What’s New in Health Care Reform: Nov. 14

What's New in Health Care Reform provides an overview of the past week’s news, updates, and commentary in health care reform and utilization management.

Mayo Clinic Gets Its Largest Gift Ever: $200 Million to Train Doctors of the Future

The founder of a corporate turnaround firm is donating $200 million to Mayo Clinic to help future doctors afford medical school and train them in areas such as genetics and artificial intelligence that are becoming central to modern medicine. The endowment gift by Jay Alix is the largest in Mayo’s history. The Rochester-based health care provider is renaming its medical school as the Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine in recognition. Via Star Tribune.

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100+ Hospitals, Clinics Are Now Live on Apple's Health Records Feature

In less than a year, more than 100 hospitals and clinics have joined Apple's health records project. Early in 2018, the iPhone maker released plans to integrate patient health records—including allergies, immunizations and lab results—into its Health app as part of the iOS 11.3 beta rollout. The program launched in January at 12 hospitals. Via Becker's Hospital Review.

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FDA to Crackdown on e-Cigarettes, Some Minnesota Cities Already Leading the Way

"Minnesota doesn't have to wait for the FDA," said Mike Sheldon, with ClearWay Minnesota. Sheldon says some Minnesota cities are already leading the way. Fifteen local cities have passed policies raising the age to purchase tobacco to 21, nine have passed tobacco flavor restrictions and five have passed menthol restrictions. Via KSTP.

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The Ecosystem in Immigrants’ Guts Is Shaped by the Place They Call Home

Bodies that migrate across borders undergo tremendous change. Immediately, feet alight on alien terrain, ears channel novel sounds and noses breathe in unfamiliar scents. More gradually, daily routines fall into new rhythms, cultural norms hybridize and dreams evolve. Another transformation occurs deep within the body, two recent studies from the Netherlands and United States find, as the trillions of microbes that live in the human digestive system shift in composition. While many factors may influence how this change occurs, the studies suggest that scientists should consider individuals’ migration status and ethnic origin as they aim for clinical interventions based on the gut microbiome. Researchers are trying to understand what governs gut microbial composition, in part because of increasing evidence that the trillions of microorganisms teeming in our guts influence health in myriad ways. Most chronic diseases have been tied to deviations in gut microbiome, though the specifics of cause and effect still need to be parsed out. Via NY Times.

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New Drug Options, Risk Factors Added to U.S. Heart Guidelines

Updated U.S. guidelines on heart health advise more personalized assessment of risk as well as two newer types of cholesterol-lowering drugs for people at particularly high risk of heart attack or stroke. Via Reuters.

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With Better Drugs for High Cholesterol, Doctors become More Ambitious with Their Treatment Goals

Leading cardiologists are urging their fellow physicians to focus on reducing the LDL cholesterol of patients at greatest risk of suffering a cardiovascular crisis, and to use costly new drugs if necessary. Via LA Times.

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CDC Confirms 90 Cases of Rare Polio-Like Illness Affecting Children in 27 States

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed 90 cases of a polio-like illness in 27 states. The CDC is still trying to determine what triggers Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM), which causes limb weakness and primarily affects young children. Via The Hill.

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A Search for New Ways to Pay for Drugs That Cost a Mint

Researchers expect that three dozen new drugs will come on the market over the next few years with astronomical prices—some likely topping a million dollars per patient. The drugmaker Novartis has told investors it might be able to charge $4 million to $5 million for one of its potential products, a treatment for a rare disease called spinal muscular atrophy. Via NPR.

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Juul Halts Flavored e-Cig Retail Sales, Removes Social Media Presence

The nation’s leading e-cigarette manufacturer Juul Labs released plans to curtail the underage use of its products after facing mounting pressure from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Meeting the 60-day deadline the FDA imposed upon top e-cig manufacturers to submit plans, Juul announced it would stop selling flavored e-cigarettes to all of the 90,000 retail locations where they are currently sold. The company will continue selling flavored e-cigarettes, which FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has called out for appealing to teenage users, through its website which requires more stringent age verification hurdles. The company, which has come under fire for appealing to teens through advertisements and other messages on social media, also announced it would be ending its presence on social media by removing its Facebook and Instagram accounts. The company said it would maintain a presence on Twitter for “non-promotional communications” and on YouTube to air its testimonials from former smokers. Via Yahoo!.

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New Government Guidelines Say You Can Get Your Exercise in Small Doses

Americans seeking to stay healthy can get their exercise in small increments of just a few minutes at a time, according to new guidelines issued by the government that again encourage a largely sedentary nation to start moving. The guidance from a committee appointed by the Department of Health and Human Services does away with the official government position that physical activity should occur in sessions of at least 10 minutes. The earlier position was contained in the government’s first physical activity guidelines, issued in 2008. Via The Washington Post.

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Andy Tofilon

Andy Tofilon is a Marketing Segment Manager at Mayo Clinic Laboratories.