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Morning Rounds Shraddha Chakradhar

Good morning! STAT reporter Andrew Joseph here filling in for Shraddha for a couple days. To the health and medicine news we go:

Vaccine against chickenpox has a secondary benefit


(Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

A large new study points to an added bonus of the chickenpox vaccine: “dramatically” lower rates of shingles. Researchers found that children who were vaccinated against the virus that causes chickenpox had a 78% lower rate of shingles than children who had contracted the virus, varicella. And as more children got vaccinated over the course of the 12-year study, the rate of shingles among all children included in the study fell by 72%. Shingles is a delayed complication of varicella infection and causes painful rashes that can lead to long-term nerve pain. More here.  

Vitamin D doesn't prevent type 2 diabetes

Morning Rounds loves a negative study, and in this one, researchers reported that that a daily vitamin D supplement did not stave off type 2 diabetes. Scientists had previously noticed an association between lower levels of vitamin D and type 2 diabetes, and some studies had indicated vitamin D could bolster the activity of insulin-generating beta cells. But in the new trial, which involved more than 2,400 people with signs of prediabetes, those who took a daily boost of vitamin D did not have significantly lower rates of diabetes after a few years than those who took a placebo. The results of the “D2d study” highlight the importance of running trials to answer questions raised by correlative work.

Social media influencers hyped vaping products without proper warnings, regulators say

In their latest move to curb youth e-cigarette use, federal regulators have sent warning letters to four vaping companies for hawking their products on social media without including mandated nicotine warnings. Specifically, the FDA and FTC called out for companies for paying influencers to encourage their followers on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to try the companies’ vaping liquids with no mention that the products contain addictive nicotine. Health officials have been battling what they call an epidemic of youth e-cigarette use, which could harm developing brains and lead to more cases of nicotine addiction. The four companies — Solace Technologies, Hype City Vapors, Humble Juice Co., and Artist Liquids Laboratories — have about three weeks to respond to the agencies outlining how they’re addressing the concerns.

Inside STAT: A push to make mental health care a campaign priority

“Medicare for All.” The future of Obamacare. Drug prices. These topics are already among the most discussed issues among candidates ahead of the 2020 election. Now, some of the most prominent mental health organizations in the country are pushing to make sure mental health becomes a focus of the campaign, with a new initiative to get candidates in a variety of races to outline their policy proposals and implementation plans. They’ve formed a group called Mental Health for US and secured hundreds of thousands of dollars to urge policymakers to improve prevention, access and intervention, and recovery services for mental health. STAT's Megan Thielking has the story here

Weighing the cost of care at teaching hospitals

Teaching hospitals — those that train the next generation of health professionals — are generally considered to be more expensive than nonteaching hospitals, which matters as insurers and policymakers try to get control of health care spending. But a new study challenges that thinking. A team of researchers looked at more than 1.2 million hospitalizations among Medicare beneficiaries for 21 conditions at more than 3,000 major teaching, minor teaching, and nonteaching hospitals. They found that while care was initially more costly at teaching hospitals, these centers actually had lower costs at the 30-day mark because of decreased spending on post-acute care and readmissions. Overall costs after 90 days were about the same regardless of the hospital. One note: The Association of American Medical Colleges funded the research.

Lagging action following naloxone access policies

Pennsylvania issued a standing order for the opioid overdose reversal medication naloxone in 2015, making it available without a prescription. But years later, many pharmacies are not carrying naloxone or require a prescription for it, according to a new study that surveyed more than 400 pharmacies in Philadelphia. Only one-third of the pharmacies had naloxone nasal spray in stock, and less than two-thirds of those pharmacies said they would provide it without a prescription. Pharmacies in parts of the city with higher rates of overdose deaths were less likely to have naloxone available.   

What to read around the web today

  • Diabetes-coaching startup’s expected IPO will offer a test of the health tech sector’s prospects. STAT Plus
  • 'Mental health parity' is still an elusive goal in U.S. insurance coverage. NPR
  • Opinion: Appeals court's smart move paves the way for opioid addiction treatment in prisons and jails. STAT
  • A suicide attempt, an order to keep silent: The Indian Health Service mishandled sex-abuse claims. Wall Street Journal
  • At the only abortion clinic in Missouri, doctors live and work in uncertainty. Los Angeles Times

Thanks for reading!


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1 Lehman, A., Lieberman, J., et al. (2010) Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Patients with Schizophrenia; Second Edition. American Psychiatric Association.

Monday, June 10, 2019


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