What We're Reading: Poor Air Quality Consequences; Executive Order on Drug Prices; Expanding a COVID-19 Trial

September 14, 2020
AJMC Staff
AJMC Staff

Poor air quality from wildfires may have an impact on mental health; a new executive order to lower prescription drug prices; Pfizer and BioNTech will expand the phase 3 trial of their COVID-19 vaccine.

Poor Air Quality in West Coast Linked With Feelings of Depression, Isolation

As wildfires on the West Coast continue to cause record-breaking poor air quality in states such as California and Oregon, a San Francisco psychologist suggested a link with increased feelings of isolation and depression. Reported by ABC7 San Francisco, fires and the resulting smoke, as well as the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) have caused residents to stay inside to avoid risk of pollution and infection. Due to increased levels of pollution and the potential of seasonal affective disorder, a doctor of clinical psychology noted an increase in patients reporting headaches and signs of depression.

President Trump Signs Executive Order on Prescription Drug Prices

Yesterday, President Donald Trump signed a new executive order that he touts will lower prescription drug prices, but experts say that the move is unlikely to provide any immediate impact. Reported by NPR, the executive order repeals an executive order from 2 months ago that Trump announced but did not release to negotiate a better deal with drug companies. The new executive order will expand the drugs covered by Trump’s proposed “most favored nations” pricing scheme, which will include both Medicare Part B and Medicare Part D beneficiaries.

Pfizer, BioNTech Move to Expand COVID-19 Vaccine Trial

Reported by STAT, Pfizer and BioNTech announced they will expand the phase 3 trial of their COVID-19 vaccine by 50%, totaling to 44,000 participants. The move, which will increase data on safety and efficacy, will also promote a more diverse population that will include adolescents as young as 16, people with stable HIV, and people with hepatitis C or B. However, it was noted that the Pfizer, BioNTech vaccine could prove to be the most difficult of the experimental vaccines to distribute if proven effective as it must be kept at a temperature of –70 degrees celsius.