The report from ETNews suggested this week that Samsung’s next move is ordering special equipment for mass-production of its first 3-layered image sensor. Samsung would be the second company in the world to create a 3-layer image sensor for mobile devices. This sensor is said to be able to reach up to 1,000 frames per second – speedier than any solution (for a mobile device) before it.The first 3-layer image sensor manufactured and released for a smartphone was made by Sony. Sony’s solution also used its own DRAM inside their 3-layer image sensor. DRAM sits between the pixel section and the circuit section of the 3-layer sensor, acting as a holding cell for the images snapped by the sensor. Sony’s solution, too was (and is) able to capture photos at up to 1,000 frames per second. Story TimelineSony confirmed to be in talks to buy Toshiba’s image sensor businessSony confirms $155M purchase of Toshiba image sensor businessSony IMX318 Stacked CMOS EXMOR RS image sensor has integrated hybrid autofocusSamsung reveals its own 12MP Dual Pixel image sensorSony’s new smartphone CMOS image sensor has its own DRAM Above you’ll see a bit of slow motion made with a camera using Sony’s 3-layer image sensor. This is a bit simulated since we can’t actually play 1,000 frames per second in YouTube. The power should be plain to see. This power is in the Xperia XZ Premium right this minute – not that you’ll buy it.For the average user there’s little benefit to being able to capture super-duper insanely-slow slow-motion video. It’s only for the likes of you and I that such next-level power is made, and by us will it be truly appreciated. If a report from South Korea proves true, the next smartphone spec race is not on quality, but on speed. The report suggests that Samsung is set to create its own 3-layer image sensor that’s able to utilize DRAM to snap and process photos faster than ever before. Faster than any smartphone camera’s ever allowed in the past, that is to say.
In-display fingerprint scanners have been hailed as the optimal solution to bezel-less screens. At least over face or iris recognition or even placing the sensor on the phone’s back. But by putting it under the display’s glass, the fingerprint scanner naturally becomes subject to that glass’ own vulnerabilities. JerryRigEverything took a Vivo X20 Plus UD, the first and so far only phone to have that feature, and subjected it to his usual durability torture test. This time, however, he put a very special emphasis on that hidden sensor. Amusingly, Vivo has probably just made scratch tests more interesting. Most phones these days sport one version of Gorilla Glass or another, which meant that almost all of them would only start scratching at a Mohs level 6. In practical terms, the screens should be safe from keys or even run of the mill paper cutters.The in-display fingerprint scanner, however, adds another level of complexity. Will the optical fingerprint sensor still work if the glass above it is thoroughly scratched? Considering the whole screen itself might not scratch easily, that might not be a huge problem but it’s still worth testing. The good news? It still works flawlessly.The rest of the Vivo X20 Plus UD is just as impressive in terms of durability and overall features. It’s metal all around, even at the edges, with just enough plastic between the display glass and the metal frame to diffuse the force of impact and prevent the glass from shattering. There’s a 3.5 mm headphone jack at the bottom and, despite still having a micro USB port, is still as thin or even thinner than those without those two features.The story doesn’t end on a happy note, though. JerryRigEverything wanted to test whether the fingerprint sensor would still work under cracked glass. Unfortunately, the screen itself died after a few large long cracks, rendering the test inconclusive and the phone useless. The fingerprint scanner might actually be a weak structural point, though that still remains to be seen in other tests and teardowns.
This more overarching school ban on phones is actually just an extension on an already existing practice put into effect in 2010. Back then, smartphone use was only prohibited during class hours. The new law, however, would ban mobile devices even during meals, says Engadget. The legislation makes room for some exception, like for pedagogical or medical reasons. It also doesn’t prohibit the use of official school devices, so Apple, Google, and Microsoft can breathe easy.It’s really not hard to understand why the French government, prompted by the promise of President Emmanuel Macron during his election campaign last year, is taking such a strong stance against smartphones. This new blanket ban goes far beyond the potential of devices for distraction or cheating in classes. The purpose of the law is to cut the “phenomenon of screen addiction” right at the bud. The line of thinking is that if you curtail kids’ access to such devices long enough until they are 15, they won’t grow up as addicted to smartphones. They will learn to respect the sanctity of the classroom and be more physically active and social than if they had their faces glue to their phones.Science and psychology, however, is less clear-cut on that matter. There are countless studies on the psychological and physiological effects of prolonged exposure to screens and the social problems brought by the cover of online anonymity. But there are also studies that show how the use of such devices, or rather the easy access to digital content, provides benefits to mental or even social development.A total ban doesn’t take those nuances into account. It simply says “no” and requires kids to either leave their phones at home or surrender them to the safety of school administrators during school hours. It’s pretty much a nationwide and legal equivalent of a parenting technique that bans kids from access to games or from going out. Parents raising teens probably know how effective that technique can be.More importantly, laws such as these paint mobile devices as the enemy, as a bad thing that must be avoided “until you’re older”. It develops a mentality in impressionable children that, consciously or unconsciously, would make them shun such technologies. And when they grow up and go out into the world, they might feel not only conflicted but even unprepared. It also creates an ironic dichotomy where schools treat mobile devices as negative influences yet also offer material on technology that revolves around them.There is no argument that smartphones, social media, and the Internet at large have had harmful effects on humans, most especially children. They are problems that need to be solved and young minds have to be protected from their negative influences. Perhaps more than parents, schools and academic institutions are actually in the perfect position to mold the minds of future generations, to educate them on proper use of technologies, and to prepare them for the future. Indiscriminate blanket bans such as this, however, simply shoves the problem inside a locker and pretend they no longer exist, at least not until they’re 15. A few days ago, French lawmakers passed legislation that was written to protect children from growing up like zombies enslaved to their smartphones and tablets. Such mobile devices will be banned in schools for children up to 15 years of age, both inside and outside classes. While it’s definitely easy to see this as a victory against the smartphone addiction that is plaguing society, it could actually end up doing more harm than good when these kids become ill-prepared to face the realities of modern life.
Story TimelineGalaxy Note 9 screen gets DisplayMate’s highest grade everSamsung Galaxy Note 9 Review: Epic phone, epic priceGalaxy Note 9 on DxOMark: great but not great enough Granted, the image did come via MySmartPrice, which does have a reputation for accuracy. The image above is allegedly from a press render for a new Galaxy Note 9 variant. No name has been given but it wouldn’t be a surprise if it’s called Arctic Silver, similar to the Galaxy S8+ from last year.Naturally, the S Pen that comes with the silver Galaxy Note 9 is of the same color. That would imply that it’s “Signature Color” when writing with the Screen Off Memo will be silver as well. Or at least gray, just like the Midnight Black color.The Galaxy Note 9 is officially available in Black, Metallic Copper, Ocean Blue, and Lavender Purple, though availability varies by region. It isn’t yet known if this “Arctic Silver” will be made available outside the US. Presuming it becomes available at all. If the Galaxy Note 9’s colors were a bit too attention-grabbing for your tastes, your only option would be to put on a skin or case or settle for the conventional Black. If you’re in the US, however, you might be getting a new option soon. Or so that’s what a newly leaked render is trying to claim. Considering how such renders are some of the easiest things to fake these days, we’ll just have to take their word for it.
The issue stems from the circuit board in the power steering control unit. The company started getting warranty claims as early as March of last year, which saw this circuit damage from simple exposure to the elements over time. An investigation was launched, and they found that a certain number of cars could experience this same issue, which prompted the recall.The affected Sonata models are all from the 2011 model year. Specifically, cars manufactured between Dec. 11, 2009 and October 31, 2010 are known to have the defect. Cars manufactured on or after November 1, 2010 used an improved protective coating on the circuit board. This allows them to withstand significantly more exposure without causing any damage.Hyundai will be notifying customers, and starting on May 30, dealers will replace the control on affected cars at no cost to the owner. If you’re unsure if your car is covered, your best bet will be to pay a visit to your local Hyundai dealer to get it checked out. Otherwise, you could have your power steering fail at an inopportune time, which could lead to an accident. If you own a Hyundai Sonata, then you’ll want to listen up. Today, the company announced a recall on roughly 173,000 Sonatas, due to an issue with the power steering. If left unchecked the power steering can go out, which would make the car significantly harder to steer. The company advises that this could potentially lead to accidents, due to the increased difficulty caused by only having manual steering. Story TimelineHyundai Ioniq to be offered with trio of electrified powertrainsApple CarPlay is finally coming to the Hyundai SonataHyundai Santa Cruz truck close to production says US exec2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Adds Safety, Style at Chicago Auto Show2017 Hyundai Ioniq offer 3 eco-friendly, efficient, hi-tech options
Garmin has rolled out its Spotify app its vivoactive 3 Music smartwatch, bringing the music service directly to the wrist. The new app was announced back in October 2018, as a way for owners of select Garmin wearables to leave their phone at home, but still be able to take their music with them. Now, it’s available to install for Garmin’s most affordable music-compatible model. Garmin launched the app in October, though at the time it was only compatible with its more expensive models. That includes the D2 Delta, D2 Delta PX, and D2 Delta S, along with the Forerunner 645 Music. The Fenix 5 Plus, Fenix 5S Plus, and Fenix 5X Plus are also compatible. Now, though, it has been updated to work with the Garmin vivoactive 3 Music. That was released in June last year, an update to the original vivoactive 3 GPS smartwatch. The upgrade added in enough storage to save around 500 songs to the wearable itself. However, while you could side-load tracks, the only music services Garmin supported officially at launch was iHeartRadio, with Deezer following on.Spotify compatibility makes the $299.99 price tag of the vivoactive 3 Music seem a lot more palatable. The fact that you can find it only for under $260 at the moment doesn’t hurt, either. In addition to manually building a playlist, you’ll also be able to use Spotify’s algorithmically generated playlists. That includes music for workouts, along with the latest releases and Discover Weekly. Podcasts are supported, too, and the watch can show album art as well. If you have the more recently-released vivoactive 3 Music LTE, which has an integrated Verizon 4G LTE modem, that too can be used with Spotify, though not for streaming over LTE.You won’t just need a compatible Garmin smartwatch in order to use the feature, mind. You’ll also need to be a Spotify Premium subscriber: those with free accounts won’t be able to do offline sync. It relies on offline storage for Spotify music. Once you’ve set up a playlist of tracks you want to work out to – or just commute with – in the Spotify mobile app, you can then synchronize that with the local storage in compatible Garmin smartwatches. Tracks are transferred over WiFi for speed.After that, you can pair your Bluetooth headphones with the Garmin smartwatch, and play music directly. Unsurprisingly the Spotify interface for the wearables is a little less comprehensive in its features than Spotify on your phone. Still, for what you’d need while you’re running or in the gym, that simplicity is probably a bonus.
If you’re one of the millions of people using Alibaba’s UC Browser, you might want to stop for the time being. Researchers with Dr. Web Anti-Virus have discovered that UC Browser is capable of bypassing Google Play’s servers to download additional software modules and libraries, potentially allowing malicious code to be downloaded. The worry isn’t necessarily that the Alibaba-owned UCWeb will load malware onto user devices, but the way it secures its command server leaves the door open for others to do just that. There are a number of problems with the way UC Browser receives these additional libraries. For starters, bypassing Google’s servers and verification process is obviously a violation of Google Play’s rules, which prohibit apps hosted on the service from downloading new components from sources other than the Play Store. Dr. Web points out that UC Browser has been using this method of software delivery since 2016, which is particularly worrisome when you learn that the command and control server UC Browser uses pushes software over HTTP.This is where the real trouble comes in: since UC Browser is downloading software over the unencrypted HTTP instead of the more secure HTTPS, that opens the potential for man-in-the-middle attacks. It’s possible that hackers can intercept those requests for software from UC Browser and use it to push malware to the app, leaving users at risk of falling victim to phishing scams or worse.UC Browser will run whatever it winds up downloading too, since it doesn’t verify new plug-ins and will run them even if they’re unsigned. With 500 million downloads, this vulnerability is definitely putting a lot of people at risk. Dr. Web notes in its report that UC Browser Mini – an alternative to the standard UC Browser which has more than 100 million downloads – is also susceptible to the same kind of attacks.Dr. Web says that it has reported these vulnerabilities to both the app author and Google, but at the time it published its report (and, indeed, at the time of this writing) both apps were still available on the Google Play Store. While we wait for Alibaba to respond to this report, it’s probably a good idea to uninstall UC Browser, lest you put yourself at risk for those man-in-the-middle attacks detailed above.
The GPD Win series was already an oddball. It was a gaming device the size of a Nintendo DS that ran Windows 10 and had a small QWERTY thumboard in addition to joysticks and buttons. It was such a success for the company that it followed it up with a GPD WIN 2 and will even give the latter a slight upgrade.The current GPD P2 Max, on the other hand, comes from the GPD Pocket line that tried to cram a laptop into a 7-inch form factor. This time, however, GPD acknowledged size limitations and expanded it to 8.9 inches. It was pretty much a larger mini laptop.A leak of the GPD Win Max shows it will merge the two not only in name. In addition to the rumored larger screen and keyboard, it will even have a regular island-style keyboard with slightly larger keys. It gives off a vibe of a device that can be used as both a mini laptop and a handheld.AdChoices广告That could be no problem for the AMD Ryzen Embedded SoC that’s rumored to be inside. Don’t expect it to appear any time soon, though. GPD hasn’t even wrapped up its P2 Max crowdfunding and those won’t ship until September. The netbook renaissance is at hand, that is if you ask at least three Chinese manufacturers. GPD, Chuwi, and One Netbook are currently in a race for the 8-inch mini laptop market but GPD is quite happy to stretch its wings even further. It is already known to be working on a slight refresh of its GPD WIN 2 Windows-based gaming handheld but now it’s rumored to be smashing those two worlds together into the GPD Win Max.
Autonomous car startup Drive.ai will permanently shut down, with Apple swooping in to grab key driverless tech engineers, it’s been confirmed, as the tough challenge of removing humans from behind the steering wheel claims another victim. The company launched publicly back in mid-2016, promising its artificial intelligence and deep learning algorithms would allow its self-driving vehicles to quickly assess and learn new locations. Story TimelineApple nabs ex-Waymo senior self-driving engineerThe Apple Car rumor just won’t dieApple’s Project Titan driverless car team laid off 190 people Come 2018, Drive.ai was ready to put that into practice. The company began an on-demand ride-hailing service in Arlington, Texas, with users in the pilot able to summon an autonomous van that would shuttle them around certain preconfigured locations. The reality of the challenge Drive.ai had taken on, though, quickly became clear. Originally, the pilot had intended to offer flexible pick-ups and drop-offs; that was downgraded to a handful of preset stops. It’s unclear how many people have used the service since its launch. Reports earlier this month suggested Drive.ai was struggling, and on the hunt for potential suitors, with Apple named as a strong possibility. Leaks indicated talks were ongoing to bring the Drive.ai team in-house, and use its expertise to bolster Apple’s Project Titan, the project working on autonomous car technologies and other automotive work. Now, Drive.ai will shutter its business, according to a filing made with the Employment Development Department of California. In the document, spotted by the SF Chronicle, it’s confirmed that 90 employees will lose their jobs due to the company permanently closing. That will take effect at the end of the week. A spokesperson for the city of Arlington confirmed that the autonomous pilot ended on May 31, despite the original contract running through until October. Drive.ai requested that the one year long pilot end early. It’s a tough end for a startup that, only two years ago, was valued at around $200 million. However at least some of the talent there has gone on to find new roles at Apple. The SF Chronicle reviewed a number of LinkedIn profiles for hardware and software engineers, and discovered that at least five have updated to show that they left Drive.ai in June and joined Apple. Four of the five are said to list their roles as in “special projects” at the Cupertino firm. Apple’s intentions for Project Titan have reportedly varied, as the company looks to expand its footprint into new segments. Originally believed to be working on a homegrown autonomous vehicle, a shake-up in the team seemed to downgrade those ambitions somewhat. Instead, it was suggested, Apple was aiming to supply electronics, driver-assistance technologies, and infotainment products to existing automakers.Since then, though, signs that there may be something more significant than that have reawakened. Doug Field, who left Apple to join Tesla, rejoined Apple in 2018. During his five years at the automaker, he was VP of Vehicle Programs, and led development of new electric cars. Now, he’s in charge of Apple’s Project Titan.Update: Apple confirmed to Axios that this was an acqui-hire, with “dozens” of engineers from Drive.ai joining the Cupertino workforce. Drive.ai will, as the filing suggests, officially shut down, and apparently ceased operations within the past two weeks. According to sources, the hired staff are “mostly in the area of engineering and product design”; Apple’s purchase price was not revealed.
Julian Chokkattu/Digital TrendsDespite the slow rollout of 5G network infrastructure, Samsung is trying to do its part to get superb 5G and A.I. technologies in consumer hands as quickly as possible.The electronics giant has announced the mass production of 12-gigabit LPDDR5 mobile DRAM in 6 and 12 GB capacities. While many high-end phones currently on the market, including the Galaxy S10, utilize the previous generation of LPDDR4X DRAM, Samsung says this latest chip evolution will bring optimized support for 5G and A.I. applications. The 12 GB configuration will facilitate transfer speeds of up to 44 GB of data in only 1 second.Those are some pretty wicked-fast speeds, and Samsung says it’s ready to ramp up production on these chips if interest is high enough in the global market. Consumer interest in such killer transfer speeds could be quite high if these numbers can hold up and achieve the 5,500 megabit-per-second transfers claimed in Samsung’s report.The company said this latest chip is up to 30% more efficient than its LPRDDR4X predecessor, while also being 1.3 times faster on the same second-generation 10-nanometer process. This is thanks to a new circuit design with “enhanced clocking, training and [a] low-power feature” that allows its new mobile DRAM to enable next-gen flagship smartphones to “fully leverage 5G and A.I. capabilities like ultra-high-definition video recording and machine learning, while greatly extending the battery life.”While Samsung has little to do with the successful roll out of 5G infrastructure, devices harnessing the proper components to take full advantage of this mobile evolution will be paramount to its success in powering new technologies and doing so efficiently. Nearly every major phone manufacturer is expected to release 5G phones through 2019 — with the exception of Apple— but it may not be until the 2020 launch of the rumored Galaxy S11 that we see this technology make its way into our hands.Until then, we’ll have only the dream of such lightning-fast data speeds on our phones – much like most of the U.S. now, which is awaiting proper 5G coverage. This won’t stop Samsung from pushing forward, though, as it has stated its plans to also develop a 16Gb LPDDR5 next year. Editors’ Recommendations Sprint’s 5G rollout: Everything you need to know about it Samsung Galaxy Note 10: Everything we know Samsung could launch a clamshell-style foldable phone in 2020, report says 5 features I’d like to see in Google’s Pixel 4 smartphone What is UFS 3.0 storage? We asked an expert about the SSD for phones
Viewpoints: Romney, Obama Offer Their ‘Visions For America;’ One Liberal Wary Of Mass. Effort On Assisted Suicide This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. CNN: President Barack Obama: My Vision For AmericaChange is an America where we reduce our deficit by cutting spending where we can, and asking the wealthiest Americans to go back to the income tax rates they paid when Bill Clinton was president. I’ve worked with Republicans to cut a trillion dollars of spending, and I’ll do more. I’ll work with anyone of any party to move this country forward. But I won’t agree to eliminate health insurance for millions of poor, elderly, or disabled on Medicaid, or turn Medicare into a voucher just to pay for another millionaire’s tax cut (Barack Obama, 11/1).CNN: Mitt Romney: My Vision For America We will restore fiscal sanity to Washington by bringing an end to the federal spending and borrowing binge that in just four years has added more debt held by the public than almost all previous administrations combined. We will put America on track to a balanced budget by eliminating unnecessary programs, by sending programs back to states where they can be managed with less abuse and less cost, and by shrinking the bureaucracy of Washington (Mitt Romney, 11/2). The Washington Post: The Choice Obama’s intention has always been to re-normalize, to reverse ideological course, to be the anti-Reagan — the author of a new liberal ascendancy. Nor did he hide his ambition. In his February 2009 address to Congress he declared his intention to transform America. This was no abstraction. He would do it in three areas: health care, education and energy. … And it wasn’t just rhetoric. He enacted liberalism’s holy grail: the nationalization of health care. His $830 billion stimulus, by far the largest spending bill in U.S. history, massively injected government into the free market — lavishing immense amounts of tax dollars on favored companies and industries in a naked display of industrial policy (Charles Krauthammer, 11/1). Journal of the American Medical Association: Voting With The Weight Of 32 Million Next Tuesday, each of us has a chance to make our vote count 32 million times. What I mean by that is a vote for reelecting President Obama will ensure that 32 million uninsured people gain coverage as promised under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). A vote for the challenger, Governor Mitt Romney, endorses his commitment to overturn the coverage expansion, insurance regulations, reforms in the health care delivery system, and public health strategies that are the foundation of the law (Dr. Andrew Bindman, 11/1).Kansas City Star: Some Food For Thought For VotersJust when we need to be building a new economic engine, governments around the world find themselves hamstrung by previously planned spending and debt. Governments are recognizing that they’ve over-promised pension benefits. And that health care costs for aging populations will soon begin to starve out other budgetary needs. Many countries are either cutting back now, or like the United States, seriously debating about how and how much to slow the growth of spending in the coming decades. Voters, too, are coming to a scary realization: They now know they won’t be able to count so much on governmental help in their older years (Keith Chrostowski, 11/2). The Philadelphia Inquirer: Could Simply Voting – For Obama Ot Rommney – Impact A Community’s Health During these final days leading up to the election, I find myself more and more aware of the barrage of television advertisements, political commentary and tightening polls. … And as an observer from the perspective of public health, I began to wonder what, if anything, participation in voting might have to do with people’s well-being, apart from the critical and contentious debate about the Affordable Care Act. … we should agree that greater, not lesser, voter participation is good for the health of us all. And, whatever our political affiliations, we should go to the polls on Tuesday empowered by evidence that doing so is not only good for the democratic process but may be critical for the future health of our communities and our country (John Rich, 11/2). The Washington Post: Liberals Should Be Wary Of Assisted Suicide The Death with Dignity movement has done enormous good by calling attention to problems in our medical system. It often did a poor job of pain management and so emphasized medical concerns, in the narrowest sense, that it dehumanized the final months of life for many terminally ill patients. Because of pressure from the Death with Dignity movement, there have been marked improvements on both fronts. And we need to continue moving forward. On the issue of pain, I believe in the need to continue drawing a bright line between risking a patient’s death by prescribing heavy doses of pain medication, and killing a patient outright. Some might dismiss this distinction as forced, but it isn’t. In particular, making this distinction helps us avoid compromising the doctor’s role as a healer (E.J. Dionne Jr., 11/1). The Wall Street Journal: A Parable Of Health-Care Rationing Ion Beam Applications is now the world’s leading purveyor of equipment for proton therapy, a form of particle radiation designed to treat tumors aggressively while sparing more healthy tissue than in other forms of radiation. The U.S. has 11 such centers in operation—more than any other country. Eight of them were designed, built and installed by IBA. But Mr. Legrain’s American dream is in doubt, particularly as it relates to high-cost medical innovation. … Proton therapy can cost more than twice as much as the methods it is replacing, and it is already being scrutinized as Americans prepare to put more health care on the public tab (Anne Jolis, 11/1). Health Policy Solutions: Obamacare Saved Consumers $2.1 Billion in 2012For most Americans, when it comes to the Affordable Care Act, the proof is in the pudding: Will it make health care more affordable? Will it save me money? Here’s a number: $2.1 billion. That’s the amount saved in 2012 by consumers because of two provisions of the ACA, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. That’s money in the pocketbook for millions of Americans, and it supports the notion that insurance premiums can be better managed (Bob Semro, 11/1).
Kaiser Health News: Costly Hepatitis C Treatments Help Drive 12 Percent Drug Spending Jump Pricetags For New Therapies, Generics Push Up Drug Spending Costly hepatitis and cancer treatments helped boost U.S. drug spending this year by almost 12 percent, according to a survey. Meanwhile, Gilead Sciences buys a shortcut for FDA drug review for $125 million, the Justice Department probes big price increases for generic drugs and some Medicare beneficiaries will pay a greater portion of their drug costs. NPR: Gilead Buys Shortcut For FDA Drug Review For $125 Million Federal health officials on Wednesday took steps to compel scientists to make clinical study results public even when the findings cut against the interest of pharmaceutical companies. The National Institutes of Health released a proposed rule that would give federal officials more power to enforce a 2007 law that generally called for results of many medical studies to be published. The proposed rule would, for example, typically require researchers to publish later-stage studies even when the FDA doesn’t approve the drug or device being evaluated. (Burton, 11/19) The Philadelphia Inquirer: Justice Department, Senate Investigating Generic Drug Price Hikes The Wall Street Journal’s Pharmalot: Sticker Shock: Some Medicare Part D Beneficiaries Will Pay More Next Year How much is a fast track for the Food and Drug Administration review of a new drug worth? Try $125 million. In an auction, Gilead Sciences, a maker of HIV and hepatitis medicines, just bought a coupon good for the accelerated review of a drug of the company’s choice from Knight Therapeutics, a Canadian company. The priority review voucher entitles Gilead to move a drug of its choice through the FDA four months faster than the normal track. (Hensley, 11/19) Meanwhile, the government is taking steps to compel scientists to make study results public even when they are not in the interest of drugmakers – The 1984 federal law that spawned the generic pharmaceutical industry was designed to use the basic idea of economic competition to lower the cost of prescription medicine for millions of Americans. The law has largely served its intended purpose. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said in January that the national rate of retail prescription drug spending slowed in 2012, growing only 0.4 percent because of “numerous drugs losing patent protection, leading to increased sales of lower-cost generics.” But no market can be perfect, even good, for every participant all the time, and some of the 12,000 generic drugs on that market have skyrocketed in price in the last 18 months, according to people in the industry. (Sell, 11/20) Global pharmaceutical spending will break the trillion dollar mark in 2014, driven by high prices in the United States for novel treatments such as Gilead Sciences Inc’s Sovaldi for hepatitis C and new cancer drugs, according to a study released on Thursday. Total spending on drugs will hit $1.06 trillion, an increase of 7 percent over 2013 levels, according to the report from the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics. The increase also reflected a slowdown in the introduction of cheaper generic versions of branded medicines. (Humer, 11/20) As the new year approaches, many Americans with prescription drug coverage provided by Medicare Part D may encounter sticker shock. The reason is that more Part D beneficiaries will be expected to pay co-insurance, which means they will be asked to pay a higher percentage of the total cost of their medicines. As many as 66% of Part D plans will apply co-insurance, an increase of 83% from last year, for their top formulary tiers, according to an analysis by Avalere Health, a consulting firm. These tiers include expensive specialty medicines and so-called non-preferred brand-name drugs, which are reimbursed at lower rates. (Silverman, 11/19) Reuters: Drug Spending Tops $1 Trillion On Hep C, Cancer Therapies This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. The Wall Street Journal: NIH Proposes Greater Disclosure Of Clinical Studies After several years of modest increases, American spending on medications is projected to shoot up by 12 percent this year, pushing the nation’s drug bill to between $375 billion and $385 billion, according to a report by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics. Several factors are driving the spending spike, including the introduction of expensive new hepatitis C drugs and fewer drug patent expirations than in previous years, the report found. Such expirations typically lead to savings as cheaper generics replace brand-name drugs. (Rabin, 11/20)
Former Rep. Steve LaTourette, gravely ill with pancreatic cancer, has filed a claim against the government over the treatment he received from his Capitol doctors, claiming they failed to pass along critical information about a lesion on the organ and the need for follow-up monitoring. LaTourette, R-Ohio, filed administrative claims against the government earlier this month in anticipation of filing a lawsuit later. But papers filed with a federal court in Washington last week say LaTourette “is likely to succumb to rapid physical and cognitive deterioration” and urge that he be allowed to testify now since he may not be able to when any lawsuit is filed. (Taylor, 5/28) This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. Missouri Republican Senator Roy Blunt visited a community health clinic in north St. Louis Thursday and pledged support for the model, which uses federal funds to provide basic healthcare services for people who are uninsured or living in poverty. The Affordable Care Act included an increase in funding to community health centers over the past five years. Congress has extended the funding for another two years. (Bouscaren, 5/28) St. Louis Public Radio: Blunt Expresses Support For Community Health Centers In St. Louis Former Congressman Alleges Capitol Physicians Failed To Alert Him To Cancer Threat Former Rep. Steve LaTourette, R-Ohio, who is battling pancreatic cancer, says the doctors failed to give him important information about a lesion on the pancreas and the need for follow-up appointments. Also in the news, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., pledges renewed support for community health clinics. The Associated Press: Former Rep. LaTourette Files Claim Over Missed Cancer
Why Does It Cost So Much To Treat A Snakebite? The Washington Post examines the hospital and medication costs associated with giving anti-venom. In the meantime, Bloomberg looks at why some venture capitalists’ bet on a diet pill failed. Bloomberg: These Venture Capitalists Bet Big On A Miracle Fat Pill And Lost This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. Every once in awhile somebody will go and get themselves bitten by a venomous snake, and come home with an outrageous hospital bill that makes headlines. Nobody expects antivenom to be cheap. Making the most common rattlesnake antivenom, for instance, involves injecting sheep with snake venom and then harvesting the antibodies produced by the animals’ immune systems. But does that process, complicated as it may be, add up to the estimated $2,300 per vial hospitals pay for the stuff? (Ingraham, 9/9) Imagine a pill that mimics the effects of vigorous exercise on the body. Three years ago, Bruce Spiegelman, a prominent Harvard scientist, said he had discovered an “exercise hormone” that promised to unlock a new way to treat obesity and diabetes. It didn’t take long before a leading biotech VC firm, Third Rock Ventures, made a big bet on the hormone. Feverish press coverage followed, hailing a potential new miracle drug. So why did Third Rock quietly pull the plug on the project earlier this year? (Chen, 9/10) The Washington Post’s Wonkblog: The Crazy Reason It Costs $14,000 To Treat A Snakebite With $14 Medicine
Surprisingly though, Tesla did a lot more than offer a lower priced Model 3; they slashed the pricing on the Models S & X, by $12,000 to $18,000, respectively, as well. The Model 3 is now available in six different variations as follows:Model Range Top Speed 0-60 PriceStandard Range: 230 130 mph 5.6 Sec $35,000Standard Range Plus: 240 130 mph 5.6 Sec $37,000Mid Range: 264 140 mph 5.2 Sec $40,000Long Range: 325 140 mph 5.0 Sec $43,000AWD Long Range: 310 145 mph 4.5 Sec $47,000AWD Performance: 310 162 mph 3.2 Sec $58,000*Prices exclude Tesla’s $1,200 destination and documentation feeAny other company would have had enough news for one day with the across-the-board price drop announcements, but not Tesla. They also announced that they would be closing just about all of their stores and transitioning to online sales only, with the exception of only a few stores which will be converted to “galleries”. That came to a surprise to me, since I just received an email from Tesla two days earlier asking for my support in their effort to increase the amount of Telsa stores in my home state, New Jersey.Tesla currently has four locations in New Jersey, and that’s all they are currently allowed to operate. The email stated that they are seeking support for a new bill that would allow Tesla to open ten more stores in the state. I received the message below in an email on February 26th, just two days before the announcement that they were closing all their stores: Hi Tom —Tesla’s goal is to accelerate the future of sustainable energy by educating consumers about our electric cars and energy products. We’re also working to make our purchase, delivery, and service processes as seamless as possible for customers in New Jersey.As you may know, New Jersey state law currently limits the number of licensed locations Tesla can operate in State, which is a major impediment for current and potential Customers who don’t live in proximity to one of our four locations.New Jersey Legislature is now considering two bills, Senate Bill S3493 and Assembly Bill A5097, that would lift this cap and allow Tesla to open 10 new store locations in New Jersey. This would allow us to deepen our investments throughout the state and create hundreds of local, well-paying jobs in a growing industry.This legislation would make it easier for thousands of New Jersey consumers, you, to learn about and purchase Tesla products that directly serve the State’s clean energy, clean air, and greater environmental goals. To date, Tesla’s zero emission vehicles have prevented over 3.9 million tons of harmful greenhouse gas emissions globally.Please assist us by letting your elected officials know that a sustainable future is important to you and that this bill will help us get there. It’s unclear why they sent this call to action, only to announce all store closings two days later. Did they have a sudden change of direction, or is this part of an unannounced plan? Either way, it’s strange at the very least, and quite puzzling.Tesla also moved three features from the Enhanced Autopilot option to the Fully Self-Driving option (Navigate on Autopilot, Autopark, Summon). They also shortened the name to just “Autopilot”, and dropped the price from $5,000 to $3,000. The Full Self Driving option is available once again, but now costs an additional $5,000, up from the previous $3,000. They also discontinued the Model X Standard Range.Was it a good idea to announce all these changes at the same time Tesla finally introduced the $35,000 Model 3? Too many changes at once can confuse buyers, existing owners and investors. Is this chaos or is Tesla just executing the plan that had all along? Price drops, store closings, and oh yeah, the $35,000 Model 3 has arrivedIt’s been a busy few days digesting all the moves Tesla made on Thursday when they also announced the arrival of the much anticipated $35,000 Model 3. In the latest installment of “Plugged In”, Alex from E For Electric and I discuss the busy day Tesla had yesterday, and try to make sense of it all.The obvious headliner is that Telsa has finally delivered a $35,000 version of the Model 3 sedan. There’s really no denying that this is great news for the company, as well as for the many thousands of loyalists that have been holding out for the promised $35,000 Model 3. Author Liberty Access TechnologiesPosted on March 2, 2019Categories Electric Vehicle News Source: Electric Vehicle News
by, Kavan Peterson, Editor, ChangingAging.orgTweet2Share3ShareEmail5 Shares[UPDATE: Click here to view all CAREGIFTED Blog of the Week Award winners.]This week ChangingAging launches a partnership with the non-profit organization Caregifted.org to honor and highlight outstanding online writing about caregiving with the Caregifted Blog of the Week Award.Long term, unpaid care partners are the unsung heroes of our world. These caregivers, who not only do the more-than-fulltime work of caregiving, but also write and share their experiences with the world, deserve to be recognized and honored. Heather McHughI will be working with Caregifted’s team and founder, MacArthur Genius Grant-winning poet Heather McHugh, to comb the caregiving blogosphere and select each week a winning blogger, blog post or blog to be honored with the award.Caregifted’s mission is straightforward – to offer relief and give voice to caregivers who have long cared for a severely disabled family member. To provide relief to these heroic caregivers, Heather has dedicated her 2009 McArthur Genius Grant to awarding free weeklong concierged respite getaways on which caregivers can recharge and renew. Caregifted asks nothing in return but the chance to tell their stories and to highlight the critical role caregivers play in our society.Respite getaways are held in inspiring locations – scenic vacation spots where caregivers can refresh their perspectives and return home rested and renewed. You are eligible to apply hereif, for more than a decade, you have given up much of your own leisure and occupation in order to do live-in full-time care for a severely disabled family member.As an award-winning poet, Heather is intimately acquainted with the power of prose. As it turns out, so too are many caregivers.“I know I’m not the only one wowed by these caregivers’ amazing lives and writings,” Heather said. “They supply surprisingly universal insights into the fundamental questions attending our being human.”The first Caregifted Blog of the Week Award goes to Lyn Jones for the post Heavy Lifting, Heavy Heart on the blog Mothering Kids with Special Needs.Darolyn “Lyn” Jones, in her own words, doesn’t “… just live this life of being a mother to a special needs child, I study it, and I write it.” Caregifted reports:During the 11 years she and her husband Jim have spent caring for her severely disabled son, she has written dozens of wonderfully composed and heartfelt works about a life that places so much weight upon her shoulders. Her blog beautifully illustrates the individual commitment that has made her a successful mother, writer, teacher and activist for literacy education, despite— or as she would say, because of—the demands of a life devoted to the care of her son. Will and Darolyn JonesVisit Caregifted.org to see more pictures of Lyn and read an excerpt of her writing. Each week ChangingAging will post a link to the Caregifted Blogger of the Week. You can also nominate a great blogger or blog post by emailing a link to email@example.com.Related PostsTweet2Share3ShareEmail5 SharesTags: Care Partner CAREGIFTED caregiving
May 26 2018Princeton Instruments (PI) and the Center for Structured Organic Particulate Systems (C-SOPS) are pleased to announce a six-month collaboration on a novel pharmaceutical technology that enables close monitoring and control of drug manufacturing processes. The research will be carried out by Rajesh Davé, distinguished professor of chemical engineering at NJIT and the site-leader of C-SOPS, which is a National Science Foundation-funded Engineering Research Center.Davé will use Raman spectroscopic measurements to monitor the formation of thin oral films, which contain medicine and dissolve in the mouth without the need for water, including in the drying process during manufacturing, in order to determine drug amount, uniformity and form. In addition, he will investigate the degradation processes of active pharmaceutical ingredients in solid-dose drugs.“We are extremely excited about this collaboration with Dr. Davé and C-SOPS. We are convinced that high performance spectrometers can provide unmatched capabilities for some of the most challenging applications in the pharmaceutical industry, like process monitoring of low dose and thin film coated drug manufacture,” said Dr. Peng Zou, product manager at PI. The primary instrument to be used in this collaboration is the Princeton Instruments FERGIE spectrometer. It is the latest addition of spectrometer products that have integrated PI’s proprietary aberrationfree optical design and deep cooled charge-coupled device (CCD) detector.“We are excited to use this technology, which allows us to better understand the manufacturing of these thin films that are loaded with drug particles and, depending on how the wet film dries, how that could potentially change the way drug particles are distributed,” Davé said. “Without disturbing the film, this monitoring, or ‘non-destructive testing,’ will allow pharmaceutical companies to not only improve film product quality, but guarantee their performance without additional testing, which can involve physically destroying some of the film samples.”C-SOPS works closely with industry leaders and regulatory authorities to improve the way pharmaceuticals, foods and agriculture products are manufactured. The group focuses on advancing the scientific foundation for the optimal design of SOPS with advanced functionality while developing the methodologies for their active control and manufacturing.Headquartered at Rutgers University, C-SOPS partners include the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Purdue University, the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez, and more than 40 industrial consortium member companies. Source:https://www.princetoninstruments.com/
Jul 24 2018The International Antiviral Society-USA Panel has released updated recommendations for the treatment and prevention of HIV infection in adults, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Michael Saag, M.D., director of the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Center for AIDS Research, served as the article’s lead author.The recommendations, developed by a volunteer panel of international experts in HIV research and patient care, outline new findings, drugs, approaches and data as updates to previous recommendations from 2016. They are intended to be used as guidelines by clinicians moving forward.The recommendations indicate that continued advances in the development of antiretroviral drugs for HIV prevention and treatment are necessary and are contributing to improved clinical management and outcomes for individuals at risk for or living with HIV.”The recommendations reflect the joint commitment of researchers working to collectively improve clinical outcomes and treatments available for all at-risk or infected HIV patients,” said Saag, professor of medicine in UAB’s Division of Infectious Diseases. “We know that antiretroviral therapy is the cornerstone of prevention and management of HIV infection; but it’s critical to continually evaluate new data and treatments for initiating therapy, monitoring individuals starting therapy, changing regimens and preventing HIV infection for those at risk, reaffirming the standard of providing the utmost treatment and care possible.”In addition to reconfirming 2016 recommendations of antiretroviral therapy (ART) as a substantial means for HIV treatment and prevention, updated recommendations include but are not limited to:Related StoriesAlcohol reduction associated with improved viral suppression in women living with HIVPatients with HIV DNA in cerebrospinal fluid have high risk of experiencing cognitive deficitsScripps CHAVD wins $129 million NIH grant to advance new HIV vaccine approach Updating initial regimens, focusing primarily on unboosted integrase strand transfer inhibitor (InSTI) regimens Encouraging rapid initiation of antiretroviral therapy, including same-day initiation, if feasible Recommendations against routine use of mycobacterium avium complex prophylaxis for those with advanced disease on effective antiretroviral therapy Recommendations for discontinuation of routine CD4 count lab testing once a patient has sustained undetectable HIV RNA levels for a year and has a CD4 count above 250 cells Source:http://www.uab.edu/news/health/item/9616-international-organization-releases-new-guidelines-for-treatment-and-prevention-of-hiv-infection-in-adults An alternative for pre-exposure prophylaxis for those who are uninfected with HIV but remain at risk for infection to now include an episode-based approach where individuals can take preventive ART pills prior to exposure, and a follow-up pill once daily for two days post-exposure”HIV care continues to evolve, and clinicians and their patients benefit from applying the latest knowledge to keep pace with the many ways this has changed,” said Paul Volberding, M.D., professor at the University of California San Francisco and a study co-author. “The latest IAS-USA guidelines continue a tradition of providing a concise and current set of recommendations, and we are proud of how these have captured the directions in our field of medicine.”According to the article, all updated recommendations focus on adults 18 years or older with or at risk for HIV infection with availability to most antiretroviral drugs.
Source:https://www.pennmedicine.org/news/news-releases/2018/august/cancer-cells-send-out-drones-to-battle-immune-system-from-afar Aug 9 2018Cancer cells are more than a lump of cells growing out of control; they participate in active combat with the immune system for their own survival. Being able to evade the immune system is a hallmark of cancer. Cancer cells release biological “drones” to assist in that fight-;small vesicles called exosomes circulating in the blood and armed with proteins called PD-L1 that cause T cells to tire before they have a chance to reach the tumor and do battle, according to researchers from the University of Pennsylvania.The work, published in the journal Nature, is a collaboration between Wei Guo, PhD, a professor of Biology in the School of Arts and Sciences, and Xiaowei Xu, MD, PhD, a professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine in the Perelman School of Medicine. While primarily focused on metastatic melanoma, the team found that breast and lung cancer also release the PD-L1-carrying exosomes.The research offers a paradigm-shifting picture of how cancers take a systemic approach to suppressing the immune system. In addition, it also points to a new way to predict which cancer patients will respond to anti-PD1 therapy that disrupts immune suppression to fight tumors and a means of tracking the effectiveness of such therapies.”Immunotherapies are life-saving for many patients with metastatic melanoma, but about 70 percent of these patients don’t respond,” said Guo. “These treatments are costly and have toxic side effects so it would be very helpful to know which patients are going to respond. Identification of a biomarker in the bloodstream could potentially help make early predictions about which patients will respond, and, later on, could offer patients and their doctors a way to monitor how well their treatment is working.””Exosomes are tiny lipid-encapsulated vesicles with a diameter less than 1/100 of a red blood cell. What we have found with these circulating exosomes, is truly remarkable,” said Xu. “We collected blood samples from melanoma patients treated with anti-PD1 therapy. This type of liquid biopsy assay allows us to monitor tumor-related immune suppression with time. “One of the most successful innovations in cancer therapy has been the use of checkpoint inhibitor drugs, which are designed to block attempts by cancer cells to suppress the immune system to allow tumors to thrive and spread. One of the primary targets for this class of drugs is PD-1, a protein on the surface of T cells. On tumor cells, they express a counterpart molecule called PD-L1, which interacts with the PD-1 protein on T cells, effectively turning off that cell’s anti-cancer response. Blocking that interaction using checkpoint inhibitors reinvigorates T cells, allowing them to unleash their cancer-killing power on the tumor.Related StoriesResearchers use AI to develop early gastric cancer endoscopic diagnosis systemNew protein target for deadly ovarian cancerStudy reveals link between inflammatory diet and colorectal cancer riskWhile it was known that cancer cells carried PD-L1 on their surface, in this new work, the team found that exosomes from human melanoma cells also carried PD-L1 on their surface. Exosomal PD-L1 can directly bind to and inhibit T cell functions. Identification of the exosomal PD-L1 secreted by tumor cells provides a major update to the immune checkpoint mechanism, and offers novel insight into tumor immune evasion.”Essentially exosomes secreted by melanoma cells are immunosuppressive.” Guo said. “We propose a model in which these exosomes act like drones to fight against T cells in circulation, even before the T cells get near to the tumor.” Since a single tumor cell is able to secrete many copies of exosomes, the interaction between the PD-L1 exosomes and T cells provides a systemic and highly effective means to suppress anti-tumor immunity in the whole body. This may explain why cancer patients might have weakened immune system.Because exosomes circulate in the bloodstream, they present an accessible way of monitoring the cancer/T cell battle through a blood test, compared to the traditional more-invasive biopsy of tumors. After an acute phase of treatment, the researchers envision such a test as a way to monitor how well the drugs are keeping cancer cells in check.By measuring pre-treatment levels of PD-L1, oncologists may be able to predict the extent of tumor burden in a patient and associate that with treatment outcome. In addition, a blood test could measure the effectiveness of a treatment, for example, levels of exosomal PD-L1 could indicate the level of T cell invigoration by immune checkpoint inhibitors.”In the future, I think we will begin to think about cancers as a chronic disease, like diabetes,” says Guo. “And just as diabetes patients use glucometers to measure their sugar levels, it’s possible that monitoring PD-L1 and other biomarkers on the circulating exosomes could be a way for clinicians and cancer patients to keep tabs on the treatments. It’s another step toward precision and personalized medicine.”