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What We’re Reading: Expanding Obesity Drug Coverage; UK Doctors Strike; Black Infant Deaths Surge

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Expanding Medicare coverage for obesity drugs; tens of thousands of doctors begin 3-day strike; a surge in Black infant deaths in 2020 highlights racial disparities.

Health Economists Concerned Over Medicare Expansion for Obesity Drugs

Expanding Medicare prescription coverage of popular diabetes drugs repurposed as weight loss drugs—with trial data showing at least a 20% weight loss—would be “catastrophic,” believe health economists, according to Reuters. Medicare is currently forbidden to cover antiobesity drugs. However, if passed by Congress, The Treat and Reduce Obesity Act would allow Medicare to cover such expensive drugs as Wegovy (semaglutide) from Novo Nordisk and Mounjaro (tirzepatide) from Eli Lilly and Co, both with approximate annual costs of $13,000.

Doctors Begin 3-Day Strike in United Kingdom

Junior doctors (those early in their careers) around England went on strike on Monday, demanding better pay by UK state-funded hospitals and clinics, according to The Associated Press. This strike will include mass walkouts by tens of thousands of doctors until Wednesday, when the United Kingdom plans to release its latest budget agenda. According to reports by The British Medical Association, the trade union for doctors, pay for junior doctors has fallen 26% since 2008, with newly qualified doctors earning about $17 per hour.

Unexpected Black Infant Deaths Surge in 2020

A recent study found the rate of unexpected Black infant deaths rose drastically in 2020, according to CNN Health. Although the rate of sudden unexpected infant deaths for White babies dropped to its lowest since 2017, the rate for Black babies, already twice as high in 2017, spiked to nearly 3 times higher in 2020. Health experts are currently looking into potential underlying causes for this surge, which include racial and socioeconomic disparities that may be attributed to unsafe sleep, suffocation, or strangulation in bed—factors that made up a large portion of sudden infant deaths in 2020.

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