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What We’re Reading: Merck Halts Skin Cancer Trial; GLP-1 Drug Usage in the US; Psychedelic Therapy Gains Momentum

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Challenges in developing next-generation cancer therapies persist; research indicates widespread utilization and hurdles in affordability and access to glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) medications; legislation seeks to legalize therapeutic use of psychedelics in California.

Merck Discontinues Experimental Skin Cancer Treatment Due to Side Effects

Merck has halted trials of its experimental combination treatment, vibostolimab, in patients with severe skin cancer due to significant side effects, marking a setback for the promising anti-T-cell immunoreceptor with immunoglobulin (Ig) and immunoreceptor tyrosine-based inhibitory motif domains (anti-TIGIT) immunotherapy class, according to Reuters. The decision followed an analysis indicating the treatment failed to achieve statistically significant improvements in recurrence-free survival compared with pembrolizumab (Keytruda) alone.

Surging Demand and Access Challenges: Insights Into GLP-1 Drug Usage in the US

New survey data from KFF shed light on the extensive usage of glucagon-like-peptide-1 (GLP-1) drugs in the US, with approximately 1 in 8 adults having used them at some point, according to CNN. While most usage is for managing chronic conditions such as diabetes or heart disease, a significant portion of adults use these drugs solely for weight loss, despite them not being FDA-approved for this purpose. Challenges in affordability and access persist, with high costs and limited supply prompting concerns and calls for policy changes, particularly regarding Medicare coverage.

Push for Psychedelic Therapy Gains Momentum in California

A proposed bill in California aims to legalize the therapeutic use of psychedelics, which have shown potential in treating conditions such as PTSD, anxiety, and addiction among first responders and veterans, according to Kaiser Health News. While federal law prohibits most psychedelic drugs, California may join other states and cities in allowing their supervised use in approved locations under trained facilitators. Despite concerns over safety and equity, advocates have argued for the transformative effects of psychedelic therapy, citing personal experiences and research findings.

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