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What We’re Reading: Medicare Coverage of Aduhelm; US Life Expectancy Drops; Pandemic-Induced Trauma


CMS issues final plan for aducanumab (Aduhelm) coverage; 2021 sees further drop in US life expectancy; individuals have presented with symptoms of trauma throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Aduhelm NCD Issued

According to a new plan released yesterday, Medicare will restrict coverage of the controversial Alzheimer disease drug aducanumab (Aduhelm) to those participating in clinical trials, STAT News reports. The proposal will also apply to any future monoclonal antibodies directed against amyloid plaque approved by the FDA for treatment of the disease; Eli Lilly has begun to submit one of its treatments for FDA approval. The National Coverage Determination (NCD) likely means some interested patients won’t be able to access the drug, although CMS does not require patients to be treated at hospital-based clinics. Under the NCD, officials created a path for drugs that do demonstrate a clinical benefit to patients before they are approved.

US Life Expectancy Further Declines

Drops in US life expectancy in 2020 were the largest seen since World War II, but new data, which have yet to be peer reviewed, show that life expectancy decreased a further 0.4 years in 2021, CNN reports. In comparison, life expectancy dropped by 1.9 years in 2020, while in the decade preceding the pandemic, it changed by less than 0.1 years annually, CDC data show. In 19 other high-income countries, life expectancy actually rebounded in 2021, with an average increase of 0.3 years. In 2021, average US life expectancy was 76.6 years, more than 5 years lower than averages seen in peer nations.

Trauma Symptoms Seen Throughout Pandemic

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues throughout the world, experts are identifying trauma-like symptoms in individuals faced with navigating the uncertain and stressful times, NPR reports. Although usually associated with acute events like violence or assault, trauma symptoms can stem from protracted catastrophes, with one expert noting that viewing the world as unsafe can itself be a symptom of trauma. The slow-moving and escalating nature of the pandemic can also make it harder for patients to categorize and recognize the symptoms throughout a disaster that doesn’t have a clear beginning or end point.

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