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Today’s top news highlights: Remdesivir data dive, FDA approves contraceptive gel


Here are the stories our MDedge editors across specialties think you need to know about today:

Remdesivir trial data published

Weeks after topline remdesivir data appeared in the press, investigators published their full experience using the drug to treat COVID-19 patients. The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed the drug reduced recovery time from 15 to 11 days, compared with placebo. Patients receiving oxygen seemed to fare best from treatment with remdesivir. “There is clear and consistent evidence of clinically significant benefit for those hospitalized on oxygen but not yet requiring mechanical ventilation,” Daniel Kaul, MD, a professor of infectious diseases at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, said after seeing the published results. “Surprisingly, early dosing as measured from time to onset of symptoms did not seem to make a difference.” READ MORE.

FDA approves contraceptive gel

The Food and Drug Administration approved Phexxi (lactic acid, citric acid, and potassium bitartrate) vaginal gel to prevent pregnancy in women of reproductive potential. It’s the first nonhormonal, on-demand, vaginal pH regulator contraceptive designed to maintain vaginal pH within the range of 3.5-4.5. READ MORE.

COVID-19 lessons from one cancer center

Physicians at Levine Cancer Institute in Charlotte, N.C., largely have been able to keep hematologic oncology patients on their treatment regimens and continue to care for inpatients during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. How have they kept the situation managable? Strict infection control, liberal testing, and a proactive plan to defer and temporarily replace infusion care when medically appropriate were all part of the strategy. “My impression is that the incidence has been low partly because our patients, especially those with hematologic malignancies including those on active chemotherapy, were already getting warned to be cautious, even before the coronavirus, using distancing, masking, and meticulous hand hygiene,” said Peter Voorhees, MD, professor of medicine and director of Medical Operations and Outreach Services in Levine Cancer Institute’s Department of Hematologic Oncology and Blood Disorders. READ MORE.

Convalescent plasma: Hope or hype?

There are currently more than two dozen trials of convalescent plasma in the United States and elsewhere but most are single-arm trials to determine if one infusion can decrease the need for intubation or help patients on a ventilator to improve. Others researchers are investigating whether convalescent plasma might be used before severe disease sets in. Meanwhile, about 2,200 hospitals are participating in an expanded access program being led by the Mayo Clinic nationwide. The National Institutes of Health recently said that “there are insufficient clinical data to recommend either for or against” its use for COVID-19. READ MORE.

New rosacea treatment guidelines

Patients with rosacea should receive treatments based on their phenotype and specific symptoms, rather than being assigned into distinct subtype categories, according to updated guidance published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. The update comes from the National Rosacea Society Expert Committee and is based on a review of the evidence. Patients “shouldn’t be classified as having a certain subtype of rosacea” since “many patients have features that overlap more than one subtype,” said Diane Thiboutot, MD, lead author of the update and a professor of dermatology and associate dean of clinical and translational research education at Penn State University, Hershey. READ MORE.

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