The subway, the sidewalk, the dinner table, concerts, the Halls of Congress. No matter where you are, you’re bound to be surrounded by cell phones. 95% of Americans have one, and on average, we look at it 52 times a day. Sometimes our phone feels more like an appendage than a communication device.

Now, new research confirms that Americans are clocking in over 3 hours and 43 minutes each day on their phones and tablets -- more than they do watching TV.

As technology evolves it impacts how we’re using our devices. Aside from working, the number one smartphone activity is shopping. After shopping, 57% of people get their news on apps, 45% listen to music, and 31% stream films.

So while the National Day for Unplugging (yes, that’s a thing) was in March, this has us thinking we all may be due for some device detox….once you’re done reading The Week That Was, of course.



 Expanded Access Programs (EAPs) often grant access to investigational therapies outside of clinical trials, for patients with no other available or effective options. However, finding a relevant EAP and submitting a request can be a time-consuming process for a patient and their doctor. In a new effort to streamline the process, FDA has launched a pilot program in oncology, Project Facilitate. A call center will provide oncologists a single point of contact for everything from paperwork to finding an institutional review board to identifying a drug company contact. If a company rejects a request, FDA will ask the company why. If EAP is granted, FDA will ask the doctor for an update on patient status, including side effects.  


 A growing body of evidence confirms that when people face high healthcare costs, they put off getting care, often to the detriment of their health. In a new breast cancer study, Health Affairs found low-income women with high deductible health plans experienced relative delays of 1.6 months to first breast imaging, 2.7 months to first biopsy and 6.6 months to incident early-stage breast cancer diagnosis. This amounted to a nearly 12-month delay in diagnosis compared to women in low deductible plans. While the study didn’t directly compare long-term outcomes, other studies have shown earlier treatment = better results.


 A new Evaluate Pharma report forecasted the future of the pharma industry – through 2024. The report predicts increased spending on oncology R&D compared to other individual therapeutic areas ($91.1 billion), continuing to grow until it makes up 40% of total pipeline expenditure by 2024. Drug sales will reach $1.18 trillion in 2024, compared to $843 billion in 2019. $239 billion of that total is expected to be spent on orphan drugs.


 A data breach at the American Medical Collections Agency has impacted a number of healthcare companies. In totality, more than 20 million people’s credit card and bank account information, email, home addresses, and phone numbers could be at-risk. Unfortunately, data breaches in the healthcare sector are not uncommon. There were 42 in April alone, and nearly 4.3 million people were potentially impacted by provider and health plan breaches from January to April 2019. 


 It’s not just Meatless Mondays anymore. Beyond Meat – a plant-based meat company that IPOed in May – knocked it out of the park on their first earnings report, exceeding analyst expectations and presenting an annual outlook that suggested an even brighter future. Meatless mania prevailed on Friday, with the stock rallying to a record high, surging to more than 400% of its IPO price. Call Eric on our team to find out what they did right!


 You get a policy, you get a policy, everybody gets a policy

Like many in the industry, we spent the front end of the week at BIO, one of the biggest biopharma confabs of the year. On the agenda: discussions on new innovations, pricing and access.

FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless said he was disappointed with the media’s focus on pricing at approval for innovative therapies. Sharpless used a recently approved therapy as an example, noting, “This is a completely novel, almost magical miracle that ends a devastating disease for lots of little kids and the thing you care the most about is the price? I mean, really? If you’re so cynical you can’t see how wonderful and great that is…you need to re-wear your happy hat.”

Aside from feeling-based fascinators, public policy was the hottest trend at BIO. Here’s a rundown from our RRM strategist and policy expert, Michelle Leeds.

  • Rebate Rule: It turns out, the Trump administration’s proposal to eliminate the rebates between PBMs and pharmaceutical companies for Medicare and Medicaid managed care plans comes at a cost. To be exact, $177 billion in federal spending over 10 years. However, a delay or block to the rule could actually be an opportunity to address other healthcare costs. For example, it would potentially create a pot of money that could pay for something else, like an expensive bipartisan idea for capping out of pocket costs for Medicare Part D beneficiaries.
  • International Pricing Index: The Trump administration estimates its proposal to tie Medicare Part B drug spending to that of other developed nations would only reduce the industry R&D’s budget by 1%. But a new analysis, based on HHS’s own data, found the actual decrease in R&D spending could be as high as 5.3%. The proposal would have a particularly detrimental impact on companies with multiple medicines in Medicare Part B.
  • Major drug pricing policy changes could cool deal-making: A BIO session on pharma deal-making trends speculated on a potential dip in industry M&A if we see significant action from Washington to lower drug prices. 
  • Shifting payments in the catastrophic phase: At an Axios event this week (not at BIO), Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, saidthat he’d like to see pharma and insurers picking up more of the cost of drugs for patients in the catastrophic phase (the point after patients have reached a certain threshold of spending where the government picks up 80% of the tab). Grassley noted that the bipartisan package he plans to introduce in June will also include policies to increase competition from generics and transparency provisions. 


Who wrote this? The managing editors of TWTW are Randi Kahn, who is excited to move (both office and apartments) in just a few short weeks, and Dana Davis, who is attending a 80th birthday party this weekend 🎉.

Syneos Health Communications' Reputation & Risk Management Practice is a team of healthcare communications consultants, policy-shapers and crisis response specialists. We provide unique solutions to the evolving communications challenges in today’s healthcare industry, using evidence-based approaches to help our clients successfully navigate the most sensitive of situations.

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Image credits: health insurance by Arafat Uddin from the Noun Project, Double Burger by stolkramaker from the Noun Project

And now please enjoy this disclaimer that prevents our team from getting in a heap of trouble: This report may contain links to external or third party websites. These links are provided solely for your convenience. Links taken to other sites are done so at your own risk and Syneos Health accepts no liability for any linked sites or their content. Syneos Health makes no warranties or representations, express or implied about such linked websites, the third parties they are owned and operated by, the information contained on them or the suitability or quality of any of their products or services. Syneos Health does not authorize the infringement of any intellectual property rights contained in material offered through these linked sites. Please refer to the use agreement and/or copyright statements of any external site you visit, or the terms and conditions of any externally provided web site for instructions, restrictions, and guidelines. If you have a question, please contact the webmaster of the external site.

About the Author:

Randi Kahn is a Senior Media & Content Director in our Reputation & Risk Management Practice, where she helps clients build and protect their brand reputations through executive thought leadership, public affairs, and issues preparation and response. She has worked for clients throughout the healthcare ecosystem including payers, providers, patient groups and pharma.