The Handoff: Your Week in Neurology News – 2/16/17

The Handoff is a weekly roundup of neurology news covering various developments in subspecialties, the pharmaceutical industry, and the overall state of health care as it affects neurologists.

— Just days after the FDA handed down an approval for Marathon’s Emflaza™ for the treatment of Duchenne muscular dystrophy, backlash over the drug’s nearly $90,000 per year price tag has caused Marathon to push back market availability of the drug. 

— Overall survival and neurodevelopmental outcomes are improving in very premature infants, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine

— The state Senate of Indiana, one of the last states that completely bars the use of marijuana extracts, recently passed a bill that will allow some physicians, pharmacies, and patients to distribute and use cannabidiol to treat refractory epilepsy. 

— Changes in brain volume as seen on MRI may predict the risk of autism in infants, according to a study published in Nature.

— Former FDA commissioner Robert Califf, MD, highlights 5 tips to keep drug approvals on track and make sure that drugs are actually benefiting patients. 

— Sleep helps scale back neural circuit activity and clear the brain of toxins built up during the day, allowing us to wake feeling refreshed, results from two NIH-sponsored mouse studies indicate. 

— Lundbeck reported more disappointing results from 2 phase 3 trials of its 5-HT6 antagonist idalopirdine, which is meant to treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. The results likely spell bad news for US-based Axovant Sciences, who is developing a similar drug.  

— Prevacus announced it will commence in-human trials for its novel concussion drug, PRV-002, which is meant to reduce adverse effects associated with mild traumatic brain injury. 

— Acorda is moving to file an NDA with the FDA after its inhaled levodopa drug met its primary endpoint in a phase 3 trial. The drug, CVT-301, is meant to address “off” periods often experienced by patients with Parkinson’s taking oral carbidopa/levodopa.

— Mental health research is increasingly focused on creating better animal models in which to simulate mental illness seen in humans. 

— Another drug trial, another failure. Listen to what David Knopman, MD, from Mayo Clinic, thinks about the future of Alzheimer’s research.