The Handoff: Your Week in Neurology News – 9/22/16

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. Keep your finger on the pulse of neurology with The Handoff.

– It appears that heads are rolling at the FDA just days after the agency announced its controversial approval of Sarepta’s eteplirsen for the treatment of Duchenne muscular dystrophy. FDA commissioner Robert Califf, MD, has since called for a retraction of a key dystrophin study as more panel members vocalize their disapproval of Janet Woodcock’s decision to push the drug, which will cost patients upwards of $300,000 per year, through the approval process.

– Updates to the 2017 Physician Fee Schedule predict a 1% increase in Medicare spending for neurology as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services finally give more credit to the cognitive services neurologists provide.

– AbbVie is the latest pharma giant to partner with Swedish startup BioArctic on the development and commercialization of the startup’s antibody portfolio for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.

– Brain cancer is now the number one cause of cancer-related deaths among children and adolescents — but only because deaths related to leukemia have dropped. Overall, cancer-related deaths in children have decreased by 20% from 1999 to 2014.

– A study led by 23andMe has uncovered a genetic marker for bupropion response among patients with depression.

– In observance of Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week, President Obama has announced an increase to the patient limit for prescriptions of buprenorphine to treat opioid use disorders. The FDA has also launched a competition to spur development of an app that can connect people in need with life-saving doses of Naloxone.

– Genetic sequence data from some people with autism spectrum disorder may shed light on the evolution of the human brain, according to a study published in Cell.

– The Epilepsy Foundation has launched an educational campaign to help reduce the occurrence of SUDEP.

– The Allen institute has published the highest resolution of its Human Brain Reference Atlas, allowing researchers to investigate the structures that contribute to human brain function. Watch the video below for a preview of the Atlas.