Why we need to care for our nation’s mental health, too

August 25, 2020
ICYMI: Yesterday, we opened nominations for the Buzz of BIO at the BIO Investor Forum Digital, taking place October 13-15, 2020. If your company is seeking the next round of financing or hoping to make a connection to help take your product to the next phase, you’ll…

ICYMI: Yesterday, we opened nominations for the Buzz of BIO at the BIO Investor Forum Digital, taking place October 13-15, 2020. If your company is seeking the next round of financing or hoping to make a connection to help take your product to the next phase, you’ll want to apply! Learn more.

And today, we dig deeper into how COVID-19 is affecting the mental health crisis in America—and how digital technology can help, now and long term—as well as a BIO member cleaning up kitchens and skies. Here are around 800 words, 4 minutes.

Why we need to care for our nation’s mental health, too

COVID-19 has exacerbated the mental health crisis in America—particularly for communities of color and the most vulnerable patients. In the latest episode of the I AM BIO Podcast, we hear from an innovative biotech CEO about what we can do now and long term to ensure access to mental health care.

The case for social distancing is clear—but we’re paying a steep price for it in terms of mental health, says BIO President and CEO Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath in the latest episode of the I AM BIO Podcast.

Just look at the numbers: 1 in 10 Americans had seriously considered suicide in the previous 30 days, according to a CDC survey in June, and 4 in 10 are coping with addiction, mental health challenges, or both. 

Why is this happening? “The very conditions that we're living through right now—and think about them in a certain order: isolation, fear, loss of loved ones, economic hardship—these are the stressors that contribute to mental illness,” explained Richard Pops, Chairman and CEO of Alkermes, which develops long-lasting injectables to treat alcohol and opioid dependence and serious mental illness. 

The pandemic has been especially difficult for people with opioid dependency. “Patients are having trouble getting in front of caregivers,” he continued. “It’s an acute moment and I’m quite concerned about a resurgence of opioid overdose deaths.” 

And both the COVID-19 crisis and the mental health crisis are exacerbated by racial disparities in health care. “The social determinants of health are so critically important and get amplified.”   

But: “The good news is that people are becoming aware of it right now,” he added. Regulations have also been eased to facilitate telemedicine and telepsychiatry as well as the use of digital technologies in the drug-development process, which could improve the standard of care and R&D long term.   

“I’m going to continue to believe that we will ultimately triumph over COVID,” Pops concluded. “But what we want to have then is actually a treatment system that learned those lessons and is even better for patients.”

Listen to the whole thing to learn more about what Alkermes is developing, how digital tech can help get new medicines to patients, and why racial disparities in health care have exacerbated both crises. 

Listen at www.bio.org/podcast or your favorite podcast platform, including AppleGoogle, or Spotify.

Learn more about the BIOEquality Agenda and how the industry is coming together to increase access to medicines for vulnerable communities.


More Health Care News: 

Reuters: Fauci says rushing out a vaccine could jeopardize testing of others
“One of the potential dangers if you prematurely let a vaccine out is that it would make it difficult, if not impossible, for the other vaccines to enroll people in their trial,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci.


This company is cleaning up kitchens and carbon emissions

BIO member LanzaTech announced a new partnership to develop household cleaning products that will make your kitchen—and the skies—sparkle. 

LanzaTech is a carbon recycling company that turns carbon waste and feedstock into biochemicals and biofuels—like sustainable aviation fuel made from recycled waste carbon gases.

Now, they’ve partnered with Switzerland’s largest retail company to launch household cleaning products with LanzaTech’s ethanol made from recycled steel mill emissions.

The products are now on sale in Migros supermarkets across Switzerland—and the company hopes to develop packaging using the same technology, too.

Watch to learn more about this technology:

How the LanzaTech technology works

What they’re saying: “Today marks an important milestone in our goal to create a new carbon economy, locking waste carbon into new material cycles and making single use carbon a thing of the past,” said LanzaTech CEO Jennifer Holmgren. “This is the circular economy in action, an enabler to a future where there is no such thing as carbon waste.”

What’s next: “LanzaTech is working with conversion partners across the supply chain to use chemical grade ethanol for the production of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) for packaging applications. In addition, LanzaTech is developing direct routes for the production of commodity chemicals from gas emissions to ensure further carbon reductions relative to fossil pathways,” according to the press release.


More Agriculture and Environment News: 

AP: Thousands allowed to bypass environmental rules in pandemic
“Thousands of oil and gas operations, government facilities and other sites have won permission to stop monitoring for hazardous emissions or otherwise bypass rules intended to protect health and the environment because of the coronavirus outbreak.”  

BIO Beltway Report

President Trump’s Tuesday: He’s in Washington, where First Lady Melania Trump will give her RNC remarks from the newly renovated Rose Garden. As of this writing, the drug pricing executive order has still not been published. (More on that from STAT News and The New York Times.) 

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: In addition to the First Lady, Day 2 of the RNC will feature Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).

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