THE MAN—AND THE MONEY—BEHIND PARAGON BIOSCIENCES: Three years ago, Jeff Aronin was widely reviled for hiking the price on a decades-old drug used to treat a rare form of muscular dystrophy. As patient advocates and congressional leaders vilified his Marathon Pharmaceuticals for price gouging, Aronin sold the drug before it ever hit the U.S. market, dropped out of a powerful industry lobbying group and quietly shuttered the Northbrook company.
But all the bad press didn’t dim his appeal to big-name investors Fidelity, George Soros and Valor Equity Partners. They’re among the backers who have pumped $1 billion into his latest venture Paragon Biosciences, which is plying the same market niche Aronin has worked in the past. READ MORE.
2020’S HOTTEST JOBS ARE IN HEALTH CARE: As in any downturn, there always are pockets of opportunity.
The pandemic has drawn attention to critical roles such as respiratory therapists and lab technicians. Epidemiologists are expected to be in demand as governments aim to be better prepared for outbreaks of communicable disease. As more business activity moves online, technologists are needed on platforms for telemedicine, virtual meetings and expanded e-commerce.
These jobs pay well and don’t necessarily require a bachelor’s degree, says Betsy Rahill, director of talent strategy at UChicago Medicine. “You don’t have to go to a four-year program.” READ MORE.
ADVOCATE CEO TOUTS TELEHEALTH IN DNC ROUNDTABLE: As Advocate Aurora Health notches some 613,000 virtual visits in the year so far, CEO Jim Skogsbergh says telehealth has become “a genie we will not put back in the bottle.”
Pre-COVID-19, the system had expected to complete 25,000 telehealth visits in 2020, Skogsbergh said during a Democratic National Convention roundtable discussion, Ensuring High Quality Health Care and a Strong Caring Economy
Advocate Aurora sponsored and was the “official health care provider” of the pandemic-diminished convention in Milwaukee last week.
UIC-DEVELOPED CONTRACEPTIVE GEL HEADS TO MARKET: A non-hormonal vaginal gel that can be used to prevent pregnancy has gained U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval. The contraceptive, Phexxi, was developed by University of Illinois at Chicago and is expected to hit the market in September, according to a statement from drug licensee Evofem Biosciences, Inc.
UIC College of Pharmacy professor Donald Waller developed the contraceptive in collaboration with Lourens Zaneveld of Rush University Medical Center as part of an effort that began over 20 years ago. It is the fourth drug developed by UIC researchers to achieve FDA approval, the school said in a statement.
STUDY: TECH, DATA CRITICALLY IMPORTANT TO CARDIAC CARE: More than 80 percent of physicians and hospital administrators surveyed in an Abbott Laboratories-commissioned study say technology and data is critical to addressing challenges before, during and after cardiovascular treatment, the North Chicago drugmaker said in a statement.
The report, Beyond Intervention, also found that 79 percent of patients have confidence in physicians’ decision-making, but they feel technology can help deliver more personalized care.
The study surveyed 1,432 physicians, health system administrators and patients around the globe from December 2019 through January 2020 to understand the effect of advancements in cardiovascular technology on patient care.
COVID-19 DEATHS CLIMB, LEAD BY MINORITIES: As many as 215,000 more people than usual died in the U.S. during the first seven months of 2020, with half the dead people of color, the Associated Press reports via Modern Healthcare. The new figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highlight a stark disparity: Deaths among minorities during the crisis have risen far more than they have among whites.
INSURERS’ COST SHARING WAIVERS FOR COVID-19 SET TO END: More than a third of people with individual and fully insured group coverage are in plans in which cost-sharing waivers for COVID-19 treatment have already expired or are slated to by the end of September, exposing plan members to potentially high out-of-pocket costs should they become sick, a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis found. More from Modern Healthcare.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: UI HEALTH NURSES AUTHORIZE STRIKE: Nurses at the University of Illinois Hospital and Clinics authorized a potential strike, demanding the hospital limit the number of patients assigned to nurses. The vote was overwhelmingly in favor of the strike authorization—995 to 12.
The hospital has rejected calls for a staffing ratio, instead proposing an acuity-based model, which tries to match staffing levels to patients’ needs. READ MORE.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: DUPAGE MEDICAL’S MUSCULOSKELETAL PROGRAM: The area’s largest independent doctors group it adding its name to what’s becoming a hub of facilities specializing in bone, joint and spine injuries with the launch of DuPage Medical Group’s Musculoskeletal Institute, led by one of the nation’s top orthopedic surgeons, Dr. Anthony Romeo. READ MORE.
CRAIN’S HEALTH CARE FORUM LOOKS TO POST-PANDEMIC CARE: The coronavirus has revealed the flaws in how Americans pay for health care and the costs of neglecting basic health needs. Watch Crain’s Health Care Forum strategists unpack challenges in keeping communities healthy and coverage affordable.
PEOPLE ON THE MOVE:
• Xeris Pharmaceuticals, Inc. has promoted John P. Shannon to president and chief operating officer. Shannon, who joined Xeris as COO in 2017, will continue to report to CEO and chairman Paul R. Edick.
• Dr. Harry Wilkins has been named president and chief executive officer of has joined Itasca-based Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network. The network’s first African American CEO, Wilkins begins his new role Oct. 19, succeeding Kevin Cmunt, who led the organization for eight years. Wilkins was a trauma surgeon for 36 years, most recently at Blessing Hospital in Quincy, Ill.
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