Week in Review: March 15


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

Decline in Readers, Ads Leads Hundreds of Newspapers to Fold

All newspaper owners face a brutal reality that calls into question whether it’s an economically sustainable model anymore unless, like the Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post, the boss is the world’s richest man. That’s especially true in smaller communities. “They’re getting eaten away at every level,” said Ken Doctor, a news industry analyst at Harvard’s Nieman Lab. Newspaper circulation in the U.S. has declined every year for three decades, while advertising revenue has nosedived since 2006, according to the Pew Research Center. Staffing at newspapers large and small has followed that grim trendline: Pew says the number of reporters, editors, photographers, and other newsroom employees in the industry fell by 45 percent nationwide between 2004 and 2017. Via Associated Press.

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UnitedHealthcare Broadens Direct Drug Rebate Program

The nation's largest health insurer is expanding a program that passes rebates from drugmakers directly to the people that use their medications. Beginning next year, all new employer-sponsored health plan customers that use UnitedHealthcare must give discounts they get for including certain drugs in their lists of covered medications directly to consumers at the point of sale. Via US News.

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Leading Scientists, Backed by NIH, Call for a Global Moratorium on Creating "CRISPR Babies"

The Chinese scientist who created “CRISPR babies,” He Jiankui, sincerely believed that the research violated neither his country’s laws nor the guidelines of the international scientific community, according to his friends and colleagues. He didn’t exactly keep his experiment secret: He told at least four U.S. scientists that he was considering establishing pregnancies with genome-edited IVF embryos, enlisted a U.S. scientist to work at his Shenzhen lab, teamed with a Chinese hospital and IVF clinic, and proudly announced the birth of “Nana” and “Lulu” on YouTube in November. Though researchers forcefully condemned He’s work as unethical and a breach of a scientific red line—and while the Chinese government has since accused him of breaking their laws—He clearly hadn’t gotten the memo. Now, in an effort to prevent another He, 18 scientists from seven countries have called for “a global moratorium on all clinical uses of human germline editing”—that is, changing DNA in sperm, eggs, or early embryos to make genetically altered children, alterations that would be passed on to future generations. They say a moratorium should be in place for at least five years. Via STAT.

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Mayo Clinic News

U.S. News: "Best Medical Schools 2020"

U.S. News & World Report released its rankings for the best medical schools in the U.S. for research and primary care on March 12. The annual rankings are part of U.S. News' Best Graduate Schools rankings. Via Becker’s Hospital Review.

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Advanced Biological Labs, Mayo Collaborate on Test for CMV Antiviral Resistance

Luxembourg-based diagnostics firm Advanced Biological Laboratories (ABL) announced today a collaboration with Mayo Clinic Laboratories to develop a clinical test to detect mutations associated with antiviral resistance in human cytomegalovirus (CMV). The test will leverage next-generation sequencing to sequence PCR amplicons of the UL54 and UL97 genes in which drug resistance with CMV has been associated. ABL's software, DeepChek-CMV, will be used to analyze the data and to interpret possible drug resistance in the virus. Via GenomeWeb.

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Suzanne R. Ferguson

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.