The Handoff: Your Week in Endocrinology – 12/2/16

The Handoff is a weekly roundup of endocrinology and general medicine news covering various developments in subspecialties, as well as pharmaceutical industry, association, and society news.

  • The FDA has approved a new indication for the type 2 diabetes drug Jardiance® (empagliflozin, Boehringer Ingelheim). Results from a postmarketing study have prompted the agency to approve the drug to reduce cardiovascular death in type 2 diabetes.
  • On November 30, the House of Representatives voted in favor of approving the 21st Century Cures Act—a bill that provides funding for medical research and affects how the FDA will approach the approval of new drugs and devices. The bill could go before the Senate next week.
  • In the wake of Fidel Castro’s death, many are reflecting on how he influenced Cuba’s political landscape. However, his actions may have also spurred “a public health phenomenon” that caused Cuba to become the “only modern society to lose weight on a national basis.” This weight loss also led to significant decreases in diabetes and heart disease.
  • Surgeons at Mount Sinai Beth Israel have performed the first endoscopic transoral thyroidectomy in New York. The procedure allowed the team to remove the thyroid gland through 3 small incisions in the lower lip.
  • A new report from Gallup and Healthways has ranked US states and communities according to diabetes incidence. Some states, like Colorado, Rhode Island, and Utah, fared well, while others, like Alabama and West Virginia, did not.
  • One of the main drivers of the increasing incidence of diabetes is the high sugar content in popular food products. In an effort to decrease the amount of sugar in its foods, the major food and drink company Nestlé, has developed a way to “restructure” sugar. The new process may allow them to include less sugar in their products.
  • The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has joined the effort to curtail tobacco use by planning to ban smoking in public housing. The rule is reported to take effect in the fall of 2018.
  • Researchers at the University of Adelaide and Flinders University in Australia have discovered that a poison found in the heels of the hind feet of the male platypus contains the hormone glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1). Although GLP-1 is also found in humans and other animals, this form of the hormone appears to be more long-lasting and may help scientists develop more novel treatments for diabetes.