Week in Review: March 8

The Week in Review provides an overview of the past week’s top health care content, including industry news and trends, Mayo Clinic and Mayo Clinic Laboratories news, and upcoming events.


Industry News

U.S. Deaths from Alcohol, Drugs, and Suicide Hit Highest Level Since Record-Keeping Began
The number of deaths from alcohol, drugs, and suicide in 2017 hit the highest level since federal data collection started in 1999, according to an analysis of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data by two public health nonprofits. The national rate for deaths from alcohol, drugs, and suicide rose from 43.9 to 46.6 deaths per 100,000 people in 2017, a 6 percent increase, the Trust for America's Health and the Well Being Trust reported Tuesday. That was a slower increase than in the previous two years, but it was greater than the 4 percent average annual increase since 1999. Deaths from suicides rose from 13.9 to 14.5 deaths per 100,000, a 4 percent increase. That was double the average annual pace over the previous decade. Via USA Today.

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FDA Approves Esketamine Nasal Spray for Hard-to-Treat Depression
The Food and Drug Administration approved the first drug that can relieve depression in hours instead of weeks. Esketamine, a chemical cousin of the anesthetic and party drug ketamine, represents the first truly new kind of depression drug since Prozac hit the market in 1988. The FDA's decision came Tuesday, less than a month after a panel of experts advising the agency voted overwhelmingly in favor of approval. "There has been a long-standing need for additional effective treatments for treatment-resistant depression, a serious and life-threatening condition," said Dr. Tiffany Farchione, acting director of the Division of Psychiatry Products in the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, in a press release about the decision. Via NPR.

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Facebook Vows to Quash Anti-Vaccine Misinformation
Facebook announced on Thursday it is taking steps to combat the spread of anti-vaccine information across the social media platform by reducing the distribution of misleading medical advice and relying on vetting from leading global health organizations that "have publicly identified verifiable vaccine hoaxes." The company intends to provide users with authoritative information on the controversial topic, Monika Bickert, vice president of global policy management, said in a statement. "If a group or Page admin posts this vaccine misinformation, we will exclude the entire group or Page from recommendations, reduce these groups and Pages' distribution in News Feed and Search, and reject ads with this misinformation," Bickert explained. Via NPR. 

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Mayo Clinic News

Improved Detection and Treatment of Pancreatic Cancer Provides Hope
While there are currently no approved early detection tests for pancreatic cancer, researchers say there are promising possibilities—particularly in blood tests that can pick up biomarkers for it. "We are slowly making inroads," said Gloria Petersen, a professor of epidemiology at the Mayo Clinic who has researched pancreatic cancer for 20 years. "I think we will probably be seeing some [biomarker tests] being offered up within the next five years for early detection for pancreatic cancer." Petersen believes the blood tests currently under development would result in a diagnosis one to three years earlier than the average diagnosis being given now. "We know from a lot of research that with earlier detection, there are better treatment options, so that is our goal," she said. Via NBC News.

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Study Identifies New Link between Sleep Apnea Symptoms and Alzheimer’s Disease
A new preliminary study from researchers at Mayo Clinic that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 71st Annual Meeting in Philadelphia in May found that people with sleep apnea symptoms had a higher accumulation of the toxic protein tau (a major biomarker in Alzheimer's disease) before showing any signs of dementia. Pauses in breathing during sleep—the hallmark sign of sleep apnea—appear to be part of a process that potentially increases the risk of tau accumulation and therefore memory decline, says Diego Z. Carvalho, M.D., the first author of the study and a neurology fellow at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Via Everyday Health.

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Time's Up Healthcare Seeks to Drive Cultural Change, Break down Culture of Inequality, Harassment
The advocacy movement and organization Time's Up has come to health care with the launch of Time's Up Healthcare, a new affiliate looking to address workplace discrimination and harassment. Time's Up Healthcare includes 50 founding members and 13 senior advisers and is linked to a network of leading institutions in health care. Via Healthcare Finance.

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Suzanne R. Ferguson

Suzanne Ferguson is a Marketing Channel Manager at Mayo Clinic Laboratories and has worked at Mayo Clinic since 2014. Outside of work, Suzanne can be found traveling, reading and spending time with her family.

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