Volume VI, Issue 10

March 11,  2019
FL Senate Signs Off On Smokable Marijuana 
WH
Dara Kam reports for News Service of Florida via Health News Florida on  Mar 8, 2019:

Bowing to a demand by Gov. Ron DeSantis, the Florida Senate on Thursday <3.7.19> overwhelmingly approved a measure that would allow patients to smoke medical marijuana if doctors deem it the proper treatment. Under the proposal, patients could buy up to 2.5 ounces of medical pot during a 35-day period and would be able to possess up to 4 ounces of cannabis at any given time. Smoking of medical cannabis --- which would have to be purchased from state-authorized operators --- would be banned in public places. The Senate's 34-4 vote in favor of the measure ( SB 182) came two days after the start of the 2019 legislative session, and the House is expected to take up the measure Wednesday <3.13.19>.

WIM
Cathy Jordan, a plaintiff in the case, credits a daily regimen of smoking marijuana with keeping her alive decades after doctors predicted she would die from Lou Gehrig's disease, according to Ms. Kam. Jordan, who grows her own pot and who is highly regarded by pot advocates nationwide, testified last year that smoking marijuana treats a variety of life-threatening side effects of the disease and that other forms of ingestion don't have the same positive impact.
Regulators just approved the first new depression drug since the 1980s, and some see blockbuster potential
WH
Erin Brodwin reports for Business Insider on 3/5/19:
 
On Tuesday <3.5.19>, a drug inspired by ketamine and made by J ohnson & Johnson became the first new depression drug in 35 years. Regulators approved the drug, a nasal spray called Spravato, which is a brand name for esketamine. The approval comes on the heels of a favorable vote from experts last month who evaluated the drug's safety and effectiveness.
 
WIM
According to Ms. Brodwin:

The approval is a significant milestone. Depression is the world's leading cause of poor health and disability, and as many as one in three patients don't get relief from existing antidepressants. For several decades, psychiatrists and other mental-health researchers have expressed optimism about positive findings related to ketamine, esketamine's chemical cousin. One group even called the drug "the most important discovery in half a century."
HHS: U.S. Kidney Care Getting Revamp
WH
Rebecca Pifer reports for Healthcare Dive on 3/4/19:

The Trump administration is working on a new payment approach for treating the roughly 37 million Americans with kidney disease, according to CMS Administrator Seema Verma and HHS Secretary Alex Azar. HHS is also looking at ways to make more kidneys available for transplant, including developing wearable and implantable artificial kidneys.

"What you really want is the prevention of End Stage Renal Disease from developing," HHS Deputy Administrator Adam Boehler said. "If it develops, you want [patients to have a] transplant wherever possible; if not, [treatment] at home wherever possible. It should be a last resort that people go to a dialysis center."

WIM
Dialysis services providers' stocks plummeted pre-market Monday <3.4.19> as the news first surfaced, with DaVita and Fresenius Medical Care's tickers falling 4% and 3%, respectively. The government's emphasis on home dialysis would likely help CVS Health, which plans to offer home dialysis, and startups like Somatus and Cricket Health, according to the article.

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