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Brainstorm Health: Child Opioid Deaths, Dermira Stock, Medicaid Cuts

Hey there, readers—happy Monday! This is Sy.

By now, the story of the opioid addiction and overdose crisis is well-known. But a new study published in the journal Pediatrics homes in on how the epidemic is afflicting America’s children—including a near-doubling of child hospitalizations due to opioid overdoses between 2004 and 2015.

These overdoses weren’t just driven by adolescents (children between the ages of 12 and 17) experimenting with or abusing addictive drugs they had in their reach, though. A significant number of accidental hospitalizations afflicting younger kids actually involved methadone, which is used to treat other kinds of opioid dependence in the first place (and has become an increasingly commonplace prescription in the midst of the epidemic).

“[O]ne-third [of opioid-related hospitalizations] were for kids under age 6. And while most children had overdosed on prescription opioids or illicit narcotics like heroin, a significant number of children under 6—about 20%—were treated for methadone overdoses,” wrote the study authors.

Read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee


Genomics testing market keeps growing with $200 million Helix round. Genetic testing service Helix expects to raise $200 million in a Series B financing round from investors like DFJ Growth, the Mayo Clinic, and others. Helix’s hope is to act as a consolidated, concierge service of sorts to manage genomic data while connecting that data’s owners to the growing number of services involved in the genomics space.


Acne drug maker Dermira tanks. Shares of Dermira sunk more than 64% Monday on news that the company’s acne drug failed two critical clinical trials, and that the company would be pulling development of the therapy. (Fortune)


Another big change to Medicaid. The Trump administration has cleared a number of Medicaid changes sought by the state of Arkansas, including work requirements to qualify for the federal-state partnership program that provides health coverage to tens of millions of poor and disabled Americans. The administration has been open to conservative reforms such as work requirements and nominal premiums; however, it didn’t explicitly grant Arkansas’ request to lower the financial threshold for qualifying for Medicaid under Obamacare’s expansion of the program, which extended it to people making 138% of the Federal Poverty Level. Arkansas’ proposal to lower that threshold to 100% FPL is expected to throw about 60,000 residents off the program. (Reuters)


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Produced by Sy Mukherjee

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