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Morning Rounds

Prescription fish oil pill shows big benefit for cardiovascular patients

Biopharma company Amarin is making heart-medicine history this morning with noteworthy clinical trial results of its proprietary, prescription formulation of fish oil. The pill, called Vascepa, significantly reduced the risk of deaths, heart attacks, strokes, and other serious cardiovascular problems compared to a placebo. The results upend long-held skepticism in the cardiology community about the medicinal value of omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil. “This is absolutely the most significant study in the field of cardiovascular risk reduction since the statins were introduced,” said Dr. Matthew Budoff, a cardiologist at UCLA and a Vascepa study investigator.

Inside STAT: Ketamine gives hope to patients with severe depression. But some clinics stray from the science

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(eros dervishi for stat)

Dozens of free-standing clinics have opened across the U.S. in recent years to provide ketamine to patients who are desperate for an effective treatments for major depression and other mental health conditions. They're buoyed by evidence that the anesthetic can rapidly relieve symptoms of depression in some patients. But a STAT investigation found wide-ranging inconsistencies among clinics, from the screening of patients to the dose and frequency of the infusions to the coordination with patients’ mental health providers. Experts worry that some clinics are offering the drug to anyone who can afford it, with many patients paying thousands of dollars out of pocket. I have more on the practices and claims of the clinics — read here.

Leaders talk TB prevention at U.N. General Assembly

There’s a flurry of conversations about health care happening at the United Nations General Assembly in New York this week. The WHO is holding two high-level meetings with heads of state and health officials from around the world. On Wednesday, they'll convene to talk about accelerating efforts to end tuberculosis, which sickened 10 million people in 2017 and killed 1.6 million. And on Thursday, leaders will gather to discuss reducing early deaths from noncommunicable diseases like cancer and diabetes. The WHO will also host a series of smaller talks on everything from cervical cancer prevention to malnutrition in Yemen. 

Pediatrics group opposes proposed changes to green card considerations

The American Academy of Pediatrics is speaking out against a proposed new policy from the Trump administration that would require immigration caseworkers to consider use of public benefits — such as food assistance and subsidized insurance — as "heavily weighed negative factors” when a person is applying to live in the U.S. permanently.“The [proposal] presents immigrant families with an impossible choice: keep yourself or your children healthy but risk being separated, or forgo vital services like preventive care and food assistance so your family can remain together in this country,” AAP President Dr. Colleen Kraft said in a statement.

Why a biotech company just turned data from an abandoned project over to its competitor

Troves of data from shuttered projects typically don’t see the light of day — but this morning, the biopharma company Achaogen announced that it's sharing compounds, assays, and data from an abandoned antibiotic program with its competitor Forge, a biotech company. Forge is still working to develop the same kind of novel antibiotics using a different approach and its scientists hope to learn from the Achaogen work. Kevin Outterson, executive director of CARB-X — the antibiotic accelerator that coordinated the collaboration — said the urgent need for new antibiotics means new approaches are in high demand.

Tool doesn't curb CT use for kids with head injuries

Nearly half a million kids visit ERs in the U.S. each year due to head injuries, and many of them undergo CT scans — but few of those scans show signs of traumatic brain injury. In a new paper, researchers looking for ways to curb unnecessary CT use in kids tested out a decision-making tool designed by the Mayo Clinic that walks parents through their child's care and asks what steps they'd prefer to take, whether that is a CT scan or observation at home. In a randomized trial, the tool didn't reduce the rate of CT imaging for head injuries in kids, but was tied to less health care use in the week after an ER visit.

What to read around the web today

  • Tiny device is a 'huge advance' for the treatment of heart failure. New York Times
  • We can't afford the drugs that could cure cancer. Wall Street Journal
  • Can building a better research mouse open the black box of Alzheimer’s? STAT Plus
  • At least 68 people are nearly blind after a botched drug was injected into their eyeballs. BuzzFeed

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,

Megan

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Monday, September 24, 2018

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