30 July 2022 |

Outside the Huddle #137

By workweek

1) Was the Amyloid Hypothesis Wrong?

You’ve probably heard of Biogen’s unsuccessful Alzheimer’s drug, Aduhelm. Well, it turns out some of the original research showing that amyloid proteins (the target of Aduhelm) play a role in Alzheimer’s might have been fabricated. According to the investigation, a scientist copied gel lines from gel electrophoresis studies, making it seem like certain proteins were present when they may not have been. This revelation could be a huge setback for the quest to treat Alzheimer’s. Billions of dollars have been funded into amyloid research—people are pulling their hairs out after reading this story.

2) The Nitty-Gritty Deets on One Medical

Blake Madden wrote a deep dive on Amazon’s acquisition of One Medical. He discusses the transaction terms, One Medical’s geographical footprint and financials. If you want to form an opinion about Amazon’s acquisition, this deep dive will tell you all the necessary information. Overall, Amazon’s acquisition of One Medical is one of the biggest healthcare ventures by big tech we’ve seen so far, but much remains to be seen regarding the direction Amazon will take One Medical.

3) Employers Challenge Free Preventative Service Coverage

A case currently going through federal court is challenging an Affordable Care Act requirement for insurance companies to cover over 100 preventative services for free. These services range from free cancer screening to free contraception. Those challenging the ACA are employers and individuals who either don’t want to pay for these preventative services or simply object to certain kinds of preventative services (I’m sure you can guess which ones). They say such a requirement is unconstitutional. The ACA has been to battle before and it shall continue persevering.

4) Efficacy of Vitamin D Supplements

A study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that Vitamin D didn’t lower the risk of fractures in healthy adults, even though they are widely recommended. One important note is that the study did not recruit participants based on diagnosed vitamin D deficiency or conditions like osteopenia and osteoporosis. In other words, this does not suggest that Vitamin D isn’t helpful in those cases.

5) FDA Agrees to Review Biogen’s ALS Drug

The FDA agreed to review Biogen’s fast-track application for their ALS drug tofersen. Despite unpromising results demonstrating the drug is no better than placebo, Biogen is following through with fast-track submission. Last year, as I mentioned above, the FDA approved Biogen’s Alzheimer’s drug despite shaky efficacy and massive controversy. It will be interesting to see how the FDA handles tofersen—I’m sure there will be more controversy. 

6) Monkeypox Vaccine Rollout

Monkeypox is spreading rapidly across the globe, especially in the U.S. The fragmented public health system makes it challenging for federal health agencies to gather sufficient data to implement interventions. Does that problem sound familiar? KFF is tracking state-based cases and vaccine rollouts. You can check it out here

7) Telehealth is Here to Stay

The House passed legislation to extend telehealth reimbursement flexibilities through the end of 2024. Telehealth is here to stay.