What We're Reading: Vision Loss Gene Therapy; Autism Spectrum Disorders; Dementia in the Hospital

New vision loss gene therapy gets a price tag below the expected $1 million mark; new evidence finds that the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders has plateaued; hospitals are ill-equipped to care for dementia patients, but a new effort could change that.

Vision Loss Gene Therapy Gets a Price

The first gene therapy to treat a hereditary form of vision loss has received a price tag that is just slightly below the expected $1 million price tag. According to The Wall Street Journal, Spark Therapeutics is charging $850,000 per patient for the new treatment. The price breaks down to $425,000 per eye injection. The company is offering to set up alternative payment arrangements with insurers. In addition to offering to issue partial refunds if a patient’s vision doesn’t improve significantly, Spark is considering ways to allow insurers to spread out payments.

Autism Spectrum Disorders Prevalence

Evidence from the National Health Interview Survey has found that prevalence of autism spectrum disorders has plateaued. Researchers found that 2.41% of US kids and teenagers had a form of autism between 2014 and 2016, reported Los Angeles Times. Boys were more likely to report a diagnosis than girls (3.54% versus 1.22%) and Latino children had a significantly lower prevalence (1.78%) compared with non-Latino blacks (2.36%) or non-Latino whites (2.71%).

Hospitals Ill-Equipped to Handle Dementia Patients

For patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, the chaotic, nosy atmosphere in hospitals can be difficult. However, Boston Globe reported that there is an effort underway in Massachusetts to improve the experiences of patients with dementia who end up in the hospital. Currently, hospital experiences tend to speed the decline of patients with dementia, who are required to stay in one place and are often sedated, which can cause side effects. The new initiative is encouraging hospitals to voluntarily implement a plan to address the needs of patients with dementia by establishing new protocols, training staff, and changing surroundings.

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