- Pharmaceuticals 1
- Following Good Results, Ionis Ends Trial Early For Medicine For Fatal Infants’ Disease
- Hospital Roundup 1
- Hospital Ratings -- Fast Becoming More Popular -- Don't Paint Whole Picture, Experts Say
- Public Health and Education 2
- Monterey County Sees First Travel-Linked Zika Case
- Vaccination Law In Effect As Start Of School Edges Closer
Latest From California Healthline:
Intensive training for such aides helps reduce repeated ER visits and hospitalizations of elderly disabled people, a pilot project suggests. (Anna Gorman, 8/2)
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Summaries Of The News:
Those fighting against a ballot measure to impose limits on how much drugmakers can charge state agencies for prescription drugs have almost $66 million as of June 30.
Los Angeles Times:
Nearly $66 Million In Campaign Cash To Kill A Prescription Drug Ballot Measure In November
Opponents of a ballot measure that would limit how much pharmaceutical companies can charge state agencies for prescription drugs had nearly $66 million on hand in June. The campaign against Proposition 61 reported Monday it had $65.9 million in cash as of June 30. That far outpaced supporters of the measure, whose own campaign filing reported a little more than $7 million. Proposition 61 would prevent state agencies from paying more for a drug than the price paid by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Drug manufacturers, including Merck, Pfizer and AbbVie, are among the largest funders of the opposition campaign. (Bollag, 8/1)
Elizabeth Holmes spoke about the scandal-plagued company's technology on Monday at the annual meeting of the American Association for Clinical Chemistry.
The Wall Street Journal:
Theranos Makes Case To Laboratory Experts
Theranos Inc. founder Elizabeth Holmes announced a new blood-testing device at an academic conference here Monday but didn’t address problems found with the company’s earlier machines. At the annual meeting of the American Association for Clinical Chemistry, a group of laboratory scientists, Ms. Holmes described a device, called miniLab, resembling a computer printer. Theranos says it can run tests accurately on as little as 160 microliters of blood, or a few drops, pricked from a finger. (Carreyrou, 8/1)
San Francisco Business Times:
Theranos Unveils New Product, Little Data On Existing Tech
Theranos Inc. unveiled a new blood-testing device at a conference in Philadelphia, where it had been expected Monday to provide data that showed its existing, controversial technology worked. The Palo Alto company, whose founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes faces a two-year ban from the blood-testing industry, presented a “miniLab” blood-testing device that analyzes blood drawn in the traditional way instead of the small finger-prick samples its previous tech was based on. (Schubarth, 8/1)
Long-Awaited Theranos Presentation Leaves Questions About Blood Tests
Holmes took the stage at the American Association for Clinical Chemistry’s meeting in Philadelphia as she faces a two-year ban from the blood testing industry and intense scrutiny over her company’s technology. On Monday she spoke about a new blood testing machine that is removed from that crisis — the miniLab. And she revealed a new test the company had developed to diagnose the Zika virus. (Kendall, 8/1)
Stocks for Ionis and Biogen Inc. have soared on the news that it's treatment for a rare, often fatal infant disease has proven safe.
Los Angeles Times:
Ionis Shares Leap 30% After A Drug Trial Goes So Well, It Ends Early
An experimental drug for an incurable, often fatal infant disease has performed so well that a clinical trial was halted ahead of schedule, development partners Ionis Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Biogen Inc. announced Monday. Shares of Carlsbad, Calif.-based Ionis soared 30.2% to close at $38.01. (Fikes, 8/1)
In other pharmaceutical news —
Alphabet Looks To Piggyback Tiny Implants Onto Body's Nerves
Google's parent company Alphabet and drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline have embarked on a $700 million joint venture seeking to treat disease by piggybacking tiny electronic devices onto nerves, the firms announced Monday. Alphabet's Verily life-sciences unit will own 45 percent of the new Galvani Bioelectronics and will house a research hub in its South San Francisco facilities. British pharmaceutical giant GSK will own 55 percent. The technology could potentially treat chronic diseases such as arthritis, diabetes and asthma, GSK said. (Baron, 8/2)
Though they can be a good place for a patient to start -- and can help hospitals market themselves -- star ratings and other rankings don't take into account how complex such health systems are, experts warn.
The San Diego Union-Tribune:
Do Hospital Rankings Benefit Consumers?
On Tuesday, U.S. News & World Report released its 27th annual “Best Hospital” rankings, including an honor roll of 20 hospitals from around the country — such as the Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic and UCLA Medical Center. ... Less than a week ago, the federal government released its first-ever ratings system for overall hospital quality, which in many cases seemed at odds with the U.S. News rankings. For example, the government placed Paradise Valley Hospital in National City above the usually vaunted UC San Diego Medical Center. (Smith, 8/1)
In other hospital news —
Tips On Getting Along With Hospital Staff
What if they get the wrong paperwork, medication, surgery -- the list goes on. And the “what ifs” can lead friends and family members to overstep their bounds with hospital staff. Conversely, nurses may be more concerned with providing medical care than communicating with patients, a skill they may not have learned in nursing school. But according to a Wall Street Journal article, that may be changing. Programs and workshops are cropping up to help nurses communicate with patients and their loved ones, and hospital staff have some recommendations on how to get the best care. (Morrison and Sy, 8/1)
Meanwhile, Sonoma officials are stepping up their efforts to prepare for the virus in case it begins to spread locally.
Zika Virus Infection Detected In Monterey County Resident
Monterey County health officials reported the first travel-associated Zika virus infection in a Monterey County resident Saturday. According to the Monterey County Health Department, the infected individual traveled to Central America in June and July before becoming ill upon returning to the U.S. The individual received medical care from a primary care provider, which requested Zika testing from the Monterey County Health Department. A lab test confirmed the Zika virus infection. (Wright, 8/1)
The Press Democrat:
Zika Virus Precautions Taken By Sonoma County Officials
The mosquito traps are out and medical surveillance systems are being put into place, as Sonoma County health officials and mosquito control experts prepare for the possible spread locally of Zika, an alarming viral threat that can cause severe deformities in unborn children. While it’s not here yet, transmission of the virus — from mosquito to human and back — has recently been detected in Florida, prompting local officials to plan a response. The two mosquito types that can carry the virus, the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, are currently present in the Los Angeles area and other parts of Southern California. Prior to this year they were detected in San Mateo and Alameda counties, though they were quickly eradicated. (Espinoza, 8/1)
In other news, Orange County's mosquito control is deploying strike teams to try to contain the spread of the West Nile virus —
Orange County Register:
West Nile Virus Activity Spreads To 16th Orange County City
West Nile virus activity continues to accelerate in Orange County, with mosquitoes testing positive in Fountain Valley, the 16th local city this year. ...So far this year there have been 74 positive mosquito samples countywide, while a year ago at this time there were only 40, [Jared] Dever said. Statewide, there have been three human cases of West Nile virus this season, although none in Orange County, according to the California Department of Public Health. (Perkes, 8/1)
Parents and guardians can no longer skip vaccinations because of their personal beliefs.
The San Diego Union-Tribune:
New Vaccination Law Takes Effect
As students head back to school, they will be held to a new state law designed to stop the spread of disease by making it more difficult to opt out of vaccines...More than 13,000 (2.4 percent) of kindergartners statewide lacked some or all vaccines last school year , 4,000 fewer than in 2013-14, the highest on record. In San Diego County, some 1,600 (3.6 percent) kindergartners had a personal belief exemption last year, a drop of about 400 students from the prior year when 4.5 percent lacked some or all vaccines. (Magee, 8/1)
In other public health news —
Concussions, Heat-Related Illness Are Concerns For Local Football Coaches
Dr. Jonathan Pettegrew advised coaches and athletic directors Monday to have an action plan for heat-related illness, and to make sure athletes are properly hydrated. Heat exhaustion claimed the life of Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Korey Springer, whose 2001 death led to an NFL review of training camp procedures. Springer became dizzy and vomited multiple times during a practice held in intense heat and humidity; his body temperature reached 109 degrees before his death in a Minnesota hospital. (Carlson, 8/1)
Humboldt County sheriff's department crews found the plane wreckage and bodies about 10 a.m. Friday.
East Bay Times:
Humboldt County: Four Who Died In Oakland-Bound Medical Flight Identified
The names of four people killed when a medical transport plane en route to Oakland crashed last week were released by authorities Monday. All were from Crescent City, where the plane took off from early July 29. (Harris, 8/1)
Following the confirmation of 10 new Zika cases, the CDC has advised pregnant women to stay away from a 1-square-mile area in northern Miami. The agency also recommends that all prenatal screenings should include questions about travel to Zika-infected areas.
The New York Times:
Zika Surge In Miami Neighborhood Prompts Travel Warning
Federal health officials on Monday urged pregnant women to stay away from a Miami neighborhood where they have discovered additional cases of Zika infection — apparently the first time the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised people not to travel to a place in the continental United States. Florida officials said the number of Zika cases caused by local mosquitoes had risen to 14 from the four announced on Friday: 12 men and two women. They declined to say whether either woman was pregnant. All of the cases have been in one neighborhood. (Belluck, 8/1)
In other national health care news —
The Associated Press:
Obama: Strides On Helping Veterans But More Work To Do
President Barack Obama said Monday that the U.S. has made serious strides in improving services for military veterans, but work remains to overcome shortcomings in the delivery of health care, housing and mental health services. He called the nation's commitment to its veterans a "sacred covenant." "I don't use those words lightly. It's sacred because there is no more solemn request than to ask someone to risk their life, to be ready to give their life on our behalf," Obama said at the annual convention of the Disabled American Veterans. (8/1)
The New York Times:
With Room Service And More, Hospitals Borrow From Hotels
At the Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital outside Detroit, patients arrive to uniformed valets and professional greeters. Wi-Fi is free and patient meals are served on demand 24 hours a day. Members of the spa staff give in-room massages and other treatments. While clinical care is the focus of any medical center, hospitals have many incentives to move toward hotel-inspired features, services and staff training. Medical researchers say such amenities can improve health outcomes by reducing stress and anxiety among patients, while private rooms can cut down on the transfer of disease. (Weed, 8/1)
The New York Times:
Setting The Body’s ‘Serial Killers’ Loose On Cancer
The young surgeon was mystified. A fist-size tumor had been removed from the stomach of his patient 12 years earlier, but his doctors had not been able to cut out many smaller growths in his liver. The cancer should have killed him, yet here he lay on the table for a routine gallbladder operation. The surgeon, Dr. Steven A. Rosenberg, examined the man’s abdominal cavity, sifting his liver in his fingers, feeling for hard, dense tumors — but he could find no trace of cancer. It was 1968. Dr. Rosenberg had a hunch he had just witnessed an extraordinary case in which a patient’s immune system had vanquished cancer. (Pollack, 8/1)