Longer Looks: Treating Addiction; An Ex-Con’s Biotech Venture; And Oscar Takes On Patient Choice
Each week, KHN's Shefali Luthra finds interesting reads from around the Web.
The Washington Post:
She had already made it through one last night alone under the freeway bridge, through the vomiting and shakes of withdrawal, through cravings so intense she’d scraped a bathroom floor searching for leftover traces of heroin. It had now been 12 days since the last time Amanda Wendler used a drug of any kind, her longest stretch in years. “Clear-eyed and sober,” read a report from one drug counselor, and so Amanda, 31, had moved back in with her mother to begin the stage of recovery she feared most. (Eli Saslow, 7/23)
An Ex-Con Is Taking His Debt-Ridden, Cash-Burning Biotech Public. Why Are People Investing?
Its founder did time in federal prison for his role in the insider trading scandal that put Martha Stewart in handcuffs. Its CEO has a decades-old drug trafficking charge on his résumé. The company is also laden with debt and burning through cash at a rate that threatens to bankrupt it by year’s end. Yet biotech startup Kadmon has convinced investors to back an initial public offering that values the company at more than $800 million. It’s expected to raise $100 million on the New York Stock Exchange this week. (Damian Garde, 7/26)
The New York Times:
Skinny And 119 Pounds, But With The Health Hallmarks Of Obesity
Claire Walker Johnson of Queens was a medical mystery. No matter how much she ate, she never gained weight. And yet Ms. Johnson, with a long narrow face, had the conditions many obese people develop — Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and, most strikingly, a liver buried in fat. She and a very small group of very thin people like her have given scientists surprising clues to one of the most important questions about obesity: Why do fat people often develop serious and sometimes life-threatening medical conditions? (Gina Kolata, 7/22)
A Psychedelic Can Cure Heroin Withdrawal
Drug recovery begins, so the story goes, with a crucial insight when an addict hits “rock bottom” and finally becomes ready to change. Given the notorious savagery of heroin withdrawal—along with the perceived importance of insight —ibogaine sounds like a panacea. The trouble is, the problem with heroin addiction is not withdrawal. (Jessa Gamble, 7/25)
A Google-Backed Health Insurer Wants To Disrupt Insurance By ... Limiting Patient Choice?
The health insurer Oscar launched in 2014 with $40 million in venture capital and a plan to disrupt America’s $1.8 trillion health care industry. Oscar positioned itself as a "simple, smart" alternative to stodgy industry giants — a health plan meant to live on smartphones and deliver virtual doctor visits. The timing seemed perfect, too: The new Obamacare marketplaces created an easy way to pitch consumers directly on a better experience. (Sarah Kliff, 7/26)