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  1. Patients with systemic sclerosis demonstrate a four-fold increased prevalence of moderate-to-severe valvular heart disease at diagnosis compared with those without systemic sclerosis, according to data published in The Journal of Rheumatology.
    “Cardiopulmonary complications are the leading cause of mortality in systemic sclerosis, with up to 70% mortality at 5 years reported with heart involvement,” Ashima Makol, MD, director of the scleroderma/Raynaud’s and nailfold capillaroscopy clinic at the Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minnesota, told Healio Rheumatology. “In a

  2. The AMA has adopted a new policy that discourages health insurance companies from offering financial incentives to patients for switching medications, according to the organization.
    In March, the AMA said that Cigna offered eligible patients a $500 prepaid medical debit card if they stopped taking Cosentyx (secukinumab, Novartis) and switched to a payer-preferred alternative. In response, Chris Phillips, MD, chair of the American College of Rheumatology Insurance Subcommittee, sent a letter to Cigna’s Chief Medical Officer Scott Josephs, MD, urging the company to immediately revoke the

  3. Young age, male sex, high BMI, depression, advanced radiographic disease, weak knee extensors, history of injury or surgery, and hip or ankle pain are baseline predictors for persistently poor knee confidence, according to results.
    In the course of 8 years, researchers from Northwestern University analyzed a prospective cohort of 4,515 patients from the Osteoarthritis Initiative who had or were at risk for knee osteoarthritis (OA).
    Using the KOOS instrument, researchers identified four knee confidence trajectories among the cohort: persistently good (65.6% of patients), declining (9.1% of

  4. On May 11, Icelandic-based drug developer Alvotech filed a lawsuit against AbbVie seeking to undo what it alleges is a “minefield” of “invalid” patents surrounding what is arguably the pharma giant’s most prized possession: Humira.
    Just 2 weeks prior, AbbVie had filed a lawsuit of its own against Alvotech — currently seeking FDA approval for its Humira (adalimumab) biosimilar AVT02 — accusing Alvotech of patent infringement related to that biosimilar application.
    This volley of dueling legal actions is merely the latest chapter in what has been a

  5. My dad, Leonard Calabrese, DO, has emulated what it means to love what you do. He and I are longtime travel buddies and I had joined him for many American College of Rheumatology and EULAR conferences, attending more of these events — albeit not as a registered attendee — than most rheumatologists by the time I was in college.
    Aside from the great times we had traveling and exploring different cities and countries, I loved to go with him to the dinners and various events with his friends and colleagues in the rheumatology field. There was an overwhelming sense of comradery, and I

  6. The United States Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act in a 7-2 vote.
    The decision dismisses a claim by Texas and other states that the ACA’s mandate requiring individuals buy health insurance or face penalties was unconstitutional, and that the entire ACA should be overturned since the mandate was zeroed out by Congress.
    The Supreme Court majority wrote in its opinion “that the plaintiffs do not have standing to challenge [ACA’s] minimum essential coverage provision because they have not shown a past or future injury fairly traceable to defendants’ conduct.”

  7. Gerald E. Harmon, MD, was recently sworn in as the 176th president of the AMA.
    Harmon, a family physician from Georgetown, South Carolina, brings more than 30 years of professional and military experience to the AMA presidency, according to a press release from the organization. He has also been a member of the AMA’s board of trustees and a member of its Council on Medical Service. In addition, Harmon has previously served as the chair and president of the South Carolina Medical Association board of trustees.
    In a recent interview with Healio Primary Care, Harmon talked about his

  8. Less than 10% of Medicaid beneficiaries with systemic lupus erythematosus are vaccinated against preventable diseases such as influenza, herpes zoster, cervical cancer and others, according to data published in Arthritis Care & Research.
    “Prior studies among individuals with SLE have demonstrated high rates of serious infection and substantial associated mortality,” Candace H. Feldman, MD, ScD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in Boston, and colleagues wrote. “Rates of hospitalization for herpes zoster in this population are especially high and may be rising. In

  9. The AMA said it has adopted new policies regarding the prior authorization process, with its outgoing president stating that maintaining the status quo may cause “life-or-death consequences.”
    Bringing the prior authorization process under control has long been a priority of medical organizations, including the American Academy of Family Physicians and the ACP.
    The AMA’s new policies involve the authorizations made during a public health emergency, and peer-to-peer (P2P) conversations between a physician and an insurance company physician employee either during the initial

  10. A study of patients who received care at Veterans Affairs centers found that rheumatoid arthritis is linked to a 25% higher risk for COVID-19, and a 35% increased risk for related hospitalization and death, according to data.
    “With the rapid development of effective vaccines for COVID-19, individuals with select chronic conditions that predispose to a more severe COVID-19 disease course have been prioritized for vaccine administration,” Bryant R. England, MD, PhD, of the Veterans Affairs Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System, and the University of Nebraska Medical Center, in

  11. Patients with psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis treated with ustekinumab demonstrated a 1.4- to 3-times lower risk for hospitalization with serious infections than those who received other biologics or apremilast, according to data.
    “The efficacy of biologics and small molecule therapies in PsO/PsA are well established in pre-marketing randomized clinical trials, and the expected patient satisfaction is generally high,” Yinzhu Jin, MPH, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, in Boston, and colleagues wrote in Arthritis Care & Research. “However,

  12. Skin disease is more active than muscle disease in juvenile dermatomyositis and should be treated early and aggressively to limit its severity, according to a study.
    “Juvenile dermatomyositis may lead to severe sequelae, including dystrophic calcifications, persistent cutaneous inflammation and organ involvement with functional limitations,” Andi Wang, MA, of the division of pediatric rheumatology, department of pediatrics, at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and colleagues wrote.
    A prospective cohort study used data from the Juvenile Myositis Registry to

  13. To avoid perpetuating misinformation regarding rheumatic diseases, rheumatologists should ensure they are aware of the available evidence – or lack thereof – for some of the popular myths patient hold about their disease, noted a speaker at the EULAR 2021 Congress.
    Mariano Andres, MD, PhD, of Hospital General Universitario de Alicante-ISABIAL, and of Miguel Hernandez University in Alicante, Spain, highlighted the importance of making evidence-based decisions as a clinician. “Not all decisions are evidence-based, unfortunately,” he said.
    One reason for this may be a lack

  14. Avenue Therapeutics announced the FDA has issued a second complete response letter regarding the new drug application for intravenous tramadol as an analgesic treatment for patients with acute pain.
    The FDA issues a complete response letter to an applicant if the agency determines that it will not approve the application or abbreviated application in its present form for one or more reasons. In this case, the FDA expressed concerns that the delayed and unpredictable onset of analgesia from IV tramadol made it unsuitable as a monotherapy to treat acute pain in patients.
    Additionally, the

  15. A maladaptive immune response may be prompting arthritic complications in patients with persistent and drug-refractory Lyme disease, according to a speaker at the EULAR 2021 Congress.
    “Although the infection serves as the initial trigger for Lyme arthritis, the chronic inflammatory arthritis that persists after antibiotic therapy in some patients appears to a maladaptive immune response,” Klemen Strle, PhD, of the department of immunity and pathogenesis of tick-borne diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, told attendees.
    This is