With the 2024 J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference underway, MM+M’s Marc Iskowitz provides an update from on the ground in San Francisco. Digital Editor Jack O’Brien talks with Insilico Medicine’s chief business officer Michelle Chen about the company’s ongoing work to bring generative AI’s capabilities to the world of clinical research.
Senior Reporter Lecia Bushak talks about the Food and Drug Administration’s historic move to give Florida the ability to import medications from Canada at much lower prices than in the U.S.
Eli Lilly’s LillyDirect website launch marks a direct-to-consumer push for GLP-1 drugs like Zepbound, we dive into Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s controversial prostate cancer treatment saga and examine the brands and influencers toasting to Dry January. 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.
Read the full episode transcript here
Hey, it’s Jack…Marc is in San Francisco attending the 2024 J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, so I’m pinch-hitting as host on this week’s episode. But don’t worry, we’ll hear from Marc later in the show about how the annual powwow of healthcare’s movers and shakers is going.
In the meantime, we’re going to focus on generative AI in healthcare.
It’s no secret that over the past year, there has been a frothing interest and investment made by the industry in these innovations. Leaders of all kinds of healthcare organizations want to leverage AI and its ever-evolving technological capabilities for the benefit of the patients they serve in one way or another.
Following the mainstreaming of ChatGPT at the end of 2022, generative AI was the talk of the town in 2023. As we start 2024, the question on everybody’s lips is: where does generative AI go from here to level up from fad curiosity to practical healthcare tool?
Our guest this week is Michelle Chen, president of Insilico Medicine, who details the company’s ongoing work to bring generative AI’s capabilities to the world of clinical research and she also provides an update on their collaboration with Sanofi.
Today I’ll talk about the Food and Drug Administration’s historic move to give Florida the ability to import medications from Canada at much lower prices than in the U.S.
This week, we’re talking about Eli Lilly’s website LillyDirect, which allows patients to get a weight loss drug prescription through a telehealth provider, the latest update on the Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s prostate cancer treatment as well as a roundup of brands and influencers toasting to Dry January.
Michelle it’s a pleasure to have you on the show here want to get to a lot of different topics they’re going on at in silico wanted to really start off with one that I think has been kind of a major topic of conversation certainly your company but in the broader industry, which is the use of AI generative AI in the Life Sciences and farm around. Can you talk to me a little bit about what your company has been doing on that front? There’s been a lot of exciting developments over the year.
Thank you Jack. Thanks man opportunity. So in Silicon medicine is a leader in general a lead drug Discovery and development company. Well, I also a clinical Stage Company currently will have five Dwight candidates in clinical development overall our pipeline contains about 301 programs against 29 targets total spending disease areas such as oncology fibrosis inflammation and other areas.
Um, so we have a create this farmer AI platform, which is consists three big peelers biology 42 comes to 42 and a medicine for you to those can help us to dress keep bottlenecks. We’re seeing drug Discovery development including novel Target Discovery biomarker Discovery analysis for translational medicine the novel small molecule drug design using generative AI lasted but not least way to predict clinical trial success, which can help us in turn improve the clinical trial design and also help with the investment as was Business Development decisions.
So where Forefront in creating this very exciting field called ai-driven drug discovering development also known as aidd and high Department grid ecosystem.
I appreciate you giving the background there and I kind of want to drill into that because obviously we saw at the tail end of 2022 and certainly throughout 2023, you know, the public interest take off in terms of chat GPT and generative Ai and obviously Pharma like any other industry kind of leaned into that whether that was on the farm and Life Sciences side, or we saw in the medical marketing spaces as well, but you guys have been doing this for a number of years what from your perspective has really intrigued you in terms of seeing kind of this this mainstream popularity that generative AI has really enjoyed over the past year or so.
Yeah. Yeah, I I use red spot on Jack and there’s two movements while there’s a general AI excitement is also larger language a model building the greater charge GPT, right? We are certainly a full from the experimenting both for drug Discovery development. Our chemistry 42 platform is built on generative AI in fact with the first one to publish in our industry to utilize generative AI for small molecular drug design and that eventually to a paper in nature about technology. I believe in toka’s very small of time to be able to come up with this. I was really potential drugs and to prove that has both in Virtual as well in Vivo. Advocacy in animal models.
On the larger language building model, right recently. We have Incorporated chat function like chargbt into our AI tools such as pandemics as well as chemistry 42 and that will allow a users to chat with the systems such as pandemics. For example, what will be exciting targets to go after for psoriasis. You can type in those type of questions in intact with the system directly and within seconds the system will thing, you know, because Seconds come up with a speed of answers that highlights some the most Discovery and targets that didn’t think it might be relevant.
We even did side-by-side comparison the chat Panda GPT the version that we have which apply larger language model on our own Knowledge Graph and pandemics versus the general charge GPT utilized information come from overall internet and it turns out the answer we came up a much more relevant in for disease field versus a generic internet search. So chat GPT. So this also give a confidence as our user confidence and that you can make drug Discovery targeted Skyrim much more intuitive.
Then that just an example of that we plan to more like this find to other AI tools so that more people bars are using this into work on the field that we think it’s very exciting but extremely inefficient.
And obviously it’s it’s been a boon for your organization in terms of being able to have these discoveries come through. I know last year you would ink the deal with sanofi for the AI platform Farm AI. Can you talk about that deal and maybe how that’s progress since you sign that deal obviously sanofi putting a large amount of money behind the prospects that you and your organization have in AI very exciting there. But what has that been like
Yeah, excellent question. So so Novi as a global top farmer company, right? They are a strong believer in digital Health as well digital transformation. And if you listen to their CEOs talk and seeing the management discussion that there’s public forums and you can tell as a company they’re very much committed to AI able to drug Discovery and we are one of the key leaders in this space. So, you know, hopefully one plus you call, you know, two square, right and as in that sense, so the agreement within is obviously our major collaboration with the global farmer company and those kind of agreement they’ll pay us out front payment is 21.5 million dollars up front and this is public information and that allow them to leverage our into Informer AI platform and also,
Access to team of interdisciplinary showing drug Discovery scientists will help them with identify synthesized and Advance those drug candidates in cartilage in current agreement or looking about six targets, right?
On top of the initial up from payment, you’ll be additional payments may follow for the potential research development Regulatory and sales milestone for more than 1.2 billion dollars, right and on top that it will be up to double digit tier based royalties should attracts become, you know, a successful market. So this is truly exciting transforming deal bringing silicone medicine and how about to really move out of value chain? And as you can imagine in an early arm and silicon medicine formation where we’re just very small, you know, early stage startup company focus on software development over time. We start doing our pipeline develop capability to utilize AI start doing drug Discovery development and this deal really
Help us to simplify the symbolize the the mobile value chain and also our business model, right?
Yeah, absolutely and I kind of want to add a follow-up question there too. In terms of the work that you’ve done with Microsoft bio GPT if you explain that for our audience too, because I’m sure they’re really familiar with the snow fee deal. But that one was something in my research for this conversation that really stuck out to me in terms of using that for a I believe it was for aging and disease if I’m correct, right?
Yeah. We have being that aging and disease for quite a long time others ever funder CEO Alexander passionate about the health span. How can we label a long lives and well healthy right and now saying being sick and for the last thing 23 years and when that would not be fun, so we have in corporate a lot of larger language of a model in our farmer AI tools software tools.
Vibration with Microsoft or in Amazon those kind of technology and videos another big Tech collaborators. We have working with him for the years. We really might enhance our technology platform make sure this robust and also up to date to the most recent Technologies. And that was certainly help us to stay being full form of this very exciting and also tremely competitive field.
Absolutely and and while we’re we’ve been talking a little bit about the generative AI space and everything that’s going on there. I want to Pivot the conversation a bit to X Alexis if you can form our audience about that deal that you struck with them back in the fall of 2023 and what that entails for your organization going forward.
Excellent question Jack the deal with X Lexus deal is I’m a first acid outlicensing deal for in silicone medicine and it was announcing September this year. So let’s give a fresh.
What as part of that deal would act less is God from us is a global license to a very exciting. We’re considerably Best in Class small molecule against us P1 USB one for those of you who may not in expert in the field. It has merge as a very promising synthetic lethal Target for oncology. Basically thality means that you can knock out the one target one gene the South still okay, but the companies would knock out both a plus b that could be lethal for the tumor cells. So imagine going after us P1 in the black mutant tumors that is will expect to see a tumor killing at least demonstrated now with Vivo animal models.
So this deal is very exciting for us, you know as to you know, we we are in many ways acting like about tech companies. We have a rich Pipeline and this is the first deal and simplifies. The business model is working as part of deal X Lexus. We have a global rights and exclusive rights access to compound and what public is announced that it will pay us 80 million dollars up front followed by significant Milestone payments covered the development regulatory commercial as well as a tear royalty in that cells and currently the programs in Phase One in development. And the teams are working very very close together trying to deliver this for promising drug candidates and two patients. Hopefully we can be good meaningful impact in those patients’ lives.
It’s very exciting certainly for excellence and for in silicone. I’m curious because you mentioned as the first
I said deal. The company has made if that’s something that maybe you’re looking to lean more into whether it’s in 24 in the years to come.
I solely spot out. We are looking for additional Partners in assets licensing site. In fact I said there are 31 programs in our pipeline. Majority of them will want to find the home for them because in silico medicine strength is really in the discovery site, right Discovery early stage molecules. And with the power for help with the AI in the very much we can take all the programs all the way to ID approval but you’ll be great if we can work with a normal mature about farmer companies or Global Farm Company to help us with the clinical development and Regulatory approval and ultimately the commercial development and selling of those drugs really become very successful. So we expect to see more asset license deal to happen in the coming months in the Years, you know, this is also a good point to Black and our business model, right our business model has three key components one.
The Malik Bowtique business model finding licensing partner where they can take over on a development as well the commercial so that’s the acid licensing piece. The second piece is Jack the example. You just eluted our deal with sanofi. We call the Strategic partnership piece where we became become their external R&D using our tools expertise to create early stage draw candies that for their pipeline.
The third model we is called the AI software licensing. We do have some tools for ai’s could be available such as pandemics chemsu 42 and in clinical and people can just go ahead and license those software just like Microsoft 365 and it can play with it, you know play with it in your own sandbox and create their own pipeline. We the reason we are for all those three business models of three business scenarios for potential partnership is really maximize the in Impact we have in the field but also create a community ecosystem because ultimately we want to make sure that AI is not just bringing silicon medicine for the whole Community to use.
It’s interesting to hear that from a business operation standpoint. But then also talking about you know, what your end goal is to it’s not just for your own company’s benefit but really for the industry kind of a high tide result boats sort of approach if you will I
Add one more question for you Michelle because I’ve really appreciate you being on the show and obviously detailing something that’s been of a real Keen interest to our audience as it relates to generative Ai and advances in its space. But I know that you had recent news as well with a first and human study for an IBD treatment if you could walk us through that too. I think that’d be interesting for our audience.
Yeah, the the IBD
have first in class novel smile molecular against PhD one and two and what exciting thing about this molecule is that it has dual mechanisms of action and on one hand. He has anti-inflamp Tory effect from the bow. I mean as you imagine by this name IBD sensory family about disease lesson, there’s a lot of inflammation go young the gut, right? So it has the anti-inflammatory factor for a care drugs on the other hand. It has a Noble magazine action that is also in love got repairing. Okay, so we are testing this molecule currently in healthy volunteers, but out in very very interesting test molecules so and to to test the Mexicans action in the human to and comparative data, we have generating
Models and this is a program where very excited and I think they offer potential a novel approach to treat IBD patients and it may have the potential to be combined with other standard of care too. And this is program. We also very active looking for our partnership who can help us continue Drive the development of further down the road.
Well, I know something that will definitely be paying attention to it sounds very promising and that sort of Realm obviously, there’s been a lot of interest and investment in the IBD space in the past year or so. So something to keep an eye on but Michelle really appreciates you again being able to offer these insights on something that’s been so top of mind not only for our audience but for the broader general public as well and certainly wish you and silico the best going forward with these Partnerships and different developments you have going on
right? Thank you. Thanks check and without opportunity.
Hey, it’s Mark coming to with my recap of day one highlights from the JP Morgan Healthcare conference and San Francisco. I’m recording this at the tail end of an artificial extended day. I fle.
Hear from New York this morning and didn’t get to the conference until 3pm or so, but that was just in time to see The Standing Room crowd gathered to watch Pfizer CEO all but borla’s fireside chat followed by a company presentations by modern and Mark and those three as it turns out chair to come theme which I’ll call renewal or advisor’s case turning the page after a bad year.
After grossly overestimating its covid product Revenue father’s forced to cut its Revenue guidance twice last year, but birla didn’t mince words. He acknowledged that the firm Mist internal projections. It’s trade expectations and also didn’t impress very much with the commercial performance of the rest of its products.
The Pharma companies Fall From Grace With all the more painful. He said considering and I quote we used to be these stars of the industry for a few years to hear the CEO acknowledged that hurt was kind of stunning. Meanwhile a fellow coronavirus shot maker moderna was intent on moving past the pandemic too CFO Jamie MOX spent much of his time arguing that modern is at mRNA platform company with capacity far beyond covid the firm. He said expects to incur losses over the next two years, but it’s made good progress and diversity diversifying the late stage pipeline Merck CEO Rob Davis also spoke of shedding an older image from Keith trude in Gardasil to new product launches and what he called one of the broadest deepest pipelines, you’ve had in years management voice strong enthusiasm for the upcoming launches of satatarcept in pah as well as v116 a vaccine for a new Macau disease the company also upgraded long-term guidance for us oncology and cardio metabolic franchises as Eminem reported this morning the conference kicked off of the flurry of deals including another one in a long string of collaborations that see form a venturing into the hot antibody and Joe conjugate space for cancer.
So despite the deal-making downturn last year. It seems as though Blue Chip companies have gone shopping once more buying or partnering with those mid-market companies and carrying December’s flurry of deals into the new year, which is good news for those in the m&a space. Thanks for listening. Be sure to check. Mmm hyphen online from my day one recap as well as more dispatches to come from JPM.
Health policy update with Lecia Bushak.
Last week, the FDA made a historic move toward drug pricing reform by approving Florida’s ability to import low cost medications from Canada.
Florida will become the first state to buy drugs in bulk for Medicaid programs from Canada, and it may save up to $150 million just in the first year of the initiative.
Because Canada, like many other countries, can negotiate directly with drugmakers to set a lower cost for medications – prescription drugs are cheaper there as a whole.
The pharma industry immediately expressed opposition to the move, with lobbying group PhRMA noting in a statement that the FDA’s decision was quote “reckless” and that QUOTE “the importation of unapproved medicines, whether from Canada or elsewhere in the world, poses a serious danger to public health.”
Several more states have applied to the FDA to be able to import Canadian medication themselves. FDA commissioner Dr. Robert Califf said the agency would be heavily vetting those applications to make sure they QUOTE “demonstrate the programs would result in significant cost savings to consumers without adding risk of exposure to unsafe or ineffective drugs.”
While the move is a significant one, some health policy experts expressed concern that allowing Canadian drug imports wouldn’t necessarily address the root cause of high drug prices in the U.S. – the lack of a federal program that would directly negotiate the cost of most drugs, a system that’s in place in many other countries.
Plus, plenty of hurdles remain, especially as drugmakers seek to prevent Canadian drugs from making it across the border, and sign agreements with wholesalers to prevent exports. Canadian drugs that are in short supply may also be limited.
In the last year, the Biden administration has touted several of its efforts to put drug pricing policy in place to lower costs – including implementing the start of Medicare negotiations and introducing new guidelines for the use of “march-in rights” – all in preparation for the election year. I’m Lecia Bushak, Senior Reporter at MM+M.
And this is the part of the broadcast when we welcome Jack O’Brien to tell us what’s trending on healthcare social media. Wait, that’s me!
Now, we’ll take it down to a little place called Healthcare Trends, starting off with Eli Lilly’s new website: LillyDirect.
The website will allow patients to get a weight loss drug prescription through a telehealth provider — a move the pharma giant hopes will improve access to its obesity drug, Zepbound.
Listeners will recall that in early November, the Food and Drug Administration greenlit Lilly’s tirzepatide for treating obesity. Originally known as Mounjaro for treating type 2 diabetes, Zepbound represented a an expected, but major step forward for the American drugmaker as it competes with Novo Nordisk in the increasingly lucrative GLP-1 drug space.
With regulatory approval for an expanded indication, Lilly is augmenting its operations and marketing going forward and LillyDirect is a prime example of that. This comes as weight loss companies like WeightWatchers and Ro have recently rolled out digital programs to receive GLP-1 treatments.
Of note, Lilly CEO David Ricks said Zepbound reached 25,000 new prescriptions per week by the end of December. He added that demand may lead to shortages in 2024, but that the company was “working hard to fulfill demand.”
I have to think that Novo is probably gonna do that, you know at some point in the future in these other drug makers that are jumping into the space kind of have a Playbook written out for them.
I think to your point. This is a trend that will probably see grow further this year. And as you mentioned at the end, you know, there’s such high demand for these drugs. We will also simultaneously probably continue to see shortages and issues with Supply. I know Nova Nordisk has had issues with shortages in 2023. So we’ll probably expect to see that continuous well, but I think there’s also kind of this kind of points to a larger push in the healthcare industry as a whole where a lot of other companies I think are trying to get involved in this glp-1 space, even if they’re not manufacturers of these drugs, but they’re trying to design programs that say we can help you know with your weight loss income that’s complementary to you being on these GOP one drugs and I think it’s just kind of a gonna be like an industry-wide push in this direction where weight loss is going to be very much based around GOP ones.
And then all of the complementary things you can do in addition to your goal P1 regimen whether that’s like mental health support or exercise diet things like that. I think we’re going to see an increase push in that direction in the industry as a whole
and it is interesting too you talk about kind of like healthcare organizations of all different types meeting consumers where they are. I think that there was this brick and mortar idea of healthcare before the pandemic of you have to go to your doctor. You have to go to the hospital or X Y and Z to get care. Now a lot of these organizations are like, you know, we’re gonna meet you whether it’s on your laptop on your phone whatever like if you’re interested in having a in getting a glp one prescription and that is an addition to what you talk about with diet or exercise. They now have a way that you can do that instead of like I have to make an appointment to go the doctor I have to again touch or whatever. It does make it easier,
right? Imagine really direct one of its goals is kind of to make sure everything is in one place so that it is easier for patience and more convenient for patients to be able to access those drugs and any other kind of additional care they need
Relation to that.
I wonder how much of this is a response to some of the counterfeit stuff that we’ve seen in recent weeks where we’ve seen like these drug makers suing spas and Clinics. They have knock-off brands or you know things that are a danger consumer is to your point about trying to centralize it’s like, you know, you can come here and you know that you are getting the exact product that you are after instead of going to some black market or third party that could endanger
right? I think the high drug or the high cost of some of these drugs is what’s been driving a lot of people to seek these like kind of unapproved Alternatives these sketchy Alternatives and I think to your point this probably is, you know, partially response to that because it’s looking to make I believe there’s a comment in here about helping patients save money on some of these drugs through Lily direct and just making a lot more convenient a lot more accessible with the promise of helping out a little bit with some savings trying to kind of draw people more towards Eli Lily comp.
To these other sketchy Alternatives that will continue to pop up as the demand remains High. I
think you can never get rid of the black market entirely but to your point about the cost aspect. They also know that they have Bernie Sanders and the help committee looming over them for when it comes to Diabetes Care. So definitely something they’ll be interesting to follow going forward.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was diagnosed with prostate cancer, officials at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center announced Tuesday afternoon.
Previously a mystery that had recently confounded the D.C. established, Austin has been in the hospital since New Year’s Day and the White House didn’t know until a few days ago.
Just before we stepped into record this pod, officials released a statement saying that a routine health screening Austin underwent early last month detected prostate cancer.
Austin had an elective medical procedure on December 22, went home a day later and was admitted to the intensive care unit at Walter Reed via ambulance on January 1 when he began experiencing severe pain. The officials’ statement said that was due to a urinary tract infection.
Last Friday, the Pentagon announced that he had been in the hospital since New Year’s Day, which caught the agency’s press corps, national security establishment and White House off-guard.
Austin is still recovering and receiving care, with officials saying that since his cancer was detected early, his prognosis is “excellent.”
What the path forward looks like remains unclear.
On Monday, Austin’s chief of staff ordered a 30-day investigation into the events surrounding his hospitalization.
Earlier this week, Politico reported that President Joe Biden is not considering firing Austin and one official noted that the president would not accept a resignation if Austin were to offer one.
Still, reports emerged that Biden’s chief of staff Jeff Zients sent a policy review to cabinet members, so things are clearly heating up on that front.
I guess you could say
there is also the question too of whether or not and they say it in the statement that he was never under general anesthesia and that he was never unconscious that has been some debate in media reports about whether he transferred power whether the White House didn’t know about his status that is all up in the air. So politics aside less. I want to bring you into the conversation and just what you make of all this it’s really been a number back and forth over the past couple days.
Yeah, I’ll touch on the political implications in a second, but I want to just draw everyone’s attention to the statement that was literally just released about a half hour ago from Walter Reed National military Medical Center officials on Austin’s condition because as you said there was a lot of murkiness around seeing the ICU is he unconscious like what’s going on and in the statement, they said that he had a urinary urinary tract infection and then on January 2nd, the decision was made to transfer him to the ICU for close monitoring and a higher level.
Care further evaluation revealed abdominal fluid collections impairing the function of his small intestines this resulted in the backup of his intestinal contents, which was treated by placing a tube through his nose to drain his stomach.
just sounds are just interrupts you for a second just sounds awful.
Yeah, um, he has progressed steadily throughout his stay. His infection has cleared he continues to make progress and we anticipate a full recovery. Although this can be a slow process. And then I also thought I was interesting that in the statement. They also kind of put in paragraph of prostate cancer awareness saying it’s the most common cause of cancer among American men. It impacts One in Every Man and one in every six African-American men during their lifetime and kind of urge people to do early screening as you mentioned. So those are the most details that we have right now based on that statement that just came out.
So it appears it’s still a bit unclear what the the issue is, but it appears he must still be in the ICU. Hopefully, he’s on the road to recovery. But in terms of the political implications of this already kind of created a huge Splash today Republicans are clamoring using this to kind of question Biden’s competence. So when it comes to National Security as a whole and foreign policy as a whole they’ve been asking questions like well, you know, what happens with all these serious Foreign Wars that are happening right now if you’re
Secretary of Defense his in the ICU and and not reachable and I think it’s important to note that you know, we’re obviously leading up to the elections this year. And this is probably going to be brought up in some of the talking points in the election. So kind of interesting that what started out as an elective medical procedure has grown into something that will be a huge Splash in the election sphere
and it does kind of remind me a little bit of 2016 in the sense where Hillary’s health status was always brought up. I remember the month before month or two before the election when she had pneumonia and she had fainted or was unwell when she went to the 9/11 Memorial New York that became a major talking point and to your point. It’s not only about
Uh secretary Austin which obviously again we’re wishing him nothing but the best going forward. It does speak to a question of judgment, which I think both Republicans and I even think some Democrats are going to make an issue about going forward. We are also looking at a general election where the two top candidates are both going to be over the age of 77.
By the time that they get on the ballot in November and one of them is gonna be over the age of 80 and health is obviously Ben a concern for many years with an aging population the silver tsunami all that sort of stuff that you talk about. This is only going to add to it where again you talk about an elected procedure something that I think a lot of people are.
Consider routine has turned into a month-long plus debacle. That is rattled Washington DC.
Yeah. I mean, I think the in the political Arena health issues and even small medical procedures are often seen as like a sign of weakness and they’re kind of used against candidates in different ways. I mean President Biden’s like mental capacity and questions about Dementia or things like that have often been brought up to attack him people have done the same for Trump and sort of his aging trajectory and his diet for example, and his health has been brought into question multiple times. So it’s interesting to see Health kind of used as like a tool campaign tool in a way to attack different candidates. We’ll be watching these older candidates campaigning this year and we’ll see how how health plays a role in that
and just to put a bow on it because you talk about it being used as almost kind of like a stigmatization.
Backed for being able to smear one side or the other as relates to this. I will be interested to see and I’m sure that our inboxes are gonna get filled up within the next few days. Imagine other health reporters will be too with prostate cancer awareness organizations saying like hey, this is a renewed focus on like you said a very common form of cancer in the United States, especially for men. I’ll be interested to see if there’s more campaigns or initiatives or work that comes out that that could be Silver Lining and all this again that glad that he obviously has a good prognosis. But if they’re gonna be organizations saying like hey, this is renewed attention. We need more research funding and all that sort of stuff. So definitely something to keep an eye on going forward.
As New Year’s resolutions take off, a significant chunk of Americans will attempt to either cut down their alcohol intake or stop drinking entirely. Commonly known as “Dry January,” some people use the first month of the year to participate in a trend of avoiding alcohol consumption.
Influencers and brands across social media are talking about the health benefits of Dry January — as well as a newer trend called ‘Damp January.’
It’s important to note that the trend is meant for moderate drinkers – but not people who have alcohol use disorder or alcohol addiction, as going cold turkey without medical assistance can be dangerous in those situations.
Dry January advocates point to some key benefits that come with abstaining from alcohol for a month, including improved sleep, energy, focus and skin health. Additionally – over time – some people experience fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Psychiatrist Daniel Amen – who has 2.5 million followers on TikTok – has discussed the negative impact of alcohol on mental health as a reason to give Dry January a try.
[Byte 0:00 – 0:32] AMEN: Dry January, for many of you, I’m so proud of you. Alcohol is no benefit to you, it lies to you, it gives you a short-term benefit where you forget your problems and then they come back. So rather than dealing with them, you drug them. People who watch my channel know how I feel about alcohol – as a psychiatrist it’s responsible for a very high percentage of reasons why people come to see me.]
Still, for people who may not want to go entirely alcohol free, fear not – there are other trends that might fit better with their New Year’s goals.
One recent TikTok trend, the “One Week No Booze” method, involves going sober for one week at a time to cut down on weekly drinks.
Cheekily called “Damp January,” another trend involves reducing overall alcohol intake to a much healthier amount – as opposed to cutting it out entirely. Damp January offers a more balanced approach to people who still like to imbibe every so often, such as during social occasions.
Damp January advocates say it gives them some more leeway to have a couple drinks here and there, especially at inevitable events like birthdays or celebrations.
Absolutely and you know, you’re talking to somebody’s last name is O’Brien. So I’m familiar with the the effects of alcohol and I’ve been known to have a drink or two. I’ve never done dry January. I do know people whether in my own life or we have some coworkers around here that have either done dry January or sober October. I think it’s always interesting anytime. You can make like a month long event out of it and to your point, you know, there’s even somebody that does like to have a drink every now and then
You know alcohol doesn’t always have positives to it is is you know gonna have an impact on your body and a negative way and it’s always interesting to hear people talk about it whether or not they stick with it long term. I always think it’s interesting when some people are like, you know, I I’m off the sauce and I’m not going back to it. But even for other people where it’s like, oh, I didn’t drink it for a couple weeks in my sleep improved or my skin cleared up or whatever. You know, those are things that yeah, once you remove that from the equation and you’re more hydrated, you’re more rested all that sort of stuff. It has to make up a positive impact. I imagine so always interesting to see these Brands kind of step out there. You would highlighted the the chief medical correspondent for a Good Morning America. I always love a pun when it’s dry January kind of making it her own thing too. So yeah, I’ll be it’ll be fun to guys see how this takes off and I know there’s always different ones. Like I said, I know sober October is there people pick their different times the months time to do that. So it’s not dry January. I know a lot of people try and do it to coincide with coming off the holidays. There’s always opportunities throughout the year.
Thanks for joining us on this week’s episode of the MM+M Podcast. Be sure to listen to next week’s episode when we’ll be joined in the studio by Robert C. Garrett, CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health and chair of the World Economic Forum Health & Healthcare Governors Community, to preview the annual gathering of political and business leaders in Davos.