What We’re Reading: EQRx “Reset”; Unequal Alzheimer Drug Access; DEA Extends Telemedicine Prescribing

Biotech company EQRx discards low-cost drug plan, cuts its therapy programs to 1, and slashes staff in “reset”; health care systems’ preparation for new Alzheimer disease drug takes location and resources into consideration; the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will extend telemedicine prescribing for certain controlled medications through at least November 11.

EQRx Discards Low-Cost Drug Plan, Slashes Staff in “Reset”

Biotech company EQRx is discarding its plan to provide drugs that are usually expensive at lower prices, reported Fierce Biotech. The manufacturer is also cutting ties with 2 of its partners, letting go of 170 staff members, and striking all but 1 of its assets from its pipeline. The restructuring has been titled a “reset” of EQRx’s business and clinical focuses, according to a May 8 earnings call and a corresponding release.

Alzheimer Drug Access Might Depend on Zip Code

The launch of long-awaited Alzheimer treatments could be a case of the haves and have nots, as clinics and academic hospitals are preparing for the rollout, and some rural health systems said they’d rather wait to see if Medicare covers the drugs and more evidence emerges to support their efficacy before adding them to their sparsely staffed health care systems, according to The Wall Street Journal. The FDA conditionally approved lecanemab-irmb (Leqembi) in January and has a deadline of July 6 to decide on full approval.

DEA Extends Telemedicine Prescribing for Controlled Meds

The federal government will permit doctors to continue using telemedicine to prescribe certain medications for anxiety, pain, and opioid addiction, lengthening for 6 months the emergency flexibilities that were originally established during the COVID-19 pandemic, reported The Washington Post. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration announced the extension Tuesday, 2 days prior to the expiration of the original telemedicine flexibilities with the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency. The extended permission will run through November 11, 2023, but if the provider has an established telemedicine relationship with a patient, it is extended through November 11, 2024.

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