We may soon have our first $1 million drug. Who will pay for it? And how?


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The question is no longer academic: On Thursday, Spark Therapeutics won unanimous support from a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel for its gene therapy drug, Luxturna. It seems likely to win FDA approval in the coming months. But the cost will be hefty: Analysts estimate that Luxturna, which has been shown to restore vision in children with an inherited form of blindness, could cost $1 million per patient.

Will private insurers be willing to pay? What about taxpayers, via Medicaid and Medicare? And, importantly: What happens if patients — or insurers — do foot a hefty bill, only to find out the drug simply did not work for them?

The complete article

Meghana Keshavan — STAT

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100 Years Since Her Execution, Was Mata Hari a Sexy Spy or a Sexy Scapegoat?


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The enduring mystique.

In her own words, she was an international woman. She spoke several languages, she traveled around Europe constantly, she had lovers in every country, it seemed. With the advent of war, borders were secured, passports required, questions asked. Ambiguity and mystery were no longer assets, but instead brought her rapidly to the attention of the authorities. She was a woman with no fixed home, no husband, no steady source of income.

The complete article

Ellen Hampton — The Daily Beast

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Why Thaler’s Nobel is a well-deserved nudge for behavioural economics


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A well deserved Nobel for Thaler.

Mr Thaler advanced the field in two important ways. He campaigned for behavioural economics to be taken seriously within the economics profession. He also brought it into the policy environment with his book Nudge (co-authored with Cass Sunstein) and his support for behavioural policy units in the White House and 10 Downing Street.

Within the profession, Mr Thaler found a pulpit in the Journal of Economic Perspectives, an academic journal supplied to all members of the American Economic Association. His Anomalies column was witty and sharply reasoned, highlighting strange features of the economic and financial world that standard economic theory could not explain, and rigorously debunking unconvincing attempts at rationalisation.

The complete article

Tim Harford

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From prison to PhD


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A real life feat of rehabilitation.

In a breathtaking feat of rehabilitation, Jones, now 45, became a published scholar of American history while behind bars, and presented her work by videoconference to historians’ conclaves and the Indiana General Assembly. With no internet access and a prison library that skewed toward romance novels, she led a team of inmates that pored through reams of photocopied documents from the state archives to produce the Indiana Historical Society’s best research project last year. As prisoner No. 970554, Jones also wrote several dance compositions and historical plays, one of which is slated to open at an Indianapolis theater in December.

The complete article

The Marshall Project

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How fair is it for just three people to receive the Nobel Prize in physics?


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The article raises some pertinent questions regarding collaboration in science and the restriction to award a maximum of 3 only.

When publishing any scientific article, there is a basic conundrum – someone must receive the prime place on the list of authors. In some fields, authors covet the first place; in others, the last place. And the benefits of being the primary author go far beyond a single article. There’s a phenomenon called the “Matthew Effect” in science, referring to the observation in the Gospel of Matthew that the “rich get richer.” The noted author of an article is much more likely to receive attention into the future.

The complete article

Caroline Wagner — The Conversation

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The Eater Guide to the Whole Entire World


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Being a foodie, this is something I had to share. Great recommendations from all over the world.

Tapas at the bar in Barcelona, perfect roast goose in Hong Kong, dinner in a vineyard outside Melbourne, and brunch on a terrace in São Paulo — when we travel now, we travel to eat. But global restaurant-hopping goes beyond that perfect iconic essential dish: Restaurants and bars are an opportunity to slip into daily life and experience a city’s unique rhythm. We tapped dozens of local experts to open the doors to the best, the coolest, the weirdest, the most inspiring culinary experiences a traveler can have — in short, these maps are exactly what we want to have at our fingertips when we step off a plane.

The complete guide

Eater

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How to get to a world without suicide


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Trying to reach a world with no suicides. A commendable effort.

A simple belief drives Mallen: that Edward should still be alive, that his death was preventable – at several stages during the rapid onset of his depression. Moreover, Mallen and a growing number of mental health experts believe that this applies to all deaths by suicide. They argue that with a well-funded, better-coordinated strategy that would reform attitudes and approaches in almost every function of society – from schools and hospitals to police stations and the family home – it might be possible to prevent every suicide, or at least to aspire to.

The complete article

Simon Usborne — Mosaic

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