Dispensed: Hospitals are stuck waiting for a promising coronavirus treatment

Dispensed: Hospitals are stuck waiting for a promising coronavirus treatment
Dr. Ed Kuffner outside NYC Health + Hospitals/Coney Island's emergency roomDr. Ed Kuffner



Welcome to Dispensed, Business Insider's weekly healthcare newsletter. Are you all ready for the Polar Vortex? I sure am (if only to keep my seasonal allergies at bay for a quick minute). Here's hoping it makes social distancing a bit easier here in Brooklyn.

I made a run by Prospect Park yesterday, and it was bustling with walkers, bikers, and joggers. The ice cream trucks are out, making me wonder whether that's a safe interaction I can look forward to this summer. It's nice to hear that my neighbors won't be leaving any time soon — as Jeremy Berke reports, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has frozen evictions for New Yorkers until August 20.

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Dispensed: Hospitals are stuck waiting for a promising coronavirus treatment
FILE - In this March 2020 photo provided by Gilead Sciences, a vial of the investigational drug remdesivir is visually inspected at a Gilead manufacturing site in the United States. On Wednesday, April 29, 2020, the company says its experimental antiviral drug has proved effective against the new coronavirus in a major U.S. government study that put it to a strict test. (Gilead Sciences via AP)Associated Press

The search for remdesivir has proven frustrating for hospitals

The race to develop treatments and vaccines for the novel coronavirus carries on.


But arguably the biggest story of the week in in the race to find treatments for COVID-19 began last Friday.

The Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency authorization for the drug's use. While not an approval, it could allow for more hospitalized patients to receive the drug, made by Gilead Sciences.

The US government is overseeing the distribution of the drug, and so far, there's been confusion about which hospitals will get the drug and when it'll arrive. Plus, it's not clear why some hospitals might get the drug, while others won't.

Andrew Dunn, Zach Tracer, and I spoke to hospitals this week to find out whether they'd gotten the drug or expected to get it. Some had been told they wouldn't get it, others were left waiting.

Here's a snippet of the frustrations hospitals are facing.


You can read the full story here:

The FDA raced to let doctors use the promising coronavirus treatment remdesivir. Now, hospitals are stuck waiting for supplies to show up.

(Are you new to BI Prime? Use my link here to get 20% off your BI Prime subscription.)

Dispensed: Hospitals are stuck waiting for a promising coronavirus treatment
Ruobing Su/Business Insider

How businesses are thriving — or surviving — during a pandemic

As the country starts to reopen, the biggest question is whether or not we're ready to do so. Jeremy and graphics fellow Ruobing Su pulled together the above map showing when states will be able to start reopening, according to researchers at Morgan Stanley. Some states are already in the early phases of being able to reopen.

We're now at the stage where we can start to contemplate how we can be ready for the next pandemic. Yeji Lee spoke to 7 top doctors and researchers to get their perspectives on how we can best prepare. Support for vaccine development — even in the absence of an immediate threat — is key, as is investing in public health, she reports.

For now, there's a number of companies that stand to benefit in the existing pandemic world:

But, as we've been reporting, hospitals are losing billions. So are primary care practices that have been hit hard financially as patients defer appointments. Kimberly Leonard reports on how primary care doctors are making it work, through video visits and parking lot waiting rooms.


You can read the full story here:

Doctors are getting creative about how they care for their patients amid the pandemic. 3 physicians share what they're doing — and the challenges they still face.

Dispensed: Hospitals are stuck waiting for a promising coronavirus treatment
Maimonides chair of surgery Dr. Patrick Borgen looks in on a patient in an ICU room.Lorraine Carita for Maimonides

We're learning more every day about COVID-19

As part of my conversations with doctors on the front lines, there have been certain refrains that have stuck with me.

For one, our knowledge of the virus and the impact it has on people continues to evolve. What's commonly accepted now in May was just starting to be noticed at the start of April.

That includes the clotting complication showing up in hospitalized COVID-19 patients. One hospital I spoke with is now sending patients home on blood thinners, with the hopes that it'll keep more patients from having the life-threatening complication arise after they leave.

Another big refrain: Doctors are alarmed at how many non-elderly patients they're seeing end up critically ill and on ventilators. We're talking people in their 30s, 40s, and 50s.

I spoke with doctors who spent the month of April watching the outbreak wallop NYC. They gave me an inside look at what transpired, from an overwhelming few weeks to now relatively quiet emergency rooms.


It's easy to get swept up in the statistics around COVID-19, of just how many have been sickened and how many have died. But individually, the crisis is hitting everyone in different ways.

Hospital workers have been among the fatalities, and Business Insider is remembering them here.

Surprising charges related to COVID-19 are starting to pop up as well. Take Michael Santos, who went to the hospital to see if he had the novel coronavirus. He never did get the test but he did get a big bill at the end of the day, Kimberly reports.

You can read the full story here:

Michael Santos went to the hospital to get checked out for the coronavirus. He wound up with a $1,689 bill.

D.C. Dispatches

Lawmakers are working to think through the next coronavirus stimulus bill.

Democrats want to provide more funding to states, while Republicans say it's too soon to start thinking about the next bill, Kimberly reports.


Here's what Democrats are prioritizing in the next bill.

Elsewhere, Blake dug into "HHS Protect," a project in which the Department of Health and Human Services is working to pull together and analyze coronavirus data with the help of Palantir.

You can read the full story here:

Here's everything we know about HHS Protect, a secretive government project with Peter Thiel's Palantir that helps brief Trump's coronavirus task force

And a final dose of some of the content you might've expected to find leading the week's newsletter just a few short months ago: I rounded up the 2019 financial results for venture-backed health insurers Oscar, Bright, Devoted, Clover, and Alignment.

The insurers all posted net losses for the year, and should be out with their first-quarter 2020 results here in just a few weeks.

2020 was already shaping up to be a pivotal year as insurers like Oscar took on massive jumps in membership. I'll be curious to see how throwing a pandemic into the mix will impact results for the year.


That's all for this week, I hope you all are finding interesting ways to spend your weekends — has anyone cracked the code on a socially-distant vacation? You can reach me with you staycation itineraries and healthcare tips at lramsey@businessinsider.com, or the entire team at healthcare@businessinsider.com.

- Lydia

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