Susana Machado • October 13, 2017

The Friday Roundup is a collection of five stories that you need to know about each week. From policy, to innovations, look to us to keep you up to date on what’s happening in the healthcare industry.

Will Your Next Pharmacy Visit Be Virtual?

E-commerce giant Amazon is reportedly still considering selling prescription drugs on its site, with a possible announcement expected in a year or two. Recently, Amazon has made a sprinkling of healthcare hires, oh, and they also have a super secret healthcare lab.

Bezos and his empire were previously tied to pharmacy when he invested in Drugtore.com before it was bought and then subsequently shut down by Walgreens. Like with any other industry Amazon enters, they would be perceived as a potential threat, or “disruptor.” However, selling prescription drugs will be a bit more difficult to implement because of its complicated supply chain.

The Evolution Inside You

Immunologist Gabriel Victora was recently awarded a MacArthur Genius Grant for his research on how cells respond to infection in the body, specifically the evolutionary development of antibodies.

Victora and his team have developed an imaging and modeling system so they can nearly visualize the process, which produces valuable data. He doesn’t yet know what he’s going to do with his $625,000, but we’re looking forward to finding out.

Executive Order Takes Aim at ACA

After several failed attempts at repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (AKA Obamacare) in Congress, President Trump has signed an executive order removing some regulations the ACA put in place.

Under the new order, fewer benefits and protections are required for customers and small companies can group together to buy “association plans” which do not have to adhere to guidelines laid out by the ACA.

VOX has an interesting look at what the association plans might do to the overall ACA market. Tennessee, where the plans already exist because of a loophole, holds some of the highest average ACA plan pricing in the nation.

NIH Partners with Big Pharma

In a $215 million collaboration, the National Institute of Health announced the start of a five-year research initiative in partnership with 11 pharmaceutical companies to support the Cancer Moonshot program.

The project with a focus on immunotherapy and why certain cancers do or do not respond to the treatment. The collaboration will be known as the Partnership for Accelerating Cancer Therapies, or PACT, and NIH director Dr. Francis Collins has high hope for the initiative.

“A systematic approach like PACT will help us to achieve success faster,” Collins said in a statement.

Another Gene Therapy Moves Forward

A treatment for a rare form of childhood blindness has been unanimously recommended for approval by the FDA. Developed by Spark Therapeutics, the therapy treats Leber congenital amaurosis a disorder with 13 different types depending on cause, amount of vision loss, and other eye abnormalities.

The treatment is called Luxturna, and was previously predicted to be the first gene therapy in the U.S. market before CAR-T claimed that prize earlier this year.

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