Viewpoints: What Supports Do Frontline Workers Need? Could Psychedelics Be A New Therapeutic?
Editorial pages take on these public health issues.
How Health Care Leaders Can Support Their Frontline Workers
Health care leaders have typically pointed to resource constraints as the reason for the United States health care system’s high costs and poor outcomes. Now, as the COVID pandemic has claimed over 550,000 lives and led to over 30 million cases across a country with immense resources, it is clear that health leaders have been asking the wrong questions. Given the prominent leadership failures in containing the pandemic, and politicization of the public health response, it is clear that health care organizations and leaders need to pay more attention to frontline workforce issues that have faced neglect for years. While COVID has led to catastrophic loss of life, it also has several important organizational lessons for health care leaders and reveals what initiatives they need to be investing in, to support the next generation of health care workers. Using recent data, the major lessons are summarized below. (Junaid Nabi, 4/14)
New England Journal of Medicine:
Back To The Future — The Therapeutic Potential Of Psychedelic Drugs
In The Doors of Perception, Aldous Huxley described his trial of mescaline as “the most extraordinary and significant experience available to human beings this side of the Beatific Vision.” His exegesis was preceded by the synthesis of the hallucinogen lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) by Sandoz chemist Albert Hoffman in 1938 and was followed by Hoffman’s extraction of psilocybin from Psilocybe mexicana in 1959.1 The convergence of scientific research and natural substances historically used by Indigenous peoples in healing and religious rituals sparked interest in what the British psychiatrist Sir Humphrey Osmond termed psychedelic (Greek for “mind manifesting”) drugs. (Jeffery A. Lieberman, M.D., 4/15)
We Need To Be Outraged About Birth Control Blood Clots Too
On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food Drug Administration announced a "pause" on the distribution of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. More than 6.8 million J&J doses were distributed in the United States. Six people reportedly developed severe blood clots, each a woman between the ages of 18 and 48. Like many birth control users, when I heard the news of the AstraZeneca blood clots, I immediately thought of 72.2 million women aged 15 to 49 in the U.S who use contraceptives. Now, hearing of the six women impacted by the J&J vaccine, my mind again goes to birth control users. Birth control users are at a much higher risk to develop a blood clot than the average person not on birth control. That risk increases if they received the J&J vaccine. (Sam Stroozas, 4/14)
It's Time To Get Health Care Value Assessment Right
Trying to gauge the value of new drugs and devices is becoming increasingly important in the U.S. health care system, something that other countries have done explicitly for years. Pressure to get value assessment right is accelerating. The Biden administration is reportedly considering creating a health technology assessment board to evaluate drug and other health care pricing. But if it doesn’t incorporate essential elements into the definition of value — such as data on underrepresented groups and impacts on health equity — it may worsen the health disparities that many in the health care community are attempting to eliminate. (Jennifer Bright and Richard H. Chapman, 4/15)