The lonely quest to create a commission to investigate Covid-19

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Other health industry players will profit off of Aduhelm

It’s not just Biogen — other diagnostics and pharma companies will profit off of the FDA approval of the new Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm, too, as doctors rely on complex brain scans to ensure patients are good candidates for the pricey therapy.

And those companies are already pushing for reimbursement in Washington, where policymakers have significant control over how much profit manufacturers of scanning machines and radiopharmaceuticals could make on the Aduhelm bonanza, at least for Medicare patients.

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A longtime coalition of imaging companies including GE Healthcare Systems, Eli Lilly, Siemens Healthineers, and Philips are seizing the moment to make sure the procedures are covered by Medicare, and that providers are well-paid. Here’s more on the effort.

A Q&A with BIO’s Michelle McMurry-Heath

As Washington continues its monthslong tea-leaf-reading exercise on who Biden will tap to be permanent FDA commissioner, my colleague Nicholas Florko sat down with one of the rumor mill’s favorite candidates, Biotechnology Innovation Organization President Michelle McMurry-Heath.

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Some of the questions that Nicholas asked: Are you still a candidate for the job? Would you turn it down if Biden offered it to you? Have you been formally vetted?

They talked about other issues as well, including the FDA’s Aduhelm approval, drug pricing prospects on Capitol Hill, and the status of the TRIPS waiver to override patent protections for Covid-19 vaccines. Read McMurry-Heath’s answers here.

The Milken hot seat this week

Starting today, health care industry leaders, scientists, researchers, government officials, philanthropists and media (including STAT) will converge at the Milken Institute Future of Health Summit. Here’s who we’re watching:

  • CDC Director Rochelle Walensky
  • Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), chair of the House Energy & Commerce health subcommittee
  • Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), chair of the Senate Special Committee on Aging
  • Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, ranking member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee
  • Rachel Levine, HHS assistant secretary for health
  • Paul Kluetz, deputy director of the FDA’s Oncology Center of Excellence

And outside of Milken, Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock is scheduled to appear before the House Oversight Committee Wednesday morning. Technically the hearing is on youth vaping, but we’re expecting some Aduhelm questions as well.

The lonely quest to create a commission to investigate Covid-19

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) escalated his campaign for a 9/11 Commission-style panel to investigate the government response to Covid-19 with a rally at a New Jersey hospital Monday.

He argued that even though outside groups will conduct their own reviews, they won’t have subpoena power or the ability to compel witnesses to testify. The commission wouldn’t be about finger-pointing or digging up dirt about the Trump administration, he insisted, but an investigation into what went wrong.

His bill with Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) hasn’t gotten much traction in Congress, and lawmakers can’t even agree to a bipartisan commission to investigate an armed takeover of the Capitol building in January. Senate leaders on health care are currently more focused on collecting their own feedback on policy to prepare for the next pandemic.

STAT stories you may have missed

As the world stares down the developing threat of antibiotic-resistant superbugs, STAT’s pharmaceutical powerhouse Ed Silverman explores everything about the antibiotic pipeline — and the critical gap in the research and development of novel drugs in this space.

Chadwick Boseman’s tragedy is America’s tragedy: In colorectal cancer hot spots, young men are dying at higher rates.

HHS moved to nix a Trump-era policy that would have targeted 340B drug discounts for community health centers.

Former FDA chief Steve Hahn defends his jump to Flagship Pioneering, the firm behind Moderna, in a sit-down with STAT.

An advocacy group urged HHS to boot FDA officials, including Janet Woodcock, over the agency’s recent Alzheimer’s drug approval.

A biotech executive developing treatments for Alzheimer’s disease has been placed on temporary leave as her former university investigates claims she published several papers containing altered images.

Algorithms used in hospitals nationwide are rife with bias, ”affecting decisions for millions and millions of people, and nobody is catching it,” said emergency medicine physician Ziad Obermeyer.

This was the web edition of D.C. Diagnosis, STAT’s weekly newsletter about the politics and policy of health and medicine. Sign up here to receive it in your inbox.

Source: STAT