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What We’re Reading: New Infectious Disease Center; Alabama Opioid Settlement; Lack of Diversity in Alzheimer Trials


CDC launches a new center to forecast infectious diseases; Alabama reaches settlement with opioid manufacturers; lack of diversity seen in Alzheimer disease trials.

New CDC Center Launches

The new CDC Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics launched yesterday, the Associated Press reports. The aim of the center is to serve as an early warning system to help guide the response to COVID-19 and future pandemics. Although the CDC has received temporary authority for COVID-19 data collection, the agency currently relies more on voluntary reporting and complex data agreements with states, experts explained. The new Center’s $200 million in funding came from the 2021 coronavirus relief package and it has already awarded $21 million to academic institutions working to develop forecasting methods.

Alabama Opioid Settlement Announced

A day after Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen reached a $99 million settlement with West Virginia, The Hill reports today that Alabama reached a $276 million settlement with the company, McKesson, and Endo Pharmaceutical over their roles in the opioid epidemic. Although the settlement does not mean an admission of guilt, Johnson & Johnson is slated to pay the state $70.3 million this year and McKesson will pay $141 million over 9 years. The funds will be used to help support communities in the state affected by the epidemic. Alabama and West Virginia opted out of pursuing the $26 billion national settlement with Johnson & Johnson, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson.

Black Patients Underrepresented in Alzheimer Trials

New reporting from Bloomberg highlights the lack of Black participants in Alzheimer disease trials throughout the United States. Although Black individuals are more likely than their White counterparts to develop the disease, this population only makes up 2% of clinical trial participants. For context, 9.6% of Americans aged 65 or older are Black, while clinical trials conducted for the newly approved drug Aduhelm included just 19 Black individuals out of 3285 participants. Similar disparities were also seen in trials for Parkinson disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and spinal muscular atrophy, according to Bloomberg analyses, though these diseases are slightly less common in Black individuals.

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