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Eric Lander resigns as science adviser
White House science adviser Eric Lander’s stunning resignation last night could imperil the Biden administration’s already-shaky scientific agenda, my colleague Lev Facher writes.
Lander, the first science adviser from a life sciences background, was central to a number of the White House’s signature initiatives, like the creation of ARPA-H and the newly revamped “Cancer Moonshot.” In conversations with STAT, though, administration aides and outside research experts were split on what his resignation will mean for those major initiatives, as well as the ongoing search for a new NIH director and the administration’s $65 billion proposal to revamp U.S. pandemic preparedness.
Now, over a year after Biden’s inauguration, the search is on for a new figure capable of “reinvigorating” American science, as Biden asked Lander to do. Read more from Lev here.
Why is an “advocacy news” organization flooding Medicare with anti-Aduhelm screeds?
More Perfect Union, a video-based “advocacy news” organization founded by a former campaign manager for Sen. Bernie Sanders, isn’t known for weighing into Medicare decisions. Their most popular videos on Youtube are titled: “Frito-Lay Worker Electrocuted, Denied Medical Care & Surveilled by Company Agents” and “Will Sinema Choose Conspiracy Or Democracy?” But the group has funneled more than 2,000 comments to Medicare officials urging them not to cover Biogen’s controversial Alzheimer’s drug, Aduhelm.
So why exactly is an “advocacy news” organization running a massive campaign about Medicare coverage of Alzheimer’s drugs? The group’s founder Faiz Shakir tells me it’s all about trying to drown out Biogen’s own influence campaign.
For more on the campaign – and another major comment-writing campaign targeted at Medicare officials – check out my new story in STAT here.
Advocates are trying to save Califf’s floundering FDA nomination
The secret’s out: Rob Califf’s nomination to lead the FDA is in serious trouble. STAT reported last week that nearly a dozen Democrats were still undecided on his nomination, and Califf is stuck making pledges to help shore up Democrats’ support. In a new story for STAT, Rachel and I outline the rare pressure campaign being mounted by Califf’s allies, including public health groups, former colleagues and even celebrity doctors.
As one patient advocacy organization told me: “It’s … the ‘break glass in case of emergency’ moment.”
But, as we report, Califf’s opponents are mounting a major campaign, too. The Susan B. Anthony List, which has spearheaded opposition to Califf because of his past actions on abortion, have organized more than 1,000 calls into Senate offices urging lawmakers to vote against his nomination.
Check out more from Rachel and I here.
STAT stories you may have missed
The FDA’s top cancer regulator gave cool reception to a drug Lilly licensed from a Chinese drugmaker.
Insurers are starting to cover the bill for internet access to ensure people can use telemedicine.
Key lawmaker: ARPA-H won’t be part of NIH.
The lack of Covid diagnostic tests has been blamed on everything from the FDA to manufacturers. But there’s another culprit: the Supreme Court.
Despite Biden’s big promises and a far better understanding of the virus, Covid-19 is still raging through the nation’s prisons.
After a decade of living without cancer, researchers label early CAR-T therapy patient ‘cured’.
‘The numbers are pretty appalling’: Asian scientists rarely awarded top scientific prizes.
As the telemedicine industry rapidly expands, the Biden administration takes a closer look at who’s benefiting.
Lawmakers grill key FDA official over controversial Alzheimer’s drug approval.