granted authorization less than a month after the European Medicines Agency recommended that it be licensed. The vaccine — which was originally licensed to NewLink Genetics but later taken over by Merck — had previously only been used in clinical trials, including during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014-2016. A trial in Guinea toward the end of the outbreak confirmed that the vaccine was highly protective. Some 250,000 doses of Ervebo have also been administered in the ongoing outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The FDA is still considering the vaccine for approval in the U.S., and a decision is expected before next March. 

Meet the 2019 class of STAT Wunderkinds

(Jennifer Keefe/STAT)

After spending the past few months combing through more than 200 nominations, STAT just announced its newest class of Wunderkinds, who are early-career doctors and researchers blazing new trails in their endeavor to answer some of the biggest questions in science and medicine. This year’s stellar class includes a scientist hoping to eliminate Chagas disease in her native Colombia, another scientist who is developing the next wave of CRISPR editing technology, and a researcher whose upbringing in Kashmir and medical school training in Bangladesh have led him on a quest to make health care more equitable. Read more about the 2019 Wunderkinds here

Bloomberg health summit gets underway 

The Bloomberg American Health Initiative — which is aiming to tackle five key health issues affecting U.S. health — is holding its second annual summit today and tomorrow at Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health, where the initiative is based. The five issues that will be examined are addiction and overdose; environmental challenges; obesity and the food system; risks to adolescent health; and violence. This year’s summit will feature experts whose work covers various aspects of the focus areas, but will notably also include a video message from the “Sesame Street” muppet Karli, whose mother struggles with addiction. And although most of the summit is invite-only, today’s morning plenary — featuring the president of the March of Dimes and others — will be livestreamed starting at 8:30 a.m. ET. 

Inside STAT: Tiny biotechs fear ‘nuclear winter’ from Pelosi drug pricing bill 

(Alex Hogan/STAT)

Although intense debate has unfolded over the past several weeks over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s drug pricing bill, small biotech companies have hardly been part of the conversation. The discussion has mainly centered on major pharmaceutical companies — since they also make some of the priciest drugs the bill is aiming to make more accessible. But smaller companies could also be hard-hit by the proposed policy changes. Some estimates say that the bill would tax the biotech industry in such a way as to result in eight to 15 fewer new drugs over the next 10 years. Another study says nearly 90% fewer drugs developed by small biotech companies would have been on the market had the bill been law this past decade. STAT’s Nicholas Florko has more from Washington here

Over half of patients involved in opioid-related malpractice claims had serious injuries

A new report that looked at opioid-related malpractice claims to identify warning signs and risk factors finds that over half of the patients involved in these claims had a serious injury or died. Here’s more: 

  • The report: Coverys, a company that provides liability insurance for medical professionals, compiled the report based on five years of previously undisclosed malpractice claims that include 165 different events involving opioids. 

  • The findings: The opioid drugs most often involved in these events were fentanyl, Dilaudid, and Percocet. The drugs were often prescribed to patients who were already taking other medications, including anti-anxiety drugs and antidepressants. 

  • Prescription process: Some 40% of the claims cited errors when patients were initially screened for and prescribed medications. About a third of the claims cited errors when patients were monitored as they were managing their pain. 

Age-related macular degeneration could affect nearly 80 million Europeans by 2050

Age-related macular degeneration is a leading cause for visual impairment among people in Europe, and a new study finds that some 77 million Europeans could be affected by the condition in the next 30 years. Researchers reviewed data from 26 studies published since 1996, and found that some 1.4 per 1,000 people — or 67 million Europeans — currently have the late stage of the disease. But given the aging population in Europe, the scientists estimate that by 2050, the number of people with late AMD could increase by 15% to around 77 million. This could mean that the incidence rate for late-stage disease could jump from roughly 400,000 people per year currently to 700,000 people per year by 2050. Monitoring and treating people with the condition will require advanced planning and resources, the authors write.

What to read around the web today

  • Cholesterol levels dropping in U.S., but many still need care. The Associated Press
  • 'It’s honestly hell.' Hospitals see rare vomiting syndrome in heavy marijuana consumers. The Boston Globe
  • Homeless with HIV: A lack of housing makes a preventable disease deadly in Oregon. Oregon Live
  • Surgeons transplanted pig skin onto humans for the first time. OneZero
  • India’s health care challenges and tech workforce make it fertile ground for AI startups. STAT Plus

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,


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Tuesday, November 12, 2019


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