Shortages prevent dentists from capitalizing on pent-up demand • Chicago updates mask guidance • Rinvoq delay worries AbbVie investors

Shortages prevent dentists from capitalizing on pent-up demand • Chicago updates mask guidance • Rinvoq delay worries AbbVie investors

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PATIENT DEMAND PUTS PRESSURE ON DENTISTS: Surging demand for dental care should be a financial boon to an industry rocked by COVID-19 lockdowns. But only if dentists can accommodate the influx of patients.

Pandemic-related stress and habits have contributed to a wide range of dental problems—from cracked teeth to an affliction called “mask mouth.” And after staring at themselves on screens for more than a year, more people are looking to straighten and brighten their smiles.

“Demand is up, but we can’t meet it because of the workforce shortage,” says Dr. Priya Tirumalasetty, who runs five-chair Setty Dental Group in the Loop. READ MORE.

CITY, COOK COUNTY BOTH RECOMMENDING MASKING INDOORS: With Cook County, followed by Chicago, surpassing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “substantial” risk category for community transmission, public health departments for both are recommending a return to mask-wearing in public indoor settings for all, including those who are fully vaccinated.

“We are taking this step to prevent further spread of the very contagious Delta variant and to protect public health,” CDPH Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said in a statement Friday. “This isn’t forever, but it is necessary to help decrease the risk for all Chicagoans right now.”

The CDC in May said fully vaccinated people no longer would be required to wear masks in most indoor settings. Following the guidance, Gov. J.B. Pritzker rescinded emergency rules enforcing masking and social distancing in most indoor and outdoor settings. While the state “fully aligns” with the CDC’s masking recommendations, it hasn’t issued another mandate. READ MORE.

ABBVIE’S RINVOQ SETBACKS WORRY INVESTORS, EVEN AS SALES REBOUND FROM PANDEMIC: AbbVie Inc.’s shares fell on Friday as the company faced analysts’ questions about its immune therapy Rinvoq, which has faced regulatory setbacks in recent months as the company seeks expanded clearance for related conditions, psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis.

But the company also beat expectations for second-quarter profit and revenue and raised its adjusted profit guidance for the year as sales rebounded from last year’s pandemic disruptions, helped by the purchase of Allergan. More from Bloomberg.

RAOUL SUPPORTS REVERSING ACA RULE REQUIRING SEPARATE ABORTION BILLING: Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul joined a coalition of 11 attorneys general petitioning the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to reverse a Trump administration rule requiring ACA Marketplace plans pay separate bills for abortion services.

The 2019 Separate Abortion Billing Rule requires insurers participating in the state exchanges to send consumers two separate premium bills: one bill of at least $1 for abortion coverage and another bill for the remaining covered health benefits. Covered individuals who did not pay the abortion coverage bill, even if it were as low as $1, could be kicked off their coverage, Raoul’s office said in a statement.

“The 2019 rule put women at risk by limiting access to needed abortion care and even potentially losing their health care coverage completely,” Raoul said in the statement. “I will continue to defend access to quality health care and women’s rights to make their own reproductive health care decisions.”

CANCER RESEARCH FOUNDATION EXPANDS IN CHICAGO: The Cancer Research Foundation, which funds cancer research at the University of Chicago and other cancer centers, said in a statement it is expanding its Chicago operation and strengthening its long-time relationship with UChicago. 

The Breakthrough Board—another UChicago group with a similar mission—will join the foundation’s Chicago chapter, which will more than double its annual funding, the statement said. The Breakthrough Board, formerly known as the University of Chicago Cancer Research Foundation Women’s Board, has raised over $7.5 million in just the last 5 years for the University of Chicago Medicine’s Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The CRF also currently funds Comprehensive Cancer Centers at Northwestern University and Washington University in St. Louis. 

COMPASS HEALTH OPENS FACILITY IN WESTERN SUBURBS: Compass Health Center will open a 50,000-square-foot behavioral health treatment facility in Westmont. Compass’ treatment model provides patients as young as 5 with intensive mental health treatment while allowing patients to live at home. 

Compass has facilities in Northbrook and Chicago.

“There was a mental health crisis before the pandemic, and there continues to be a substantial shortage of both psychiatrists and specialized clinicians in this country,” Dr. David Schreiber, CEO and co-founder of Compass Health Center. “The need for high-quality and immediate access to mental health care, as an alternative to the Emergency Room or inpatient hospitalization is critical.”

DRUG PRICES EXPECTED TO SEE SLOWER GROWTH IN 2022: Drug prices overall are not expected to increase meaningfully in 2022, although the number of specialty medications and drugs without biosimilar competition are projected to grow, according to Vizient, a group purchasing organization.

Vizient’s latest Pharmacy Market Outlook—which forecasts what its hospitals and health systems might pay for drugs after discounts and rebates in 2022—predicts that pharmaceutical costs will increase by 3.1%.

“Even at modest rates, it is still quite substantial,” said Steven Lucio, senior principal with the Vizient pharmacy team. 

The main driving force of drug price increases is the rheumatoid arthritis drug adalimumab, known commercially as Humira, Lucio said, and it will likely continue to dominate the market until it loses its patent exclusivity in 2023. That will allow biosimilars to enter the market, offering lower costs. More from Modern Healthcare.

NORTHWESTERN DOC DESCRIBES WHAT IT’S LIKE BEING A BLACK WOMAN PHYSICIAN-SCIENTIST: Dr. Adesuwa Akhetuamhen, a new graduate of the emergency medicine residency program at Northwestern Medicine, penned an op-ed with three other physicians in Nature Medicine describing the challenges facing Black women in science and medicine. 

The death of Dr. Susan Moore, a Black physician who died after publishing a video describing her concerns about receiving inequitable treatment for COVID-19 at an Indiana hospital, provided the inspiration for the piece.

“What happened to her could have happened to any of us,” Akhetuamhen said. “It was horrific, and it wasn’t being talked about enough. We wanted to say her name and suggest solutions to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again.” 

“Despite our ability and efforts as clinicians and scientists to advocate for equitable health care… [we] can’t even protect ourselves against unconscious bias, ignorance and racial bigotry,” she said in a Q&A from Northwestern Medicine.

OP-ED—LATINO COMMUNITY NEEDS MORE PROTECTION FROM COVID-19: COVID-19 continues to devastate Illinois’ Latino community and more needs to be done to ensure community partners have the resources they need to encourage vaccination, writes Sylvia Puente and Noreen Sugrue of the Latino Policy Forum in Illinois.

“Latinos have the highest rates of illness among the young, schools are reopening with a CDC recommendation but no state or federal mandate for masking, and parents are working in high risk jobs with many still having trouble accessing a vaccine,” they write in an op-ed for Crain’s. READ MORE. 

PEOPLE ON THE MOVE

• Neepa Patel has been named CEO of Chicago-based corporate well-being platform company WellRight. Patel was previously chief customer officer for surgical cost management solution provider IPG. She has also held leadership roles with Evolent Health, AIM Specialty Management and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

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