FDA last week approved the first pill to treat postpartum depression, a condition that affects one in eight new mothers, in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from California, Maryland, and Minnesota.
- California: Prospect Medical Holdings, which operates 16 hospitals and 165 outpatient facilities in several states, last week reported that it experienced a cyberattack that impacted several of its facilities. The cyberattack closed several EDs and required ambulances to be diverted away from some hospitals. Hospitals owned by Prospect in at least three states, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island, were reporting system outages as of Sunday. "Upon learning of this [attack], we took our systems offline to protect them and launched an investigation with the help of third-party cybersecurity specialists," Prospect said. "While our investigation continues, we are focused on addressing the pressing needs of our patients as we work diligently to return to normal operations as quickly as possible." According to Axios, the incident at Prospect is the latest of several large-scale cyberattacks against healthcare facilities in recent months. Currently, experts are calling for improved industry-wide efforts and federal regulations to better protect the country's healthcare information infrastructure. (Reed, Axios, 8/7)
- Maryland: FDA on Friday approved the first-ever pill for postpartum depression, opening up more accessible options for patients with the condition. According to CDC, around one in eight women report symptoms of postpartum depression after giving birth, and the condition is associated with poor maternal and infant health outcomes. Previously, the only available treatment was an IV infusion approved by FDA, which required patients to stay in the hospital for 2.5 days. The new medication, which was developed by Biogen and Sage Therapeutics, is a pill called zuranolone and is taken daily for two weeks. In two clinical trials, researchers found that the treatment improved symptoms of postpartum depression, such as anxiety, low energy, loss of pleasure and more, as soon as three days after taking the first pill. According to Samantha Meltzer-Brody, director of the University of North Carolina's Center for Women's Mood Disorders and an investigator on both clinical trials, the data so far is "incredibly encouraging and very exciting," but she cautioned that the trials only followed patients for 45 days. "We know that it works quickly, and that you have a durable effect out to day 45, but what happens after that remains to be seen," she said. (Bendix/Kopf, NBC News, 8/4; Rubin, Axios, 8/4)
- Minnesota: UnitedHealth Group* (UHG) last week named Patrick Conway CEO of its pharmacy benefit manager OptumRx, effective immediately. Conway succeeds Heather Cianfrocco, who now serves as president of UHG's Optum healthcare services arm. Most recently, Conway served as head of Optum's care solutions arm. In the position, he managed operations for acute and post-acute care, in-home and virtual care, mental healthcare, and complex disease health management. "Pharmacy services have a major impact on people across the healthcare system, helping people access needed care and improving health outcomes, and the link between pharmacy and medical and behavioral care can be transformative," Conway said. "I look forward to working with the team." (Tepper, Modern Healthcare, 8/4)
*Advisory Board is a subsidiary of Optum, a division of UnitedHealth Group. All Advisory Board research, expert perspectives, and recommendations remain independent.