Welcome AHCJ’s newest members

About Andrew Smiley

Andrew Smiley is the executive director of AHCJ and its Center for Excellence in Health Care Journalism, and an assistant professor at the Missouri School of Journalism. Smiley comes to AHCJ from a sports broadcasting background, including nearly a decade at the Golf Channel/NBC Sports and a decade at ESPN, where he won an Emmy.

Welcome new membersPlease welcome our newest members of AHCJ.

All new members are welcome to stop by this post’s comment section to introduce themselves. Continue reading

Another Alzheimer’s treatment takes a different route than the rest

About Liz Seegert and Tara Haelle

Liz Seegert (@lseegert) is AHCJ’s topic leader on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today and other outlets. Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is medical studies core topic leader, helping journalists translate evidence into accurate information.

Photo: Isaac Mao via Flickr

Photo: Isaac Mao via Flickr

Editor’s Note: This is part 2 of a two-part package on the pipeline for Alzheimer’s disease drugs. Check out part 1.

While the controversy surrounding the FDA’s approval of Biogen’s adumanucab for Alzheimer’s disease continues, several other drug companies are developing their own therapies to prevent or slow the progression of the disease.

One of those new drugs, ALZ-801, began National Institute of Aging-funded Phase 3 trials on June 4. Unlike aducanumab or other drug candidates from Eisai, Eli Lilly and Roche, which attack amyloid plaque after it forms in the brain, biotech startup Alzheon, Inc. aims to help people with AD who have two copies of the ε4 allele of the apolipoprotein E gene (APOE4/4), a known risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. The goal is to prevent plaque from forming in the first place or prevent additional plaque from forming in those who already show clinical symptoms of Alzheimer’s. ALZ-801 is also the only drug currently under investigation administered orally and which uses precision medicine strategy (factoring in individual genetics and lifestyle), according to the company. Continue reading

Aside from Eli Lilly’s drug, what else is in the Alzheimer’s pipeline?

About Liz Seegert and Tara Haelle

Liz Seegert (@lseegert) is AHCJ’s topic leader on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today and other outlets. Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is medical studies core topic leader, helping journalists translate evidence into accurate information.

Photo: Kenny Stoltz via Flickr

Photo: Kenny Stoltz via Flickr

Eli Lilly recently announced that the FDA had granted a breakthrough therapy designation for donanemab, its investigational antibody therapy for Alzheimer’s disease. The designation means the FDA will expedite the drug’s development and review because it treats a serious condition, and early evidence has shown enough improvement on key clinical measures compared to other drugs on the market. This should mean it has a good chance of being effective in treating the condition.

Donanemab, also called N3pG, is an investigational antibody that targets a modified form of beta-amyloid, aiming to clear out plaques that have built up in the brain. Lilly’s Phase 2 trial, TRAILBLAZER-ALZ, studied the efficacy and safety of donanemab in patients with early, symptomatic Alzheimer’s. The results, which appeared in the May 6 New England Journal of Medicine, concluded that “donanemab resulted in a better composite score for cognition and for the ability to perform activities of daily living than placebo at 76 weeks, although results for secondary outcomes were mixed.” Continue reading

Expect more pushback from insurers and hospitals over rules to limit surprise bills

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. He welcomes questions and suggestions on insurance resources and tip sheets at joseph@healthjournalism.org.

Largest U.S. Health Insurers of 2021 by 2020 revenue.

ValuePenguin and LendingTree.Largest U.S. Health Insurers of 2021 by 2020 revenue. (Click to enlarge.)

On July 1, the nation’s largest health insurer, UnitedHealthcare (UHC), stopped paying out-of-network claims when its fully insured members seek non-emergency care outside of their local coverage areas, according to Nona Tepper’s reporting in Modern Healthcare.

UHC’s decision to end some out-of-network coverage caught hospitals, physicians and other providers by surprise, she wrote, adding that the move could be aimed at controlling costs and reducing payment to providers.

If providers are surprised, so too could be many of UHC’s 49 million members, particularly those who need to get care outside of their coverage areas, such as those who live in rural counties and those who need treatment for substance abuse, Tepper wrote. Continue reading

Vaccinations required for Health Journalism ’21; registration opens Thursday

About Andrew Smiley

Andrew Smiley is the executive director of AHCJ and its Center for Excellence in Health Care Journalism, and an assistant professor at the Missouri School of Journalism. Smiley comes to AHCJ from a sports broadcasting background, including nearly a decade at the Golf Channel/NBC Sports and a decade at ESPN, where he won an Emmy.

AHCJ Members,

We have been working hard to put the pieces together for our annual conference Oct. 28-31 in Austin, Texas, and registration for the conference will open July 15.

Our member survey made it clear that many of you are excited to get together in person for the annual conference, and you want to do so as safely as possible. To that end, and with the guidance of the board of directors, AHCJ will require in-person attendees, staff and all speakers to be vaccinated. Proof of vaccination will be required during the registration process.

We realize that some people cannot be vaccinated due to a medical or religious exemption. Members with such an exemption will be required to attest to their exemption during registration. Members with an exemption will also be required to wear a mask when indoors and participating in the conference program. Continue reading