7 days in healthcare (May 20th-26th, 2024)

 

Summary

Biomedicine

  • Other uses of weight loss drugs: Weight loss drugs can reduce heart attacks by 20%, in what could be the biggest advance in this disease since statins.
  • Possible cheaper MRI equipment: A cheaper MRI machine can democratize access. MRIs have meant a spectacular advance in medicine by allowing images of soft tissues. But they are expensive and complex machines. The new devices allow us to spend a fraction of the energy and produce almost no noise. The development is by a team from the University of Hong Kong.
  • A revolutionary vaccine to combat HIV: This disease until now was refractory to the development of a vaccine for it. However, four publications in Science lay the foundations for developing formulas that allow obtaining antibodies against the virus.

Global Health

  • New covid variants: New covid variants (FLIRT) activate fear of an increase in cases in summer. The new variants of covid are spreading throughout the world. KP2, one of the variants, already represents 28.2% of cases in the USA. The WHO has said that FLIRT variants have already been found in 14 European countries, as well as Israel.
  • New version of the Global Burden of Disease (GBD): The publication in The Lancet of the GBD 2021 Causes of Death Collaborators analyzes the global burden of the disease and life expectancy. 288 causes of death and life expectancy in 204 countries are studied and territories for the period 1990-2021. Globally, life expectancy increased between 1990 and 2019, which has been interrupted by the pandemic.
  • New effort in vaccine research: Given the proliferation of vaccines against different diseases, the idea is to move from monopathogenic formulations, difficult to administer by any health system, to combinations against different diseases. A research effort is proposed in this field.

International health policy

  • Fall in overdose deaths in the USA: Overdose deaths fell in the USA in 2023 for the first time in the last 5 years, which is basically attributed to the decrease in deaths from synthetic opioids, mainly fentanyl, although deaths by stimulants, such as cocaine and methamphetamine, increased.
  • The Nuffield Trust (a major British health think tank) analyzes the changes in the NHS as a result of the increase in private activity: How private healthcare has changed British healthcare. In real terms, trusts (hospitals) spent £1.6bn in 2019/20; but this has risen to 3.12 billion in 2022/2023. Since Covid there has been a substantial increase in spending on the NHS purchasing private care.
  • Important hospital reform in Germany: Bankrupt hospitals in Germany approve a broad reform, which consists of the closure of part of the 1,700 hospitals, the most important reform in the last 20 years. Social Democratic German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said there were too many hospitals and that Germany has neither the financial means nor the medical or nursing staff for that number. Its application will take about ten years and a transformation fund of 50,000 million euros has been allocated to implement it, half of which is borne by the federated states and the other half by the federal government.
  • Problems of private health insurers in Latin America: Both the ISAPRES in Chile (Boric government) and the EPS in Colombia (Petro government) are suffering very serious problems, which threaten their continuity.

National Health Policy (Spain)

  • The government proposes changes in private healthcare and its collaboration with the public system: The Ministry of Health puts out the draft Law on Public Management and Integrity of the SNS for public consultation. According to the text made public and the minister’s statements, the law proposes, among other things, to repeal Law 15/1997 (which established the framework for the participation of different forms of public and private management in the provision of public service and which was approved by broad consensus), as well as establish discrimination between private companies with business benefit and charitable companies. It is more than doubtful that this law will be approved, given the situation of the legislature, and, even in the highly unlikely event that it were approved, that it will have a significant impact, since the management of health services is transferred. However, it seems that modifying the MUFACE model is not on the government’s agenda.
  • In Madrid, the white tides return: This Sunday the white tides returned to Madrid, this time with the presence of the Minister of Health, in what seems a gesture difficult to understand from an institutional point of view, given that the demonstration was clearly directed against the Community of Madrid, in which there are many healthcare problems but which, however, has one of the lowest waiting lists in the country.

Companies

  • International
    • Takeda and the Alzheimer’s vaccine: Takeda reaches a $2 billion agreement to develop a vaccine against Alzheimer’s, by the Swiss start-up AC Inmune.
    • The WHO supports Takeda’s dengue vaccine: It does so at a time when several Latin American countries are suffering the worst dengue epidemic in their history. The vaccine is aimed at minors between 6 and 16 years old.
  • National
    • Vithas reaches one million digital patients: They access their private health area through the app or the website.
    • Esteve grows: Esteve grows by double digits in 2023, up to 710 million euros.
    • Sanofi announces layoffs in Barcelona: The pharmaceutical company Sanofi announces a collective layoff of 89 people, the majority from its Barcelona center.

Biomedicine

Global Health

International health policy

  • Germany
    • Bankrupt hospitals in Germany approve a broad reform, which consists of the closure of part of the 1,700 hospitals, the most important reform in the last 20 years. Social Democratic German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said there were too many hospitals and that Germany has neither the financial means nor the medical or nursing staff for that number. Its application will take about ten years and to carry it out a transformation fund of 50,000 million euros has been allocated, half of which will be borne by the federated states and the other half by the federal government (https://elpais.com/society/2024-05-16/hospitals-in-bankruptcy-germany-approves-a-broad-reform-to-fight-against-its-precarious-situation.html)

National health policy

Companies