The Handoff: Your Week in Neurology News – 4/6/17

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.

— Earlier this week, Teva won FDA approval for its Huntington’s chorea drug Austedo™. The drug, which is only the second approved for chorea, will be competitively priced at $60,000 per year compared to Xenazine’s $153,000 price tag and generics that run between $92,000 and $96,000. 

— While Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Opdivo failed to have an impact on recurrent glioblastoma, the company is still pursuing 2 clinical trials evaluating Opdivo in combination with radiation and with or without temozolomide.

— In his monthly newsletter, NIMH director Joshua Gordon, MD, PhD discusses the status of autism research — what we know, what we don’t know, and the ongoing work to understand the disorder — in honor of Autism Awareness Month. 

— The number of companies who posted compassionate use policies on their websites has more than doubled — from 19% to 47% — from September 2016 to March 2017, likely due to the passing of the 21st Century Cures Act. Compassionate use is a particularly important topic among “orphan” neurological drugs. 

— People aged 16-30 with first episode psychosis face 24 times the risk of death compared with people in the same age group in the general population. . 

— The FDA has granted approval of 23andMe’s direct-to-consumer genetic testing kits for 10 diseases or conditions, including Parkinson’s, late-onset Alzheimer’s, and dystonia. 

— Despite a lack of positive data, Allergan is pursuing phase 3 studies of Botox as a treatment for depression. 

— Researchers are urging regulators to control and monitor the use of ketamine for the treatment of depression, as a troubling trend of private ketamine clinics could upend the use of the drug to treat severe depression.

— The Allen Institute has created the Allen Cell Explorer, which utilizes 3D imaging data to show predictive models of cell organization, including gene-edited human stem cells. Watch the video below for more information on the exciting tool.