Week in Review: June 11

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

EXPLAINER: How will insurers cover a new Alzheimer’s drug?

Federal regulators have approved the first new drug for Alzheimer’s disease in nearly 20 years, leaving patients waiting to see how insurers will handle the pricey new treatment. Health care experts expect broad coverage of the drug, which was approved Monday. But what that means for patients will vary widely depending on their insurance plan. In some cases, that could mean coming up with several thousand dollars to pay for what the insurer didn’t cover. Via Associated Press

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How to Talk to Someone Who’s Hesitant to Get the COVID-19 Vaccine

Communities of color have been hit disproportionately hard by the pandemic, and deploying vaccines to populations that are more vulnerable has been a key component of public health messaging. But many people in these (and other) communities are hesitant to take the vaccine. And for good reason – there's a long history of mistrust between communities of color and American health institutions. For some people of color, there are deep-seated and legitimate concerns that this could be a repeat of Tuskegee, Lockhart says, referencing the infamous "ethically unjustified" Tuskegee study, which intended to study untreated syphilis in Black men and involved misinformation, lack of informed consent and outright manipulation of participants. Via US News & World Report

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Yes, Your Employer Can Require You to Be Vaccinated

As many Americans prepare to head back to the office, companies are hammering out policies on the extent to which they will require, or strongly encourage, employees to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. The bottom line is that companies are legally permitted to make employees get vaccinated, according to recent guidance from the federal agency that enforces workplace discrimination laws, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Via New York Times

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Mayo Clinic News

 FDA approves first drug intended to slow cognitive decline caused by Alzheimer’s

Ronald C. Petersen, director of the Mayo Clinic Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, called the FDA’s conditional approval “a good outcome to a complicated situation.” He said the decision means patients will be able to receive the treatment outside of clinical trials, but because of the “equivocal nature” of the efficacy data, the company will have to conduct another trial proving the therapy works. Via Washington Post

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Minnesota COVID-19 numbers headed in 'right direction'

The statewide rate is subject to a data lag, and there are signs that an even smaller share of tests has been coming back positive in recent days. The positivity rate for tests conducted at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester held below 2% over the past week and dropped to as low as 0.3% on one day, said Matthew Binnicker, director of clinical virology. The numbers make Binnicker think a surge in coronavirus cases is "very unlikely" this summer through early fall. He worries, though, that if a significant number of Minnesotans remain unvaccinated, cases could rise again with the onset of colder weather in late fall and winter. Via Star Tribune

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Tired? Lack motivation? Pandemic brain fog might be to blame

 Melissa Gerads Jones blamed brain fog for her difficulty holding her own in a conversation and her ability to remember things, like a favorite recipe…Jones' brain fog is likely connected to COVID-19, which she contracted in March 2020 and couldn't shake. Because of her lingering congestion, chest pain, wheezing and fatigue she's been treated at the Mayo Clinic as a so-called long hauler. Rehabilitation physicians from Mayo have created a podcast and YouTube videos to explain brain fog as a common side effect in long-haul patients, noting that puzzling cognitive symptoms plague these recovering COVID-19 patients long after the virus cleared their system. Via Star Tribune

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Samantha Rossi

Samantha Rossi is a Digital Marketing Manager at Mayo Clinic Laboratories. She supports marketing strategies for product management and specialty testing. Samantha has worked at Mayo Clinic since 2019.