Immuno-dermatology, stuck in a “cassette world” of steroid treatments, needs to move to the digital era, according to Dermavant CEO Todd Zavodnick, whose drug Vtama is the first FDA-approved non-steroidal cream for plaque psoriasis. Lecia Bushak provides an update on yet another PBM reform bill introduced in Congress, and how the PBM industry is responding

Meanwhile, Elon Musk’s update on Neuralink’s first human patient tops our Trends segment, along with Brian Wilson’s conservatorship amid a dementia diagnosis and Joe Rogan’s podcast sparks an AIDS denialism controversy. Music by Sixième Son.

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Note: The MM+M Podcast uses speech-recognition software to generate transcripts, which may contain errors. Please use the transcript as a tool but check the corresponding audio before quoting the podcast.

Hey, it’s Marc…

As the audience for this podcast well knows, rare is the drug launch that proceeds in perfect linear fashion.

A product could have a compelling efficacy and safety profile, differentiation, payer coverage, and a big DTC marketing push behind it. And yet, despite having those key ingredients in place, breakout success may be elusive

On the flip side, we’ve seen products smash through sales expectations despite launching into competitive spaces with rivals who have broader labels and deeper promotional spend.

Everyone expects the launch curve to bend a certain way, but the reality is often different.

Enter Vtama from Dermavant Sciences. The firm received Food and Drug Administration approval for the topical drug for use in treating adults with plaque psoriasis in May 2022.

The first FDA-approved non-steroidal cream for the skin disease, Vtama garnered a blockbuster forecast from analysts. But the drug hasn’t caught on quite as fast as some had expected, and in fact has fallen far short of that during its first full year on the market.

There are various technical theories for that, but as Todd Zavodnick argues, Rome was not built in a day.

The Dermavant CEO – a 12-year veteran of the aesthetic and pharma industries whose former roles incl pres/GM of Galderma NA, has leveraged his deep experience in the derm category to lend perspective on his own drug’s launch curve.

And he’s urging everyone to …relax.

Zavodnick somewhat famously compared Vtama to Botox, a drug which had a sluggish start back in 90s and now consistently puts up megablockbuster sales numbers across its medical and therapeutic uses.

And there’s wisdom to his words. VTama is eyeing a second indication – atopic dermatitis – that could help the treatment gain entry to a population that’s three times the size of psoriasis, as soon as the fourth quarter of this year.

This week on the show, my colleague Jack interviews the Dermavant CEO for his views on balancing success with expectations, and why working in the derm field is not for the thin-skinned.

And Lecia’s here with a health policy update.

Hey Marc, today I’ll provide an update on another bill introduced in Congress that targets pharmacy benefit managers – and how the PBM industry is responding.

This week, we have an update from Elon Musk about Neuralink’s first human patient, Brian Wilson’s conservatorship amid a dementia diagnosis and Joe Rogan’s apparent AIDS denialism on his podcast.

A pleasure to have you on the show for those in our audience who may not be familiar with Derm event. Can you give us kind of a high level overview and then we get a more specific questions from there. Yeah.

Sure. Derma van is is a clinical and Commercial Stage biopharmaceutical Company in the field of Dermatology. Today. We’re focused mainly on immunodermatology. I’ll talk a little bit later about the Tama which is commercially approved for the treatment of psoriasis for those 18 and older and we’re currently studying a topic dermatitis or eczema. And we’re you know, we’ve recently submitted our file waiting to hear back from the FDA on the acceptance and and hopefully move forward to an approval sometimes in 2024 in the back half. So currently right now we’re we’re a member

Of the Roy vant family Roy van is our parent investor based in New York. They are a public company and they’ve been one of our major, you know funders and investors for the time. I’ve been here here as sixth year as CEO.

I appreciate you giving us kind of that high level overview obviously want to get into the stuff of the vtama but you bring up obviously the conditions that you’re focusing on the disease days as it relates to psoriasis a topic Derma dermatitis, we’ve covered those in various, you know, brand awareness campaigns and you know, you and your competitors obviously focusing in this area. What is the most critical thing to understand about these types of Dermatological conditions? Because I feel like we always see can you know commercials out there for sorry arthritis. There’s been more conversation about ad in recent years, but you know when you look at this space, where do you see the opportunity or how is

it changed since you’ve been CEO now, it’s a great question and for me, I guess a little bit of background. This is my 12th year in dermatology. I’ve lived and worked around the world in when you look at.

Really dermatology people look at it in two different areas. They’re sort of a medical Dermatology space and there’s an aesthetic Dermatology space and when we talk about the medical Dermatology space, you know psoriasis and atopic dermatitis or the immunoderm area makes up about 60 to 70 percent of of the value of that space. So that’s number one. I think number two.

They’re really when you look at pure innovation in immunodermatology. It’s why you’re seeing so many, you know, you said ads on TV, you see a lot in the oral and the injectable space, you know, really on the severe side of treatment or you’re really bad cases that have been untreated in you’ve really seen nothing until late into these last years topically there’s been minimal Innovation. So for me five and a half years ago when I took a look at Derma van and and spoke to Roy van and about coming aboard to build the company from Ground Zero it excited me to look at a non-steroidal option with to pin her off and beat him and why I say that is because

pretty much in immunodermatology 90% of the topical treatments are steroids.

And and dermatology. It’s sort of been a little bit Antiquated. I use the analogy. It’s been in stuck in the cassette world and and really these nonsteroidals myself and our competitors were moving it to the digital world of music today in 2023 and Beyond it’s so interesting to hear you talk about

kind of that difference between the aesthetic and the immuno area and I think we can dig a little bit more as the aesthetic one later because I want to get your thoughts and obviously this kind of renewed interest. I think you could say in terms of investment in the skincare industry, but you brought up vtama earlier you had at this point. It will be a couple months by the time this air but you got to phase three trial where you release some really promising data. Can you walk us through the top level findings out of that study and why you’re bullish on prospects?

Yeah, yeah, if you don’t mind, I’m gonna back up one minute and just share with you. So but back in May of 22, I think it’s important just to reflect back like it was a massive milestone for Derma van because again, we’re not just launching a product in vitamma for psoriasis. We build an entire company from zero. So it’s different when you launch a product within an existing company versus we stood up an entire organization and these trials were executed during one of the most catastrophic catastrophic events in our lifetime, which was the pandemic and our trials were done in the US and Canada for psoriasis. So now we’re sitting on, you know, close coming up, you know in May of 24 on two years since launch of psoriasis, as of today. We have you know, 275,000 prescriptions. We have 13,000 unique writers or Physicians writing the Tama nurse practitioners position assistance, which is remarkable at the same time now that we’re

The market commercially promoting for psoriasis are clinical part of our organization was executing our atopic dermatitis or eczema study that you asked about and and that’s remarkable and that that goes down to the age of two. So we looked at two to five. We had a subsection of six to 11 12 to 17. And then only 20% of our population was really above 18 years of age knowing that eczema atopic term originates within the younger generations. And we did a study of well over 800 patients too pivotals, which is what the FDA requires of an eight-week trial and you’re really looking for a two-point reduction from where patients came in at at moderate to severe. So moderates severe has scored as a three or four and we’re looking for a zero or one two point reduction from Baseline of where they started our results really were really remarkable in

I did that they were repeated. You know, you see our results in the 40% ranges. You see our results versus vehicle patients extremely happy we reported out on our itch data which again showed great reduction and itch and really immediate so in the journals that patients kept we saw its relief as early as day one in some patients within our journals of studies and we saw Adverse Events to be consistent with to penneroff and what we saw in our psoriatic trials where you know, we see folliculitis. We see some headache we see very low levels of contact term which really have an impeded the success so far up to Pinter off or Vita. So for us we’re we’re excited and that you know, what’s important here is we’re giving an offering that is a non-steroidal medication. We’re going down to the age of two which is important for parents that truly are making decisions for their children where you know, they don’t want to put steroid.

Their kids skin if they don’t have to they want a non-steroidal option whether it’s the the trunk or the body or it’s the sensitive areas like, you know, the groin or under the arms or on the face. So for us it’s exciting and and I should say this is it’s not just dermavan. There are other companies out there in the competitors world in the non-steroidal world who are doing a very good job. So it’s really just Derma van with these other organizations that are launching products. It’s our job to move really in immunodermatology this steroidal Foundation where 90% of topical sit over to this non-steroidal world be Tam is our product but these other companies are doing a great job and it’s it’s really at the three of us and more to come move steroids to the appropriate use and and really Drive non-steroidal medications. It’s gonna move us into the digital music world that Dermatology belongs really belongs to be at.

Right now in 2024.

I appreciate you calling it the digital music world and it’s interesting because I had a conversation with the president of the national psoriasis foundation for one of an event that was hosted by one of your competitors back in the fall as she was talking about that desire among a lot of the patient population and her herself as a patient advocate of moving away from the steroidal option if they’re able to to something that’s just the effective and non-steroidal what are next steps here. You’ve released the data, you know was that look like in terms of getting the approval that you’re looking for from the FDA. Are you bullish on that? What you know, what are the next steps there?

Yeah. No, it’s fair. It’s a great question. So, you know, obviously this is airing and and we’ve submitted so we’re waiting to hear back on the acceptance of the file. This is an snda, you know, as I said psoriasis was approved. So this is you know, typically a 10-month review period so we would expect in the back part of this year to hear from the FDA. I can you know predict what the agency does. I think we’ve worked very closely with them.

Our process much like we’ve done with psoriasis. I think what’s promising is what I started with is vitama is transforming lives. I mean the amount of patient stories we’ve gotten back in psoriasis the fact that we have over 275,000 units and 13,000 unique writers for vitama in in coming up on two years shows the agency that that this product is doing what it’s intended to do and it’s making a positive impact in in dermatology not just offering another solution, but it’s transforming the space moving steroids over to non-steroids with the other the other competitors. So, you know, I think for us it’s it’s really we are in two phases internally at Derm event. I think clinically it’s working with the agency to ensure that we’re answering their questions as we move forward to a hopeful approval in the back half of the year and secondarily. It’s it’s the commercial organization. Not only

Continuing to drive psoriasis in the marketplace, but it’s sort of this launch launch acceleration planning process where I’m sure you you know is when you launch a product it starts 24 months in advance, so our commercial and our medical organizations have been working hand in glove to really be ready, you know one to two years in advance. So when we get the approval

I’m a believer that day one approval is launch.

When you get approval from the FDA that doesn’t mean you wait 30 days or 60 days. That means product is ready. That means materials are ready. And that means the Physicians Pas nurse practitioners are ready. And and that that we show it Derma van that if we expect to transform the space, we’ve got to be ready day one second one.

And you talk about the being ready for that commercialization push and being able to you know, transform the industry like you talk about I saw in research for this interview headlines where you had talked about kind of the modest uptake that there been of the Tama I think was back in November and you would compare it to kind of the gradual rise. We saw with Botox and basically how yeah, I had a slower rise, but now you know Botox is something that people even use just off-handedly it has that sort of brand value as we sit here in you know, mid January with this conversation going up and mid February. What do you say to those who may have criticism the fact that like, hey we were expecting this sort of uptake and we’re just not there yet.

Yeah, no, it’s it’s look I I tried to give my respectful point of view. I think I think the beauty the beauty of business or the beauty in science is everybody’s entitled to their opinion, right? Everybody has their model and and their Excel and their spreadsheet and I think everybody expects a line to bend a certain way and I I came here five and a half years ago. I have a background in Pharmacology and and a Masters in Business and for me, I studied the molecule. I studied the space and I clearly see.

That this molecule is going to transform Dermatology now in the United States in the regulatory body and in the what I would believe is the conservative nature of the Dermatology field. There’s a component of time and acceptance and patient feedback with managed care that has to play out and I think it is a little bit takes a little bit more time in dermatology than I’ve seen maybe in spaces like gastroenterology or neurology with new mechanisms. So that was what I was trying to say is look psoriasis at 18 and above is is an older space and be Tama has done better than any other launch topically oral or injectable wise on new patients starts and that’s proven through data. I think what what is exciting is a topic dermatitis is three times the size of psoriasis. So you’re not just talking to dermatologist or pediatric dermatologist or allergists, you’re talking to pediatricians and family practice doctors and you’re really unleashing

a molecule that down to two years of age

That won’t just transform in dermatology but medicine itself. So I gave the analogy of of Botox simply because I I think Rome was not built in a day. And I think it’s really easy in 18 months to criticize but it’s also important to recognize what’s been done. And when you look at the curves that beat Hamas produced and you look at the success with patients and you hear the stories, I’ve got one this morning from somebody that said that they started in December and this is the first product that they’ve seen this faster results in in their timeline of psoriatic treatment through the years it is that component. I think we’re balancing obviously success with expectations of time and and I think a topic dermatitis is exciting because it gives us the ability to to show explosive growth on top of the growth we’ve done with psoriasis and you know, if it was easy, I always say everybody would be doing it.

Unfortunately, it’s not and I think the data shows that not just Derm event, but the other companies in this space we are going to be successful moving steroids to non steroids. These are good medicines and it’s the right thing for the patient. I don’t think we’re going to eliminate steroids, but I think we’re going to have appropriate use of steroids with the non-steroidal vitamin and other options and it’s gonna help the patience and it’s gonna be good for Dermatology, but I think it’s just terms are a little bit more conservative.

And it just takes a little bit longer but we’re there we’re in year two and I expect ad and and these other disease states to explode.

I appreciate you being able to offer your thoughts on these disease States and obviously what your company is in the process of doing I want to broaden out a little bit because you talked about the state of Dermatology and that sort of way and I want to get your thoughts because it is a little bit of Jason but it’s something that we’ve obviously seen as this Rising consumerism in healthcare and kind of a broader renewed interest in skincare specifically and you know, those aren’t your typical Dermatology focused companies that people that are saying like hey we have this cream or we have this lotion or something that can help. What does that mean for you is when you’re really trying to wedge yourself in there you and your competitors to say. Hey, we’re gonna have non sterile options. We will have sterile options. These are FDA proof like going through that whole process, but then you’re you know fighting against brands that maybe on social media like, hey, we have this really, you know,

For lack of a better term Silver Bullet, you know cream or lotion or whatever that can treat your symptoms. How do you bounce against that because I feel like that’s a playing field that is inherently unfair because they don’t have to go through maybe nearly as many Hoops regulatory wise that you do.

Yeah, okay. Well, I’ll answer it a couple ways. I I think first off I think I’ll start at the 30,000 foot level, which is more the macros, I think.

I think when you look at

well, let’s look at the United States because of our approval or Derm event where we were operating with vitamins psoriasis. I think number one. The macros are people are living longer the age of the internet and digital Innovation


just the ability to reach more with a message of Education both disease state or or product related whether that’s an over-the-counter or that’s a prescription related item.

I think the level of education is high and that’s a good thing. Now, you could always complain that some of that education isn’t real or or it’s not substantiated with you know, with a reputable Source, but all in all there’s there’s just an awareness and I think that’s healthy for the patient overall. I think if we’re talking and it’s important to delineate as we go down the funnel if you’re delineating and you’re talking more medical you’re talking a real disease. It’s part of a Continuum. I think an educated patient. If you want to call them patient consumer is going to do some research. They’re going to talk to possibly their peers or people they respect and their friend Network and then they’re going to look for a healthcare professional either at the primary care level or the specialist level depending upon their range of commercial or or state provided insurance. And I think they’re good things. I mean to me

Especially for Derma van as a small single product Standalone player who’s playing in the large immunodermatology field with pure Innovation like vitama?

I think it’s great that we can reach a lot of people with the awareness of this non-steroidal option. Where in the day you only could really do it in the doctor’s office.

I I think today you have the ability to educate and you have the ability for patients to to know of all these choices. So I think it’s a it’s a double-edged sword. I think on one side you’re reaching the masses. I think secondly, there’s probably some products that are snake oil-ish that are going to sneak through the realm and not provide value But ultimately if people find their way to the physician,

I think dermatologist or some of the best doctors in the world. It’s one of the hardest residencies to match for in the United States. You know, whether it’s a Derm a PA or a nurse practitioner. They’re going to get the right treatment when they find their way. I think ultimately the biggest challenge is, you know, having enough practitioners and skin in the skin field to address all of the need we have in this country as people live longer. That’s been the biggest challenge we’ve been faced with as we go into 2024.

I can imagine so and it sounds like you’re it and I don’t want to put words in your mouth. But it sounds like you are skeptical of the idea that the misinformation that we have seen proliferate across the entire industry, but specifically in the Dermatology space is going to have that size that outsized impact because there has been so much of a push on the educational front and really trying to broaden the access points for patients.

Yeah, I mean, I I think I think with all the good there’s always going to be you know a yin and yang to the story. I I think when you you brought up earlier the aesthetic side where I spent a lot of time when I was leading galderma on the injectable and I was helping to lead CoolSculpting on the international marketplace when you look at the aesthetic world, it’s the same. I mean, you have a space that continues to grow. Yes. It’s sensitive to macroeconomics on the on the indicators of consumable or disposable income and spend my patients. But ultimately people are living longer. There’s more awareness of of your skin and your skin health and whether it’s the medical side for real disease or it’s the aesthetic side where just feeling good about yourself. There’s a lot out there for consumers or patients to look for and I think the majority of it’s good the key is getting to a point and getting to that practitioner and and really taking everything you’ve absorbed and then getting

Financial aided with you know, science-based medicine, you know, which is most important.

Absolutely, it’s always being able to have those reliable communicators of information which I know our audience being medical marketers are always playing a priority on Todd. It’s been really great having you on the show here being able to obviously see all the momentum that Derma vent has at its back and so much potential ahead of it. I wanted to throw the last question to you. You’ve been in charge of the company now through you know, you would refer to it earlier as one of the great catastrophes of our lifetime with covid with all these other sorts of volatility uncertainty. We’re obviously not in the same emergency state that we were four years ago, but there is still a lot out there that has caused, you know investors consumers to be apprehensive about where things go from here as the leader of a company that is trying to you know, make an impact in this space and obviously Healthcare being disrupted the way it was four years ago. What is your read on basically where things go from here in terms maybe the macro economic

challenges that you and the company are gonna have to navigate. I think it’s it’s a great question. I think look things are in my mind in a lot of States coming back to normal and I’m speaking specific Dermatology was unique in itself in that.

You know telemedicine played a big role to keep the volume of patients being touched through covid where offices were closed or there were limitations in the Hospital and Clinics setting. So I think Durham Durham got a little bit of a break because of the ability to use photos or AI or other technologies that were able to support through the pandemic, you know, I think right now it’s it really comes down to what I think we started with is

In order to be successful in 2024 and Beyond post-covid you need pure Innovation and what I mean by that is what we provide with to penneroff and vitama, which is a novel mechanism of action something that was built for Dermatology. And and I think it provides a unique offering as a non-steroidal whether 18 and above and psoriasis or eventually with FDA approval pending two years and above in atopic dermatitis and eczema. I think that’s what investors and Healthcare practitioners are looking for. They want to know that companies are bringing something Innovative not something that’s a combination of something older or something repurposed or an oral or an injectable that’s been repurposed and put in a put in a cream and used and called Innovative. I think they want to see something new and they want to see that comes with new mechanisms and new approaches to disease states that really in a lot of ways have not been fully answered.

Especially in immunodermatology. So that’s really the key to me is that if you’re looking at companies the question is what are the molecules?

What is the level of innovation true Innovation that this molecule provides and then obviously you have to look at the Managed Care setting in this country and you have to look at the intellectual property of that molecule that goes with it. And when you take the science with the access piece along with the intellectual property, that’s your three-legged stool to see is that really going to be a game changer for the longevity of what we believe is a great investment and I believe Dorma that fits all of that and that’s why I said yes, five and a half years ago for sure.

It’s interesting to hear you took bring up that point in terms of being able to have real Innovation, and I think that’s still a downstream effect that we’ve seen from the covid vaccines come out as people saying like hey if we can tackle these major challenges, what else can we do across a variety of disease stays Dermatology being no different. So it’s something we’ll certainly keep an eye out for I I wish you and your company the best of luck going forward certainly keeping an eye on what happens by the time May rolls around but really appreciate the time here

Todd now, I’ve truly enjoyed it. Thanks for all the great questions, and I look forward to meeting you again.

Legislation designed to reign in certain practices of pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs, in driving up drug costs is slowly moving forward in Congress.

Earlier in February, the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability voted to advance yet another PBM reform bill – called the Delinking Revenue from Unfair Gouging, or DRUG, Act.

The bipartisan bill was introduced by Republican Representative Mariannette Miller-Meeks, and would take aim at so-called “spread pricing,” a practice in which PBMs charge insurers more than what they pay pharmacies.

It would also ban PBMs from linking rebates to the list prices of drugs, and instead require them to provide a flat service fee – a policy known as “delinking.”

The move reflects the continued bipartisan support for legislation that targets PBMs, even as Congress continues to place the heat on the pharma industry. The Senate HELP committee recently held a hearing during which Sen. Bernie Sanders grilled the CEOs of J&J, Merck and Bristol Myers Squibb over high drug costs.

PBM lobbying groups such as the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association expressed opposition to the DRUG Act, and shifted the blame to pharma companies. The PCMA noted that QUOTE “Make no mistake, drug companies’ constant blaming of PBMs is designed to avoid accountability and further boost profits and pricing power.”

But TransparencyRx, a nonprofit coalition of PBMs that advocates for transparency in the industry, expressed support for the new bill.

Joe Shields, managing director of TransparencyRx, said in a statement that the DRUG Act is QUOTE “notable, as the bill takes concrete steps to ameliorate the burden of high list prices that big PBMs have shifted onto patients and plans. In a delinked or transparent approach, fees are disclosed, reliable and knowable.”

Shields added the organization continues to support legislative proposals that increase transparency and oversight of PBM practices. I’m Lecia Bushak, Senior Reporter at MM+M.

And this is the part of the broadcast when we welcome back Jack O’Brien to tell us what’s trending on healthcare social media.

Weeks after Neuralink implanted the first brain-computer chip into a human patient, Elon Musk said the patient has fully recovered and can control a computer mouse through thinking.

“Progress is good, and the patient seems to have made a full recovery, with no ill effects that we are aware of. Patient is able to move a mouse around the screen by just thinking,” Musk said in a Spaces event on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

He added that the company is trying to get as many mouse button clicks as possible from the patient.

I want to throw it over to you. There’s not a ton of details to go on but they seem at this point in time at least a little promising.

Yeah, definitely interesting to hear an update since you know, we we heard recently, I think it was a few weeks ago that Elon Musk officially announced that it had been implanted in the human for the first time this obviously comes after they were various safety concerns that we’re risen sort of in the last

Year to around knurling Reuters reported back in 2023 that the FDA had actually originally rejected neuralinks application to start human trials because of our idea of safety concerns including the devices lithium battery. Apparently the potential for the implants wires to migrate to other areas of the brain and sort of concerns over whether the device can be removed from the brain without damaging actual brain tissue. I believe they’re all so some concerns around some of them monkeys involved in some of the animal trials and safety around those as well. So obviously we kind of have a lot of these safety concerns that are floating around in the background. We don’t really know too many details as you mentioned.

About this this ongoing human trial, but hopefully it’s it’s looking up and hopefully we’ll see some benefits. I’m curious Mark what your take is on this?

Yeah. Thanks Lesha. And in addition to you know, all those safety concerns. There was a recent Reuters report that they got dings or find for violating US Department of Transportation rules regarding the movement of hazardous materials. So they continue to have these troubling issues. But you know, perhaps as you both alluded to one of the most troubling of all issues here is that most of the information on this, you know, first human implantation is coming through Elon musk’s tweets on X and you know, as I was reading there was a good nature report on this and they interviewed some new technology researchers and while they were holding out cautious.

Optimism for this first human trial they you know, which which is going to try to determine whether this implant is safe. Whether it’s effective at measuring brain signals there. They expressed a lot of frustration as well about that lack of detail information. Apparently the most of the information that’s public has been made available through a study brochure that invites people to participate the trial is not registered on clinical, which is of course the big online repository curated by the NIH and so that’s got researchers, you know, very uncomfortable and you know, then you look across at Rivals like synchron, which is in a neuralinks competitor. They reportedly are ramping up production of their device, which is more like a stent like device which is an inserted through the blood vessel. It’s not invasive and it’s

Been shown to help people with limited physical Mobility to operate technology, like smart home devices and cursors with their minds and musk has even you know as reportedly according to Bloomberg reporting zest a lot of questions about synchronous. I think he can use them as their main competitor and he has acknowledged that you know their way ahead. They recently acquired a minority stake and a German manufacturer. It’s gonna help them scale up the manufacturing they’ve been planted six patients in the US another foreign Australia. And and so they’ve got a ways to go before they are able to you know, convince Regulators to give approval but they’re way ahead one of the things that might it might come down to is that synchron’s device because it’s not inserted directly in brain tissue. Apparently, the quality of the brain signal is not as strong or is the neural link device is implanted directly into the brain tissue. So musk is promising that his is gonna have a better signal. So it’s interesting, you know when you talk about the you know competitive

Wants is of that space But we hope that you know, the New Orleans can stay clear of all the you know, the safety issues and then it will not get any further finds or be found in violation of anything else and we can see whether whether it’s what extent it’s implant actually works. Yeah.

We’re just so far into, you know Uncharted Territory that all you knew is keep your fingers crossed for the sake of the patient for the sake of this technology, but as Lesha documented and and you talked about two Mark is like there is this track record that is impossible to ignore given what is occurred and the person that’s the Helm of this project. So like I said fingers crossed and and we’ll see as it goes. Obviously. We’ll keep everyone posted here as we get more information.

Following the passing of his wife Melinda, Beach Boys legend Brian Wilson’s family has filed for a conservatorship, citing his suffering from a “major neurocognitive disorder (such as dementia).”

The family added in a press statement to People magazine that longtime Wilson family representatives LeeAnn Hard and Jean Sievers will serve as Brian’s co-conservators.

Wilson previously had an “Advance Health Care Directive” naming Melinda the “agent” for his healthcare, though she passed late last month at 77 and the family said he is no longer able to provide for his own personal needs.

Those familiar with Wilson’s biography will recall that mental illness has been a key factor in his rock and roll legacy.

Since the mid-1960s, he has dealt with auditory hallucinations and was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder and mild bipolar disorder. The pressure surrounding the follow up to the band’s iconic Pet Sounds, severe substance abuse and mismanagement of care under controversial psychologist Eugene Landy, derailed Wilson’s life for about 20 years.

my sister went saw him a couple years ago and he came to perform in Albany and she said obviously he’s a genius that’s always been the trademark with Brian Wilson phenomenal musician, but never got up to stand barely address the audience and that was only a few years ago. And you understand how you know, some of these symptoms can you know metastasize and and worse and as time goes on especially when it’s narrow cognitive. So it’s it’s unfortunate given a lifetime that you know for almost 50 60 years. He’s been dealing with these sort of challenges and it’s only grown into this less. I wanted to bring you in because obviously this is no secret that Brian Wilson has dealt with mental issues throughout his entire adult life.

Yeah. I mean, I think it’s, you know quite amazing actually that you know a musical Talent can create such a lot of creative output despite struggling with mental health issues throughout his entire life. So just want to throw that

There but one of the interesting aspects of this mental health story. Actually, I think is Eugene Landy as you mentioned Jack who was Wilson’s therapist.

He was largely credited for helping Wilson emerge from depression and substance abuse in the 1980s and sort of get back on the scene, but Landy also became known for sort of inserting himself into Wilson’s creative and financial work even becoming a record producer in business partner with him at the time which from the outside sort of looks like, you know, he was trying to take a piece of Wilson’s Fame. So it’s interesting that this therapist played such a huge role in Wilson’s life arguably both negative and positive ways. And you know, a therapist is supposed to be someone who’s an outside Observer of your of your life not trying to get you know, very involved to the level that land the appeared to be so I think that’s a pretty interesting piece of this, you know, especially as the mental health provider shortage, you know, we’re facing now with like Mental Health crisis where everyone is looking for a therapist, so it’s kind of an interesting aspect of that story

and to have the resources that he did at the time.

Looking for somebody that again it was around the clock, you know, I’m in a micromanage every aspect of your life. He had all the resources defined what you could say is quote unquote the best therapist in the world and still ran into a lot of the issues that we find in terms of trusting your provider access all that sort of stuff Mark wanted to bring you into this conversation too because I think it touches on a lot of things that we’ve all talked about. There’s obviously the dementia aspect too. You know, what sticks out to you from this story?

Yeah. Thanks Jack. I was struck also by a couple things, you know less sure. You just kind of made me kind of compare in my own minds the difference between Wilson’s trajectory, you know, if you want to call that and in terms of dealing with his neuro cognitive decline and that of Tony Bennett, you know, who we lost last July, you know, the pop and Jazz American Icon and you know, because you know, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s I believe in 2016, but he had a very slow.

Progression of his illness and he continued to record and torn perform until his retirement which says on Wikipedia is the final performance was in 2021 that Radio City Music Hall and he had all the performances with Lady Gaga and it was it was really amazing. I mean the 60 Minutes interview with him, you know, we all kind of Marvel that how he was able to recall, you know, the American Standards, you know, the American Songbook despite, you know not knowing, you know, sometimes having trouble recalling his own family members. So it is striking how you know performers are able to keep up the creative output. Even when they’re dealing with a neuro cognitive disorder like dementia and in Wilson’s case, you know in pretty Major Way.

You know on a much more, you know, boring note. It does kind of underscore the need. I know Wilson was 81 and he had an advanced directive but kind of the need for a living will you know, I’m not an attorney but it’s it’s a legal document that tells doctors how you want to be treated. If you can’t make your own decisions about emergency treatment. I know he had one, you know, and he named Melinda but I suppose it’s important, you know to have you know to revisit that throughout one’s life.

And just kind of the you know reminder that I’m getting into the age where I need to get get one of those in order. So maybe that’s how my mind

it could be there. And I think too that like the the idea of a conservatorship is obviously taking on such a controversial meaning in the past couple years, obviously with everything they happen with Britney Spears and Amanda Bynes and you can point out everything samples, but this is an instance where it does make so much sense. They have one in place because he obviously can’t you know do for himself and that was what Melinda was there for and was there for good 20 30 years of his life. But obviously you need to be able to have somebody that’s able to take care of you and look over you if you have the means and resources to do so, so obviously kind of an unfortunate development in a life that has been so troubled by different mental challenges, but it’s good to know. There is at least a structure in place to give him that organization going forward.

Joe Rogan is in the medical misinformation hot seat again, this time amid allegations of promoting AIDS denialism on his popular podcast.

In a recent interview with former professor of evolutionary biology-turned-podcaster Bret Weinstein, the two batted around some theories as to what causes HIV and AIDS. 

One theory that made headlines was the suggestion that the data linking the party drug “poppers” to AIDS is “surprisingly compelling.” 

In the course of the conversation, Weinstein referenced statistics supporting this theory found in independent presidential candidate and outspoken anti-vaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s 2021 book The Real Anthony Fauci.

The interview was widely criticized for platforming AIDS denialism theories, with a VICE article noting “there is no scientific debate whatsoever about the cause of AIDS, and the information Weinstein was repeating has been roundly discredited for decades.”

Oncologist David Gorski said the interview highlights the staying power of pseudoscience and anti-vaccine rhetoric across multiple disease states.

“Once you go down the rabbit hole of pseudoscience, quackery, and conspiracy theories in one area (e.g., #COVID19), it is nearly inevitable that you will embrace fractal wrongness in the form of multiple kinds of pseudoscience (e.g., antivax, AIDS denial, etc.),” he wrote online.

It’s so frustrating to me to see something like that where there is such established science and it does seem the article that Vice wrote about it futurism. There were other Publications forms that written about this that so much this always comes down to this such this freakishly weird Obsession that people in the anti-vax community have with Anthony fauci and I I’m gonna be the first one hands up. I’m not saying that you know, he was you know, this Lord and Savior that everyone made it out to be at the start of the pandemic but this idea that he is somehow an antichrist to the medical community as well or that he was out there trying to hurt people whether that was with covid or even extending this back to the Aids HIV argument is just so bizarre to me. That’s that seems to be what it really comes down to because you can’t look at any of the other evidence and say that poppers that you know plenty of I and I’m sure there are people in the audience. I know exactly I’m talking about playing my gay and bisexual friends are all too familiar with that that somehow causes this

epidemic this thing that is ravaged the community out. It’s it’s so insulting on such a on a base level but then to hear people are talking to an audience of millions each week and people are like, oh, yeah, do your own research or look into it. The evidence is compelling. It’s just it’s so insulting.

Yeah, just one note about Brett Weinstein, you know being a former professor of evolutionary biology doesn’t make you a medical expert or a doctor. So I just want to throw that out there but he’s also notorious for being part of this so-called intellectual dark web as a whole like I mean, he’s as you mentioned he was known as the ever-mectin guy during covid claiming that the antiparasitic drug was quotes a near-perfect covid prophylactic, even though there’s no medical evidence that supports that claim but I also want to point out that The Joe Rogan Experience was the most popular podcast of 2023 for the fourth year in a row. So, you know, even though people in our industry and the medical world may view Joe Rogan as this Vector of misinformation that these people are absolutely insane for making these claims a huge portion of the American population actually sees things very differently The View Joe Rogan and people like Brett Weinstein as being these sort of bearers of Truth.

Who challenged the mainstream whether that’s Anthony fauci the government or the main quote unquote mainstream media, so there’s a huge population in the US who view things like this and I think that’s important for marketers to understand and to consider as they think about ways to tackle Health misinformation which obviously continues to be a huge issue.

Yeah. It’s just like I don’t know how you can and I told we talk with marketers. So about all the time when they come in with these great intentions, they want to go through established institutionalized channels and it’s like that’s gonna be nothing when an episode of The Joe Rogan Experience with Robert F Kennedy Jr. Or Brett Weinstein or Jordan Peterson you name you know, your your cup of the week like they’re gonna come on there have information then say do your own research that’s gonna undo any campaign or ad or anything that you do there.

I think that’s so well spoken so well stated that, you know, it is really important consideration from marketers to keep in mind that and what makes you know people who pedal conspiracy theories so dangerous,

That it does come packaged, you know in you know, a package that appears to be factual and and rational and you know as Vice pointed out kind of like a fractional, you know, balkanization of the truth if you will and it makes it you know, it confuses the issue and and there and you know that in that confusion is where you know the seeds of Doubt lie and it’s kind of just like, you know blossoms from there if you will but you know, there’s an expression that I was like before the disease God creates the Cure and it’s it’s not no different in the pandemic of misinformation or pseudoscience or conspiracy theories anytime. There’s a big piece of misinformation. There’s often a countervailing and much more reliable voice inserting that much needed credibility. In this case. It’s ironic that we have someone named Brett Weinstein who is espousing these views because Michael Weinstein no relation as far as I know between the two

Has been such a wonderful proponent and Advocate, you know for those with the disease, of course Michael weinsteum in the president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. And whose goal is to you know, make sure people with the disease have, you know, the support of care that they need and you know advocating and in Washington on the policy front, but we don’t need to tell this audience, you know, the difference between cause and Association and that’s kind of where this argument boils down to just kind of seems I’m not a scientist but I can recognize pseudoscience. When ice when I hear and that sounds to me a lot like pseudo science, you know important distinction there and absolutely just invite people to you know, follow that out too. It’s logical conclusion and you’ll obviously come to the the rational one which is that you know, there’s no doubt that HIV is the causes

absolutely and it’s one of those things that again you talk about it where it’s like I think we’ve gotten a little too polite in society with entertaining bad ideas and you know Concepts that can have

Dangerous consequences if you go further down the logic tree, which not enough people are willing to embrace. So it’s it’s high time to be able to call those things out for what they are, which is pseudoscience quackery some other words. We can’t say on this podcast, but I think we can I think we can wrap it up there.

Absolutely. Thanks for joining us on this week’s episode of the imminent podcast. Be sure to listen to next week’s show and we’ll be joined by Lisa Leonard Pharma commercial voice actor and Jim Kennelly owner of lotus Productions.

That’s it for this week. The mmm podcast is produced by Bill Fitzpatrick Gordon failure, lesabusak and Jack O’Brien. Our theme music is by scissy and Son rate review and follow every episode wherever you listen to podcasts new episodes out every week and be sure to check out our website. Mmm, for the top news stories and farmer marketing.