A policy win for vulnerable patients

March 17, 2021
Another St. Patrick’s Day at home—thank biotech for beer! Today, we have news from CMS that’s a win for the most vulnerable patients, as well as a look at how biotech can help solve growing food insecurity.  (780 words, 3 minutes, 54 seconds)
BIO

Another St. Patrick’s Day at home—thank biotech for beer! Today, we have news from CMS that’s a win for the most vulnerable patients, as well as a look at how biotech can help solve growing food insecurity.  (780 words, 3 minutes, 54 seconds)

 

A policy win for vulnerable patients

 
 

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced they will not move forward with a proposed change to the Part D Payment Modernization Model that could have resulted in seniors losing access to critical drugs—a win for the most vulnerable patients.

Catch up: The outgoing Trump administration announced a new policy that would have allowed insurance plans to cover fewer drugs in their formularies in six protected classes (antidepressants, antipsychotics, anticonvulsants, immunosuppressants for treatment of transplant rejection, antiretrovirals for treatment of HIV, and antineoplastics).

Medicare Part D sponsors have been required to cover ALL FDA-approved drugs in these six classes—but the proposed change could have resulted in “seniors losing access to treatments they rely on,” explained BIO President and CEO Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath

Yesterday, CMS announced they would NOT move forward with the proposed change—here’s the full update on the CMS website.

This is a win for patients—made possible in part by the patient groups who worked around the clock to engage CMS on this important issue.  

 

More Health Care News:

CNN: First children vaccinated in Moderna's Phase 2/3 pediatric COVID-19 vaccine trial
“The clinical trial, called the KidCOVE study, will enroll approximately 6,750 children in the US and Canada between the ages of 6 months and 11 years old.”

Fast Company: Pfizer’s CEO reflects on a year of discovery and what he thinks critics get wrong about vaccine pricing
“We were highly motivated to be able to do a good thing for humanity and both the collaboration and the competitive spirit was what helped us to create what we created,” he said.

 
 
 
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How biotech can boost access to nutrition

 
 

March is National Nutrition Month—but food insecurity is on the rise in wealthy and developing nations alike. But thanks to biotechnology, however, we have tools to boost access to nutrition in a sustainable, climate-smart way.  

40% of Americans have experienced food insecurity for the first time during the pandemic, according to a November survey—with 37% of parents saying they’ve skipped meals to ensure their children have enough to eat.

This is a global problem, with hunger on the rise in Europe as well as the developing world, The New York Times reported yesterday.

One of our best hopes for ending food insecurity is advancing biotechnology, BIO explained in testimony for the March 11 House Agriculture hearing on food insecurity.

With innovations like gene editing and synthetic biology, we can maintain crop yields in the face of drought, increase the vitamin and mineral contents of plants, and even create new food ingredients and alternative proteins—all of which has a direct bearing on improved food security and poverty alleviation. 

It can also eliminate food deserts and reduce food waste. As one example, about 40% of apples in the supply chain are wasted, but BIO member Okanagan Specialty Fruits (OSF) has used biotechnology to create non-browning apples.

Ultimately, better nutrition will help address challenges like obesity and diabetes,  which have made the pandemic more deadly here than anywhere else in the world. In a speech to the Democratic National Convention last Fall, Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath noted, "Soon, science will drive us toward universal nutrition."

Fostering enhanced nutritional opportunities in economically disadvantaged communities is part of the BIOEquality focus to promote health equity and part of BIO’s efforts to champion broad access to biotech breakthroughs and scientific equality under the organization's new strategic pillars.

If we want to tackle our global challenges, from food insecurity to climate change and COVID-19, we need to invest in science and innovative technology—learn more.  

 
 
 
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Mary Ross.jpg

The first Native American woman engineer, Mary G. Ross (1908-2008) paved the way for historic space missions—as well as for Native Americans in STEM.

After earning her Bachelor’s and Master’s in mathematics, Ross became the first Native American woman to earn a professional certification in engineering, from UCLA. 

In 1942, she was hired by Lockheed Martin, where she designed fighter jets during WWII. A decade later, she was the only Native American among 40 founding members of the company’s secret “Skunk Works” program, where much of her groundbreaking work on interplanetary spacecraft, ballistic missiles, and satellites remains classified today. 

A math and science educator in the Ozarks during the Great Depression, Ross was dedicated to recruiting Native Americans, particularly young women, into STEM education programs. (It runs in the family: Ross’s grandfather, Cherokee Chief John Ross, established the Cherokee Female Seminary, the first school of higher education for women west of the Mississippi, in 1847.)

 
BIO Beltway Report
BIO Beltway Report
 
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President Biden’s Wednesday: Attending St. Patrick’s Day mass in Wilmington, DE, then back to the White House for a virtual meeting with Prime Minister of Ireland H.E. Micheál Martin.

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: As the Senate gets ready to vote on Health and Human Services (HHS) nominee Xavier Becerra, STAT News looks at the challenges ahead for the agency.

 
 
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