MTT #74: A change in the Covid-19 booster? A new Alzheimer’s drug?

The FDA moved forward this month with a recommendation to change the composition of Covid-19 boosters in time for fall. Whereas the current vaxx, a cocktail designed to target the original coronavirus and the Omicron strain, will soon give way to a shot aimed at the XBB.1.5 subvariant.

The question on the minds of public-health experts (and likely, soon to be on the minds of patients): Will it make any difference?

On this episode of “Medicine: The Truth,” cohost Dr. Robert Pearl poses two more pressing questions about the new vaccine: Will insurers cover the costs of the new vaccine or will they charge a copayment? And, regardless of the price, how many folks will roll up their sleeves to receive it (compared to last fall)?

In other medication news, another Alzheimer’s drug is expected to receive full FDA approval soon. This one, lecanemab (Leqembi), received conditional approval in January based on its success removing a substance called amyloid-beta from the brains of people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s.

But this news raises questions, too: How does lecanemab stack up against its controversial predecessor, aducanumab? Will payers like Medicare make it easy or difficult for patients to access and afford the new medication? Does the high price of any Alzheimer’s drug match the health benefits or expected increase in life expectancy?

Hosts Dr. Robert Pearl and Jeremy Corr discuss these questions and several other pressing healthcare topics, including: the upcoming season of Fixing Healthcare’s focus on end-of-life issues, the latest on a new lung-cancer drug, the current threat of long-COVID and whether the threat is great enough to get more Americans vaccinated and boosted.

Tune in for the full conversation around Covid-19 and a host of healthcare topics. As always, Dr. Pearl and Jeremy eagerly follow the facts, uncover the truth, and help listeners understand how the world’s biggest healthcare stories affect us all. Click here for more info:

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Dr. Robert Pearl is the author of a book about medicine’s invisible yet highly influential physician culture. Check out “Uncaring: How Physician Culture Is Killing Doctors & Patients.” All profits from the book go to Doctors Without Borders.

Fixing Healthcare is a co-production of Dr. Robert Pearl and Jeremy Corr. Subscribe to the show via Apple, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever you find podcasts. Join the conversation or suggest a guest by following the show on Twitter and LinkedIn.