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Searching for a nursing home? Biden administration takes ‘unprecedented step’ to release ownership data

By Ken Alltucker, USA TODAY

 Nursing homes receive tons of federal funding, and until recently, the industry’s inner workings were kept in the dark. Now, the government is releasing data that shows who owns each nursing home — a move the Biden administration hopes will empower citizens to find and track owners with a history of poor performance. The data release includes information for over 15,000 nursing homes, which will be placed on Medicare’s Care Compare website. In addition to ownership data, the dashboard will also include a five-star rating system that will allow citizens to quickly see how a given nursing home scores in areas such as health inspections, staffing, and other quality measures. 

by Andrew Feld

New A.L.S. experimental treatment approved by FDA Thursday

By Pam Belluck, The New York Times 

The FDA approved experimental medication AMX0035, soon to be marketed as Relyvrio, for treatment against amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, known as ALS. ALS affects 6,000 people worldwide each year and can cause death within 2 to 5 years. The agency’s quick approval raised public concerns on the new drug’s lack of Phase 3 clinical trials; however, the urgency and the unmet need of treatment for ALS patients led the FDA to pass the drug regardless. Amylyx Pharmaceuticals, founded by Justin Klee and Joshua Cohen, created Relyvrio by combining taurursodiol, a liver enzyme regulator, and sodium phenylbutyrate, a pediatric urea disorder medication, which when mixed prevent dysfunction in the mitochondria and the endoplasmic reticulum. The company and the ALS Association raised $2.2 million for the development and study of AMX0035, and will use revenues to fund more research in coming years. 

by Emily Kim

What is a ‘Healthy’ Food? The F.D.A. Wants to Change the Definition

by Dani Blum, The New York Times 

The Food and Drug Administration’s former definition of “healthy” doesn’t stack up to our most recent understanding of nutrition. It was created in 1994, and applied to foods with above 10% of the recommended daily intake for various vital nutrients. The other criteria of the definition for this label is for it to be low in fat content, but there is no regulation for the maximum limit of added sugar content. Now that countless research confirms negative health effects from consuming too much added sugar, the FDA is changing its definition of a “healthy” food. In addition to adding new restrictions for saturated fat, added sugar, and sodium content, the new definition includes a more holistic approach that looks at foods that are recommended for supporting health. This helps water, nuts, and seeds to qualify as “healthy,” even though they do not pass the criteria listed above. Changing these guidelines is an effort to eliminate harmful and misleading food labels and promote greater dietary health. It is important that people have accurate information when making decisions about their diet, especially with the recent surges of fad diets and “health” foods that have little or no evidence to support their efficacy in promoting health. Informing consumers can guide their decisions and reduce societal chronic illness, which promotes public health.

by Sammy Ramacher

Items contributed by: Andrew Feld, Emily Kim, and Sammy Ramacher