Morning Round: Why health care costs nearly one-fifth of GDP

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Good morning. Don’t miss Nicholas Florcos’ shocking investigation into medical marijuana businesses marketing their products for cancer or depression without any regulatory oversight.

Medical marijuana companies are following the pharma playbook, except for regulations

Frederick J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images Frederick J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Medical marijuana companies borrow a lot of marketing strategies from pharmaceutical companies. But because they don’t follow the same rules, patients are put at risk, STAT Nicholas Florko tells us in a new STAT investigation. Big players like Trulieve, Curaleaf, and Verano advertise their products as treatments for not only muscle pain, but cancer and depression, without evidence to support those claims.

How can they avoid this? Therein lies the paradox: Cannabis companies don’t have to follow regulations on the claims they make or freebies they give to doctors because, for the most part, cannabis medicine is not federally regulated. The US government has deemed pot too dangerous to consider a drug, so it has handed over almost all responsibility to the states. James Berry of West Virginia University said of businesses, they are able to call it a drug without the necessary rigor of determining whether it is actually a drug or not. Read more, including company responses.

SNL skit on sickle cell therapy draws outrage

You may have already seen (and, if you’re like me, been disappointed) last weekend’s drama about Saturday Night Live’s Neugene treatments for sickle cell disease. If you haven’t seen, the gist is this: In a white-elephant-style gift exchange in an office, a white employee (Kate McKinnon) gifts a black employee with sickle cell (Kenan Thompson) a Vertex Pharmaceutical and CRISPR Therapeutics exa- Enrolls in SAIL programme. sickle cell anemia. “No thanks, I’m going to replace it with Boogie Woogie Santa,” he announced. Later, another black employee (Punky Johnson) also rejects the behavior in favor of a singing, trumpet-playing Santa statue.

Now the Sickle Cell Disease Foundation, Sickle Cell Disease Association and Sick Cells have condemned the sketch. Ashley Valentine, head of Sickle Cell, said this is how they had the Sickle Cell characters: They fooled them, they fooled them. “Those two caricatures that they put on national TV show how people see us,” Valentine said. NBC did not respond to a request for comment. Statistics Jason Mast More.

Drug companies must explain to the FDA how they will diversify clinical trials. Will this work?

Excluding people of color from clinical trials hinders health care and drug development. Starting next year, drug and medical device companies will have to tell the FDA how they intend to make their clinical trials better represent the diverse U.S. population. But planning isn’t the same, the industry’s track record isn’t good, and it’s not clear whether the FDA will take up arms, experts told STAT’s John Wilkerson.

Steve Smith of WCG, a clinical trial consulting firm, told John that it is a myth that people of color are reluctant to get involved in clinical research. A recent survey by Research America found that people of color were slightly more wary of clinical trials than white Americans. The low participation in clinical trials among people of color is mostly due to logistics, Smith said. Read more.

Best photos of STATs 2023

Landscape shot of Mission Hospital at sunset in Asheville, NC
Mission Hospital, part of HCA Healthcare, the nation’s largest hospital chain, is located in Downtown Asheville, North Carolina. Read the story: HCA Doctors say its cost-cutting is putting Appalachian patients at risk, a wake-up call to the entire US health care system. Mike Bieleme for STAT

I don’t know how they limited their list to only 14. STAT’s Director of Photography and Multimedia Alyssa Ambrose worked with STAT’s Picture Editor, Crystal Milner, to select the most memorable photos of 2023 from STAT’s many contributing photographers. The photo above shows Bat-Erdene Namsarai conducting an experiment on rats for new research on cryogenic organ preservation, described in this story by contributor Marion Renault.

You’ll find more photos here of the people whose stories we told, including investors and researchers who are advancing their industries, a man working to escape the cycle of addiction, and a therapist who put her career on the road after an abortion. Has brought, which was made illegal by him. home state.

Lessons on the power of contact tracing

Do you remember contact tracing for COVID-19? A new study from Nature looking at 7 million contacts in England and Wales who were notified by the NHS COVID-19 app concludes that the amount of time someone spent with an infected person was the biggest predictor of whether They themselves will be infected with Covid-19. The authors say their analysis also shows the power of such contact-tracing apps to provide accurate information on risk in future pandemics.

Here’s how it worked: The app relied on Bluetooth signal strength to measure how close and for how long the smartphones were close, and then notified contacts of confirmed cases. Researchers combined that data with the 240,000 positive tests reported after notification. Duration and proximity mattered: fleeting contacts (less than 30 minutes) made up half of reported contacts but caused very little transmission. Household contacts accounted for only 6% of contacts, but they accounted for 40% of transmissions.

There’s a good reason health care cost increases aren’t exceeding inflation

Yesterday we told you that the US government is set to spend more on health care in 2022 than the six countries with universal health care. Today, oncologist Ezekiel Emanuel notes that although health care spending in the US has historically exceeded overall inflation, this has changed in recent years.

With the exception of the 2020 COVID spike, health care costs have remained at or below 18% of GDP since 2010, when Obamacare began. Per capita Medicare spending has remained stable for more than a decade, and premiums for private employer-sponsored insurance have been growing at a rate of 3.7% over the past decade, much slower than the 8.4% increase between 1999 and 2011. . Why? The mindset of American physicians and other physicians has changed, from ignoring costs to trying to cut them, Emanuel writes in a STAT First Opinion. Read their explanation.

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