HPM Faculty News

Trump to FDA: Why is Europe beating us on vaccine?

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POLITICO — A president who preached "America First" is demanding to know why the U.S. could end up third in the global vaccine race. Meanwhile outside public health experts also urge haste as the pandemic worsens. "Every day that goes by is 2,000 people dead. I don't know another circumstance where waiting on drug approval has such an impact on mortality," said HPM's Walid Gellad . "Sometimes in a crisis, you might have to cut corners."  

Monoclonal antibody drugs raise hopes for keeping high-risk COVID-19 patients out of the hospital. But it’s complicated.

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PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER — Monoclonal antibodies are not magic bullets. They must be given intravenously in a hospital or infusion center where COVID-19 poses a particular danger to immune-compromised chemotherapy patients. HPM's Walid Gellad summarizes “We don’t want people running to the emergency room to get this therapy. We don’t want people running to infusion centers, where there are patients with cancer."  

A look inside schools’ reopening decisions, HPM's Donohue weighs in

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TRIB LIVE - HPM's Julie Donohue said certain protocols are critical to stemming potential transmission, naming strategies such as universal mask-wearing, heightened sanitizing and hygiene practices, and “cohorting”—dividing students and staff into distinct groups with minimal interaction between each other—to reduce their number of contacts throughout the day. “It’s an incredibly challenging set of decisions to make,”  

As the pandemic worsens, ‘Please…just stay home’ advises Roberts

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MOUNTAIN STATE SPOTLIGHT -  As COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations in West Virginia are rising and the holidays loom, the worst may be ahead. Regardless of all else, the most important thing going forward is our individual behaviors, said Mark Roberts, chairman of health policy and management.    

Pitt researchers find Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansions led to earlier detection of cancer

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TRIB LIVE - Findings from a research team led by HPM's Coleman Drake provide evidence that expanding insurance coverage is a potential avenue to improve cancer outcomes. “It’s really about getting people into the normal health care system rather than presenting at the ED (emergency department) or some other environment when things go wrong,” Drake said. “It allows people to access preventive health care.”  

Why do COVID death rates seem to be falling? Derek Angus weighs in.

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NATURE - Critical-care physician Derek Angus (BCHS ’92) of the University of Pittsburgh says that his hospital’s statistics team also saw reductions over time. “Without question, we’ve noticed a drop in mortality,” says Angus. “All things being equal, patients have a better chance of getting out alive.”  

Gellad weighs in on implications of latest COVID-19 treatment and vaccine options

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NEW YORK TIMES - “It’s kind of the best times for these therapies to enter, because they can have an impact,” said HPM's Walid F. Gellad, who leads Pitt's Center for Pharmaceutical Policy and Prescribing. “It’s also the worst time because we don’t have enough doses, and it’s going to add to the backlog of testing.”  

Gilead’s Covid drug win could clog pipeline for other treatments

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BLOOMBERG LAW - The future of Covid-19 treatment research is cloudier after the FDA approved Gilead Sciences Inc.'s remdesivir. The approval solidifies the standard of care for hospitalized virus patients in the U.S. Shortages of remdesivir could slow down the development of other new Covid-19 drugs that might now be required to use it in their clinical trials. The approval doesn’t necessarily block other virus treatments from being authorized, ... 

Gellad criticizes how Science gets political as Trump touts experimental coronavirus drugs

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AXIOS - "We have an emergency use authorization that I want to get signed immediately," Trump said in a video Thursday. "The problem is every therapy for coronavirus has become politicized—every single therapy, and that's the last thing you want in a pandemic, so this is just next in line," said the Department of Health Policy and Management's  Walid Gellad , director of the Center for Pharmaceutical Policy and Prescribing at the University of P... 

Roberts says Gov. Wolf’s restrictions saved many lives

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PHILADELPHIA TRIBUNE - Nearly 8,000 COVID-19 deaths have been confirmed in Pennsylvania. Had fewer restrictions been imposed, that toll likely would have been several times higher, said Mark Roberts, director of the Public Health Dynamics Lab. “It’s easy to project that there would be two to three times the deaths, at a minimum, with less social distancing.” His team developed a model to estimate the impacts of closings and reopenings.  

Jalal research shows fatal overdoses in U.S. rebounded in 2019

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TRIBUNE-DEMOCRAT – “We are concerned that policymakers may have interpreted the one-year downturn in 2018 as evidence for an especially effective national response or the start of a long-term trend,” said lead author Hawre Jalal, HPM. “Unfortunately, that isn’t supported by the data.” The data suggests there has been a 5.6 percent increase in fatal overdoses nationwide since 2018.  

Roberts on COVID-19 in Pittsburgh: A timeline of the first six months

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PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE - "We had a pretty good early run," said HPM Chair Mark Roberts, director of the Public Health Dynamics Lab. "If you look at the graph of cases over time, back in April, we were doing pretty well with surprisingly few cases." The peak day of the early months of COVID-19 came with 73 new cases on April 3 - a number that would be considered an average day today.   

Hershey on how courts may reconsider temporary coronavirus restrictions as pandemic drags on

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WASHINGTON POST – HPM's Tina Batra Hershey agrees that there's a need for executive administrations to “provide clear and transparent communications about what they’re doing, to ensure that there is a tailored response.” That might mean articulating what steps will be taken to measure whether restrictions are working and when they can be lifted, she said. “I think the judiciary will require more from the executive.”  

Steroids can save lives among COVID-19 patients, UPMC and Pitt researchers say

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NPR – Pitt Medical Center’s Derek Angus (BCHS ’92) said that while some worried that steroids could also prevent the body from fighting off the coronavirus, all the coordinated studies reached the same conclusion, which is, I guess we have to stop our trials. It is reassuring that we can get randomized trials executed successfully and rapidly in the face of a pandemic, and it definitely puts us on a sure footing.  

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