Hello and happy Monday, readers! I hope you had a wonderful weekend.
There’s a silver lining to a slew of unfortunate, recent public health news.
The world could very well eradicate malaria—a mosquito-borne infectious disease that killed nearly 430,000 people in 2015 alone and produced nearly 200 million cases across 87 countries in 2017—by 2050, according to a new report from public health experts. But the effort would require about $2 billion (per year) in funding for malaria prevention and treatment programs.
The study/joint commentary in the Lancet doesn’t mince words on the enormity of the task. But researchers said malaria could well join the ranks of small pox, when it comes to disease eradication, if on-the-ground treatment and prevention efforts get things right.
“For too long, malaria eradication has been a distant dream, but now we have evidence that malaria can and should be eradicated by 2050,” said Sir Richard Feachem, co-chair of the Lancet Commission on malaria eradication and global health director at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), in a statement.
“This report shows that eradication is possible within a generation. But to achieve this common vision, we simply cannot continue with a business as usual approach. The world is at a tipping point, and we must instead challenge ourselves with ambitious targets and commit to the bold action needed to meet them.”
This is a tricky field—one filled with semantics and setbacks. Declaring a region free or eradicated of a disease could have a very specific meaning (for example, not observing new cases for a set period of time, rather than completely “eliminating” infections) that the general public may not be attuned to.
And as the scientists themselves admit, disease elimination has proved a tug-of-war challenge. You don’t even have to look far from home to see it. But it’s an encouraging development nonetheless.
Read on for the day’s news.
Sy Mukherjee, @the_sy_guy, email@example.com
Juul gets hit with FDA warning over vaping safety claims. The e-cig safety saga isn't abating anytime soon. On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned vaping giant JUUL to stop marketing its vaping products as, ostensibly, safer than other nicotine products currently available on the market. "E-cigarettes may be safer than traditional tobacco, but their producers must demonstrate evidence of this to FDA before making such a claim," said acting FDA chief Ned Sharpless in a statement.
Novartis vows to reform its data integrity measures. Novartis has a data integrity problem following a scandal over its $2.1 million gene therapy. Now, the Swiss drug giant is trying to fix the issue at hand, asserting it will provide voluntary data notifications to the FDA ahead of time. "We are making a voluntary commitment to notify the FDA within five business days of receipt by our quality (control) organisation of any credible allegation related to data integrity impacting any pending application in the Novartis Group," said CEO Vas Narasimhan in a conference call.
Acadia Pharma shares soar on dementia drug data. Acadia Pharma stock rose more than 63% in Monday trading after the company announced unexpectedly positive clinical trial results for a dementia drug. The late-stage study of pimavanserin, meant to treat dementia-related psychosis, reportedly bested placebo in the late-stage study (though we don't know the exact data at this point). Stay tuned, though—dementia and mental health drugs have a long history of false starts and disappointments.
THE BIG PICTURE
WHO: 1 person dies by suicide every 40 seconds. The World Health Organization (WHO) confirms reports from a number of other pubic health agencies: Suicides are claiming more and more young lives. In fact, according to the WHO, one person dies by suicide every 40 seconds—some 800,000 people every year. "Suicide is a global public health issue. All ages, sexes and regions of the world are affected," said the agency. (Reuters)
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