Despite new FDA guidance lifting restrictions specific to gay/bisexual men donating blood, Jason Cianciotto of Gay Men’s Health Crisis says public health messaging doesn’t match practice. Jack O’Brien also interviews OUTBio’s Ramsey Johnson on the role biopharma can play in supporting the LGBTQ+ community at work. And Elon Musk-backed Neuralink’s move to human experimentation tops our Trends segment, along with items on Steven Tyler’s vocal chords and TikTok’s free-bleeding trend.

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…

This past May, the Food and Drug Administration OK’d a move long anticipated by public health experts and gay rights activists.

The agency dropped all restrictions specific to gay and bisexual men donating blood.

The new guidance doesn’t restrict donations based on someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Instead FDA said it will move toward an “individual risk-based” approach to reduce the risk of accidental HIV infection through the blood donation system.

That means the blood donation risk assessment will be the same for every donor regardless of how they identify. 

It also ends the three-month automatic deferral for any sexually active, gay, bisexual, or other men who have sex with men.

While it’s a move advocates have long argued for,  adoption of the non-binding guidance among blood donation centers has been slow – and public health messaging does not match practice.

My colleague Jack O’Brien interviews Jason Cianciotto, VP of communications and policy at the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, about the finalized guidance, and why GHMC – which has been calling for FDA to change its blood donation guidance since 2010 – considers the ban still in effect. 

Lecia is on assignment at Digital Pharma East this week, so we’ve got an LGBTQ+  tw-fer for you today.

Jack also speaks with Ramsey Johnson – Founder and president of the group OUTBio – a Boston-based professional networking group – about the role pharma and biotech play in terms of supporting the LGBTQ community and where there’s room for improvement.

This week, we’re talking about Steven Tyler’s vocal chords, TikTok’s free-bleeding trend and Elon Musk’s defense of Neuralink’s brain implant strategy with dying monkeys.

Hello, and welcome to the mmm podcast. My name is Jack O’Brien. I’m the digital editor at mmm. I’m pleased to be joined today by Jason CNC auto. The vice president of communications and policy at the Gay Men’s Health crisis. Jason, how are you doing today? I’m doing well Jack. Thanks so much for having me. I appreciate you being on the show. And this is kind of a interesting topic that we probably haven’t really talked about at length on the podcast, as it relates to the changes that we’ve seen related to Blood Donor rules and restrictions by the FDA. I want to start there on a baseline. Just if you can kind of give us a high level overview of what changes we’ve seen in recent months, as it relates to expanding eligibility, on that front check. In

May, I believe on May 1st, FTA guidance was finalized that got rid of the three-month, automatic deferral for any sexually, active gay, bisexual or other.

Men who have sex with men refer to as MSM.

And they replaced it with a policy that gmhc has been calling for since 2010. So over 13 years ago, they are suggesting to blood donation centers, and that suggestion that non-binding guidance is something really important for us to come back to that, they replace the donor history questionnaire. Which currently asks have, you had sex with another man in the past three months and if the answer is, yes, you can donate. In other words, you have to have been celibate for three months in order to donate blood. And instead are going to be asking a series of questions that assess certain behaviors that can lead to a higher risk of exposure to HIV and the questions are gender neutral. In a sense, the same guidelines that potential restrictions

pi to the individual donor regardless of their gender and

you know, that’s really good news.

That those changes have been made but as a so often the case, the devil is in the details and there are still a lot of problems.

I’m curious about that point if you could extrapolate on that because I know that when the guidance came out, a lot of people, obviously applauded it as long overdue and pointed to, you know, some of the the myths that have surrounded, the HIV and AIDS crisis since the 80s. But they also see that there’s room for improvement. Where do you see room for improvement on that front?

Well, you know, if you read if you read the headlines, including quotes from some, you know, large National lgbtq nonprofits, like glad you’d think that the ban has been completely lifted and all the wrongs have been righted and now you know, the majority of gay bisexual sex with men can just go into a blood center, donate blood and everything is fine, and that’s not true. So I mentioned earlier, that the FDA guidance is non-binding. In other words, a blood donation center could choose whether or not to opt in to this.

You guidance and you know since we’re now recording this in towards the middle of August and this guidance first came out on May 1st and a lot of those articles espousing that the band had been lifted came out on the same day, the FDA did some, some really impressive media outreach and marketing and messaging on that day.

It wouldn’t surprise me if they have already been folks who’ve gone into their local blood center thinking they could donate and been told no. And in fact, it’s only recent that for example in the state of North Carolina, the American Red Cross their announced that they had implemented the policy but in New York City where gmhc is located the blood donation centers there have not yet implemented the policy and they have not said when that is going to happen. And so here we have a situation where, or one of the situations where messaging does not match practice and where people could get the wrong impression that they could donate. When in fact, they can’t and may not be able to ever despite this policy. If their local blood donation center chooses

not to implemented. I appreciate you bringing up that point because I also live in New York and I’ve donated blood

Sense, the guidance came out, obviously, that doesn’t apply to me. I’m a CIS straight man, but I did notice when I was filling out my questionnaire at a blood center, that is not the American Red Cross, that that wasn’t included there. And I thought it was interesting. You highlighting that point, that it is ultimately up to the place that you donate to to decide whether or not they want to opt into that policy. That’s correct. But Jack, even though your system straight, the policy

actually could apply to you because eventually in New York City, when when the new guidelines are implemented, you’ll be asked if you have had anal sex with more than one partner or a new partner in the past three months, and if you respond yes, to that question. Then you will be deferred for three months, regardless of your sexual education, gender identity. And regardless of that of your sexual partners,

And I imagine a lot of people probably don’t look at that as what they view, as equality in that sense. Because then it’s saying, oh, this is something that was only applied to this one group. And now it’s being applied to a larger group and maybe they’re almost getting a sense of, oh, this is how it’s been for so long for this community. We don’t like this, you know, how does that play out? Do you think at the long term?

Well, I think that there’s a lot of stigma and shame around sex and sexuality, and gender in the United States, regardless of who you are, or who you’re having sex with. And I think having anal, sex could be included in that, right? And so, whereas gay environment who are aware of the policy or have tried to donate in the past know that they were going to be asked these questions, heterosexual, pit folks have not had to be in a situation where they are individual sexual behaviors a, number of sexual partners have been

Included as a screening tool for something as meaningful and intimate as donating blood. And I imagine that that my comment as a surprise to them, and I think you’re right it perhaps provides people who’ve

Thought they’ve never had to deal with that kind of scrutiny donating blood to actually have to consider it. And, you know, that that stigma and shame is such an important part of why

gmhc, which was founded as gay men’s Health crisis in 1982, the world’s first HIV unique Services organization. It’s why we’ve been fighting this FDA policy because one of the drivers of the HIV of when the things that continues to provide a context for new transmission of HIV. Is that stigma and shame? Because it causes people to hide who they are and what they do with causes them to not talk about their sexual behavior and their sexual health in general. And and those kinds of things may end up leading people to make decisions about their behavior. That doesn’t make protecting themselves from HIV and STIs front and center. And I was wondering if you could expand on that front because like

we mentioned earlier in the conversation, this is been a policy. It’s been in place for decades at this point. Can you speak to that kind of negative impact on the lgbtq Ia Community as a relates to not being

Able to, you know, contribute in a meaningful way. I know there are plenty of people that consider themselves gay or bisexual that, you know, aren’t allowed to donate blood and that can be, you know, embarrassing and like you said stigmatizing,

Sure. Well, I can if it’s okay tell you a very personal story about the impact that it has

We’re gonna go back a number of decades to when I was in high school and my high school, like so many other schools and colleges and universities around the country was having a annual blood drive. And I wanted to participate I, you know, I wanted to not just be a part of school spirit but but be a part of that. Very selfless and life-saving gift that that drives people to donate, right? You you’re giving literally a part of yourself that will go to someone that you will never know and could potentially save their life. And at that time, I was closeted, I was living with my mother and stepfather who are fundamentalists Christians. I was raised from you know two years old and that environment where it was very clear.

That quote unquote. Homosexuality was a sin and where I was told literally that, you know, choosing to be gay means that you will live a life of loneliness and isolation and that you will eventually get AIDS and die.

And so you know, imagine how shocked I was as a teenager when I sat down and the person who was facilitating the donor, history questionnaire asked me. If I had, you know, had sex with another man since 1970 8, I’m forgetting the exact date that the original question was, but it was around that time.

Um because I wasn’t expecting it and because I was so afraid of people knowing about me and I was so afraid of rejection from my family from God, from my religion. And, you know, if there was a camera, I’m sure it would have seen my, my job. How did this person know? Why were they asking me this question? Did they think that I was gay just by looking at me?

And that experience is, what?

Countless other gay and bisexual men and have have also experienced throughout this time period because it singled out someone’s identity. As somehow being inherently more diseased.

Right? That that somehow being gay meant that I was a danger to others.

That I was a danger to the blood supply even though at that time I hadn’t had participated in sexual behavior that would have exposed me to HIV and you know, over the years while the FDA touted its progress by, you know, when it dropped in 2015 to 12 months and set of Life Time and the word if you had had sex with another man the past 12 months, you couldn’t donate, then during the height of the Opera of the covid pandemic. Magically the FDA just chocolate to three months without making any announcement without having any hearing because surprise there was a very high need for blood so suddenly they thought it was okay to lower the restrictions to use gay blood

even now, under the new policy,

It’s still singles out.

Anal sex over other forms of sex like vaginal sex which can also lead to transmission of HIV though, at admittedly, a much lower rate. And it’s even even this sort of notion of oh we’re making this gender neutral. Well look, I’m no expert on the proclivity of anal sex among heterosexual identified people, but let’s be real. If you’re singling out anal, sex you’re really primarily affecting gay and bi sexual men.

It. And

That carries forth that stigma.

But there are other ways, too. Like, for example, what, what has been hidden in all of these positive news articles is these other restrictions that undermine cornerstones of the cdc’s HIV prevention messaging over the past 40 years because even if you used a condom religiously while having anal sex, you still can’t donate. Even if you are on pre-exposure prophylaxis or prep, which is a medication that when taken as prescribed is very highly effective over 90% effective at preventing HIV infection if exposed to the virus, you can’t donate. In fact, if you’re on prep as a pill, you can donate for three months since the last pill that you took.

And if you are using the new injectable prep, you can’t donate for 12 months post. The last injection that you received and people who are taking prep, they are getting more comprehensive routine. Medical care, then most other people gay or straight. They are going to a doctor every three months to get HIV. And STI tested, they are more aware of their behavior. The risk that they may have been exposed to yet, they are still excluded.

And the FDA did not release.

Any real data or information to justify this and that’s a real problem. Absolutely.

And I want to thank you. Jason one for your, your candidness, in terms of being able to talk about your own lived experience through this issue and the ramifications as it relates to the lack of action, matching up with messaging. And on that point, I wanted to ask you because you were kind of alluding to it at the end there what, maybe some of the more sticky and long-standing myths are around HIV and AIDS, because I feel like a lot of the reporting that I’ve seen and the mainstream press, but even in some trade Publications, like ours is we’ve made a lot of Headway. I know the 2030 goal is with the federal government has, for being able to, and the HIV epidemic as it stands. But when you look at it from your lens, what is still out there in terms of challenges, or maybe where the public needs to be able to fully understand this issue more more thoroughly?

Sure. I think it is important for me to share that gay and bisexual. Men are still the highest group the group, with the highest number of new HIV infections in this country and because of biology around the thickness of the cell membrane of the anus versus that of the vagina. Having anal sex still has a much higher risk of Contracting HIV if exposed to the virus. And it’s important that we ask why, why is it still that game by a man amidst? All you know 40 years of education information about HIV and the availability of prep amidst the messaging around condoms. Why is this community still just

proportionately affected and, you know, the answers are complex because they have a lot to do with

Things that affect certain groups in this country’s, minority groups, weekly stigmatized, minority groups, Health in general, you know, things like poverty, lack of access to comprehensive, and consistent health insurance, lack of safe, and secure, housing and food, right? These are all issues that take issues like HIV and other health issues and push them lower down on the priority list for folks who understandably have a lot more things to be worried about regarding their basic needs. You know, you, you need only look at what’s happening in Florida and states around the nation, regarding LGBT issues, right? You know, years after we finally achieved marriage equality and to see that it is still

Will really challenging to be anything other than cisgender and heterosexual in this country. There is a very loud and vocal and well-organized and moneyed minority. So show, politically and religiously that continues to use attacking and, and fomenting, fear around lgbtq plus people even now on the backs of children on transgender children and parents who are simply just trying to keep their kids alive and get them access to the health care that they need in order to score a political points in order to win elections.

And all of these things and many others combined make the context around what it means to be lgbtq degree Plus in this country. Full of issues and challenges that ultimately lead to higher chance of Contracting HIV. Jason,

I’ve really appreciate you being on the show and being able to share your insights and the work that your organization is done and on that on that. And, you know, we’ve obviously in the past honored, the gmhc and FCB health for the bloody quality campaign at the mmm Awards. I know that you were active in the AIDS, New York, the AIDS Walk in New York earlier this year, with the dressing, the monkey Pike, the monkey pox Empires outbreak last year. What else can we expect from your organization going forward? Or what, you know, can you give us a little preview on that end?

Sure, you know, teammates. He has recently significantly expanded on the number of supporting housing units that we are

Are able to provide to clients in need, in fact, the number of units that we will have expanded to over the next several months of grown from about 90 to nearly 250.

And you know, gmhc uses what, what’s called a housing first model, which means that the number one thing that someone needs is safe and secure housing right away. Not waiting until, you know, they’ve had any substance use or mental health treatment needs met, you know, not waiting. Until they have begun treatment for HIV. If they’re living with the virus, get them into housing for first because that Safety and Security addresses. So many of those underlying structural drivers I mentioned earlier, and it’s a really exciting development for us, particularly amidst, you know, housing crisis Nationwide. Let alone in New York City to be able to,

you know, provide this for our clients. It’s very meaningful work that you’re doing on behalf of them and obviously it goes without saying, so I appreciate you being on the show. Jason, appreciate, all the work, the organ.

Asia is done being able to answer these questions about the changes to, you know, blood donation regulations. And hopefully as changes come down the line, we can revisit this at some point and see what impact that’s having on the community.

Well, thanks again. So much Jack for having me and for focusing on this issue and for supporting our work with FCB health, I actually would like to share. Just like one more interesting factoid that you’re listeners. It may really piqued their

interest is that okay, sure that’s totally fine. So you know, one of the things that

can happen under the fda’s new policy is that an individual could have vaginal sex without a condom without being on prep with as many partners as they want in any given period of time and not be restricted for for donating blood based solely on that behavior and hey, we’re sex positive, right? So go out, be safe, have an incredible sex life. But when you compare that to the fact that

Um, a gay man who only has two sexual partners in the past three months is restricted. It really highlights that continued disparity. And there’s a little science behind that difference, but it’s mostly socio-cultural and socio-political because the FDA says it’s making decisions based on science, but it’s ultimately making decisions based on the socio-political context. And that’s really important to keep in

mind, I

appreciate you highlighting that double standard there. It’s it’s obvious when you put it that way that there’s clearly a disparity on that front and one that I think there are listeners will certainly benefit from as they go forward. You know, being able to think about this issue and certainly message to patients and consumers on that issue. So I appreciate you, including that as well. Thank


I am

pleased today to be joined by the founder and president of out. Bio Ramsey, Johnson Ramsey, how are you doing today?

I’m good. Jack, how are you? Thanks for having me.

I’m doing well, I’ve we’ve spoken before, but for those who are not familiar with your organization or the work that you do, can you give us a quick rundown of out bio and its history.

Sure. So I always like to start off any explanation about bio bite with the disclosure that I have a day job and to day job. So I always not my day job. It’s not what pays the bills. I am vice president of clinical operations at Adidas bio right now so I run a number of clinical programs for them and I’ve been in the clinical research industry for about 25 years that’s kind of my life science. Kind of connection to that Community. My day job is I’m the president and founder of about bio is you as you mentioned and I started out by about eight years ago just as a way to kind of network with people at that time in 2015 was thinking about my next role in in the clinical research world and was just looking for ways to meet people and invited a few lgbtq individuals that I knew that happened to work in drug development, just for meet and greet, essentially, trying to

That kind of what other Industries had in terms of meetup groups like out in Tech and there’s a similar organization in the finance world, but there was nothing in the Life Sciences. So I started it in 2015, we probably got 10 or 11 people that showed up and it’s just taken off since then it’s sort of taken a light one, a life of its own in terms of its growth and expansion, we operate it as a pretty small Organization for the first few years. And then once the pandemic hit,

We kind of took the time while we were taking a break from our in-person events to fully incorporate as a 501 C3. And you know at that point kind of expanded Beyond just being a meetup group. Now we have things like a mentor program, a scholarship program, we just hosted our first ever annual ERG Summit back in May, which we hope to make a regular thing and where expanding beyond the Boston and Cambridge area. And I’m happy to talk a bit more about that if you’re interested, or later on.

Absolutely, I’m really interested in the expansion plans because Ive been at this for almost a decade now, and it’s really impressive to see where it started from and where it’s going into that end,


talk about expansion, obviously, biotech is really centered in, a few areas across the country, but being able to tap into those networking communities and taping into, you know, the thousands of people that work in this industry, I imagine is very important for your organization. Yeah.

And we, you know, early on sort of

Unified obvious for obvious reasons, the Bay Area, as an area. We would love to try and expand into, but, you know, we kind of had trouble gaining momentum there. I would identify a couple of people that were sort of interested in doing something, but then it would never sort of take off. And, you know what? I found within the last couple of years is what it really takes is sort of a champion in it, will particular area to really get things going. And that’s what kind of happened in the in the geographic locations where we’ve expanded. So you kind of you can’t force it. You have to allow people to kind of come to you and say, we see what you’re doing in Boston, and Cambridge, and we want to do something similar where we are. And so, the first sort of group of people that reached out and wants to do that was a small group in the UK. So they reached out, I think probably during the pandemic and said, you know, we’ve been to a couple of your virtual events, which we were doing because of covid.

We think that’s great and we want to do something like, what you all have done in Boston here in the UK. And so, what we did with them is we signed a licensing agreement that allows them to use the outbound name and logo. But they are essentially an independent organization because we don’t have a paid staff here in Boston without bio inks, sort of the original organization. So we can’t run these groups as sort of true chapters. And so that’s the model that we kind of adopted with the UK that, you know, they would run independently, they have their own board or steering committee, they get their own legal entity status and you know, they’re sort of often running doing their own thing.

So that worked in the UK, then, you know, Bay Area, kind of jumped in and said, we want to do something. They were sort of the next one. I think San Diego was shortly after the Bay Area, then greater New York, wanted to do something. And then most recently, in addition, to Ireland, also Republic of Ireland, has their own organization in Dublin, and then most recently, a group in Seattle, reached out and wanted to do some things. So, we’re in sort of the starting stages of getting our licensing agreement in place, they’re creating a website and starting to create a distribution slash mailing list to build the organization there in Seattle. So, I think the thing I learned is like I said, early, you have to kind of let people dictate when an air, a specific area, as ready for an organization like out by, you can’t force it and so that’s what we’ve done. You know, I wait for people to come to us and say we wanted to do something here in Seattle or Bay Area, San Francisco.

Up or greater New Yorker or wherever and I let them kind of dictate when an organization is ready to get up and running and when a you know, geographic location is ready.

And what would you say to some of the people who may be listening to this podcast that have similar interests or of, you know, pursued a different similar idea like that in terms of hey I maybe want to start my own chapter or have my own entity and my area, what is, what does the Outreach look like or what should their expectations be in terms of actually getting this thing off the ground?

Yeah, what I usually tell people is kind of start with a mailing list so start gauging interest, you know, so reach out to do exactly what I did. Eight years ago, reach out to the two or three people that you happen to know that that work in the Life Sciences and say I’m thinking of starting this thing, would you be interested? And if so you reach out to your network your own personal Network and and forward this to them have them contact me and to see if they

Would be interested once you get a sort of critical mass, which I would say is, you know, 20 30 people on a distribution list.

Try having an event, you have to sort of recreate the wheel. You know it doesn’t have to be rocket science. You all meet at a you know, gay bar downtown wherever you are. See how many people show up

And you know, the other thing I I often tell the groups when they’re starting is don’t bite off more than you can chew. Sort of to early. I think people always come to me with these Grand plans of

Being a networking organization, having monthly events, having a scholarship fund. Having, you know, a mentor program do in volunteer committee like doing all these things. And, you know, I always say I took, I took me five years before we did anything other than just having monthly events. So, you know, take two years, build your mailing list do nothing but have events every month, you know, be the become the best organization. You can be at what, you know, having social events. And then you can think about doing other things, when the group dictates it, you know, we didn’t start thinking about Mentor, programs and scholarship funds, until we did a couple of surveys of our members and they came back to us and said, those are the things that we’re interested in. You know, we love the monthly events. We love socializing and networking and meeting people, but we all know would love to be matched with a mentor. Are we would love to see out bio award a scholarship. We would love to see an ERG Summit.

So, you know, we let the members kind of dictate, you know, where the organization went,

at least in the beginning.

It’s important to underscore that element of incremental build and not trying to, you know, drink the whole ocean if you will. And I kind of wanted to talk about that element of community because obviously that’s something that in this time in American history where there has been so much progress made in terms of lgbtq Rights, there is also this not only existential but very real threat to some of those being clawed back in certain States across the country, whether it’s in relation to gay rights trans rights you name it. I’m curious about the value of community in these times totally in the Pharma and Biotech Industry, which is, you know, small seek and serve in terms of not necessarily being the most Progressive and out there but they want to support their employees and leaders. Can you talk about that value of community at this time? Because I think it’s important for our audience to really understand

Yeah, and I don’t think I’ll buy a would have gotten as big as we did, you know, grown as quickly as we did, if there were a need for community. And I think in the beginning, it’s surprised me to be honest. Because, you know, we here in Boston live in a very liberal City in a very liberal State. We all work in a very liberal industry in the life science of drug development and biotech. So I in the beginning was surprised at, you know, the interest in getting on our mailing list coming to our events because I thought, you know, if any place is going to if there’s ever going to feel like there’s a community anywhere, it would be here in Boston. So I felt like there shortly can’t be this much of a need for people to feel like they’re part of something, but there was the mailing list just exploded. You know, people we went from ten events to 10 people at our events to 30 to 50 to 100 before I knew it. There were 200 people coming to our events every month. So I think, you know, people are just hungry for our feeling like their part of something.

They want to see the same faces that they see every month, they want to feel like they’re part of that.

Boston you know in our case here in Boston, that same part of that same Boston community life science Community. You know, they they want that sense of family and I think it’s more important now than ever with everything that we see happening and other parts of the country. I think, you know we start it’s easy to get complacent here in Boston because we’re not in Texas, we’re not in Florida, we’re not in some of these states where they’re really struggling where you see all the this legislation getting passed. That is a danger to the people in our community. So, you know, it’s easy to get complacent. And I think that’s one of the things we try and raise at our events, every month is just remind people how lucky we are to live and work where we work, and that it’s not as easy for other members of our community that don’t live here in Massachusetts. So I think it’s more important now than ever to feel like we’re part of a community. And we have a family and we’re connected to

To each other and, you know, we need to support each other and be kind. And and, you know, that’s something that we’re always trying to promote at our events.

And is there a role for Pharma and biotech

to play in terms of being outwardly supportive of the lgbtq community? Is there area for maybe room for improvement that we haven’t seen in past years? I

think there’s always room for improvement. I think some companies do more than others obviously. But, you know, I think year in Massachusetts, we’re very lucky. I think, you know, there are a lot of the biotech and, and farmer here in the Boston and Cambridge area is very supportive.

I think that, you know, a lot of companies now are starting to recognize the value in showing their support of the lgbtq community and what that can potentially do for driving the diversity of their talent Pipeline. And so I think, you know, that’s what I’m talking to companies about potentially being a financial sponsor of Ohio, or sponsoring one of our events or hosting an event. That’s always the sort of big topic of conversation. People don’t want to come right out and say well what’s in it for me if I host an event? Or if I become a donor about bio but I’m saying they want to know, you know, what are they going to get out of it and I think that’s what they get. The lgbtq community is very small. We do our homework. We want to know if we’re going to go work for a company.

You know what, what’s their commitment to diversity? What organizations do they support? Have they ever hosted a note bio event? For example, what other types of things have they done? I think it’s an obligation almost. Now, when we’re interviewing, when I say we, I mean people in the lgbtq community when we’re interviewing for a new job that we say, you know, what is this company is commitment to diversity moving forward when I look at your website, how many women do I see on your board? How many people of color do I see in the c-suite? I mean, you know, I think I certainly feel an obligation now to ask those types of questions. I just started my day job at Adidas, not that long ago. And it was one of the questions I asked did, I wouldn’t be working there. Now, if I didn’t feel like, you know, they were doing everything they could to make sure that they had to diverse organization, and that they had a commitment to diversity moving forward. So, I think it’s

Parent in all of us to ask those types of questions

and I would be remiss if I didn’t bring it up for our audience which are primarily medical marketers too. I believe that there’s probably a tie-in in terms of how consumers in the lgbtq community. Look at say, Pharma or Healthcare Brands as well where it says, you know if you’re not supporting our causes or you know things that we value you know we’ll go find another competitor that will. Yeah absolutely and I think you know people

rank on June a little bun, a little bit on pride month and companies sort of rainbow washing and changing their logos on LinkedIn. I love it man. I think you know I think all companies should do it. I think it’s a nice indicator of you know who’s supportive of the community even if it’s just for the month of June, obviously we want them to do it all year long but we love to see the those rainbow colors and in June and we love to see the companies that are being supportive of our community as consumers and as potential employees.

Excellent. Well Ramsey I’ve really appreciated you being on the show and detailing you know the history of your organization where it’s going. I wanted to give you the final word if there’s anything you want to pass along to our audience about what they should know about out. Bio and anything else you have going on going forward? Yeah, no 2020 end of 2023 into

2024. We’re fully booked for all of our monthly events and you know we hope to do sort of more of the same. We just awarded our scholarship for for 2023. In fact, we presented our recipient with his check last night at our event. So we’ll be doing another scholarship in 2024. We hope to do another ERG Summit in 2024 and we hope to see out bio expand even more over the next year. So if anyone’s listening want is interested in finding out more that they can go to our website, which is just out by dot org for more information and if they were interested in getting on our mailing list, that can do that right there on the website.

Also, Ramsey again, really appreciate your time. Appreciate the work that your organization does and wish you the best going forward.

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

It’s tough being an aging rock star, ask Bruce Springsteen or our first topic: Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler.

The iconic rock band postponed half a dozen shows after Tyler injured his vocal cords during a performance over the weekend.

“I’m heartbroken to say I have received strict doctor’s orders not to sing for the next thirty days,” Tyler posted on Instagram. “I sustained vocal cord damage during Saturday’s show that led to subsequent bleeding. We’ll need to postpone a few dates so that we can come back and give you the performance you deserve.”

This is yet another reminder that vocal cords are indeed vulnerable to injury and that Father Time remains undefeated.

Yeah, I mean Tyler’s got that high pitched effect that he does with his voice and you know you wonder how long he’ll be able to to sustain that but when you think about the Aging rockers you know they can’t all be you know Mick or Sir Paul right and kind of defy age as you say and while we all Marvel at their ability to defy age reminded every now and then that they’re human too and not the Invincible rocker’s that they once were so, here we go again, you know, after Madonna and you know, we lost Robbie Robertson a while ago and so they’ll always be icons but you know, they’re they’re human too.

Yeah. The only thing I have to add to that is we’re lucky that’s only the vocal chords this time. I remember a few years ago and Steven Tyler fell off the stage while performing chip to tooth. So glad that it’s it’s just this and hopefully they get back out there on the road. So I can hear Dream On, and living on the edge and whatever your face

looks like a lady.

Yeah. Whatever, your favorite Aerosmith song is.

A viral TikTok trend involves young women ditching their typical period routines of using tampons or pads and instead “free bleeding,” or menstruating in absorbable underwear or even just regular underwear, with a towel, at home.

While this may be a queasy topic for some, proponents of the trend argue that it’s a healthier, more natural way of sitting out your period.

Countless people have made videos on the app in recent weeks saying free bleeding has reduced their cramps and even made their periods lighter than usual. Plus, they claim they can avoid the discomfort of tampons and other period products like menstrual cups.

However, whether free bleeding is actually healthier than using menstrual products is more of a personal decision. 

For one, free bleeding doesn’t have any proven health benefits — and there’s currently no evidence to suggest it does have the ability to make periods lighter. The support for these claims is merely anecdotal, with people noting it has helped alleviate their cramping and simply feels more comfortable than using menstrual products.

Now Lesha who is not here. This week wrote that story for the website and it’s another interesting Trend that we’ve seen emerging on tiktok where it’s more based on anecdotal evidence. But there is a tie in where people obviously say that you know it works for them in some sort of way. It kind of reminds me of the free birth thing that she had covered a few months ago. In terms of people saying yeah you can do this. Maybe there aren’t considerable health risk but she noted in the story, too. That it’s more of a, you know, personal matter in terms of whether or not you feel comfortable having your period or having menstruation in a way that could be public and it was noted in the article too. That, you know, obviously you have to be considered of being around people with, you know, fluids or anything like that. So it was just kind of an interesting topic. I don’t know how widespread it truly is, but obviously with Tick Tock, one thing just catches on fire there and it’s got plenty of eyeballs. It’s

edgy and it originated on tiktok I believe which means that it’s really in that anecdotal category as you said. But it’s

Really a thing from from what we’re reading. And obviously given the fact that clothes and blood don’t usually get along too well with one another, it’s a bit more accessible to people who work from home. Right? So yeah. But but anything that women want to experiment with that could make periods easier to tolerate supportive.

Absolutely. And it’s one thing that Lesha had noted in the article. There was a commenter who said yeah, this could work for people that work from home but if you have to be in the office you can’t necessarily take off a week or so of being at home. So yeah, if it’s in the anecdotal phase, probably nothing wrong with it, but just another interesting tiktok Trend that Lesha has brought to light for our audience.

Elon Musk, owner of X (formerly Twitter) and brain implant startup Neuralink recently posted on the former to defend accusations related to the latter.

On Monday, Musk pushed back on a user who claimed that Neuralink’s brain implants were responsible for the deaths of several monkeys during experimentation.

“No monkey has died as a result of a Neuralink implant,” Musk tweeted. “First our early implants to minimize risk to healthy monkeys, we chose terminal monkeys (close to death already).”

Users compared Musk’s tweets to that of absurdist user dril, with others calling it “unequivocally, the funniest thing he has ever said.”

Despite reports from Reuters that Neuralink’s testing of a brain implant contributed to the deaths of nearly 1,500 animals over four years, the startup received approval from the Food and Drug Administration to launch its first-in-human clinical trial of its brain implants in May. 

The company said it is aiming to begin later this year following a $280 million fundraising round.

It wouldn’t be an episode of this podcast without making some reference to Elon Musk. Obviously, there is a clear tie in here with the neuralink Saga. And, you know, I don’t know if having that argument of saying we didn’t kill healthy monkeys. We only killed terminally ill. Monkeys is making the argument that he was expecting, but the logic tree has never stopped. Elon Musk from posting anything online. Come to think of it,

right? And I did explore this topic back in December and you know spoke to a medical ethicist with knowledge of the animal, welfare act and but, you know, didn’t have to even go that far to

Sort of discover that some 1500 animals had died at that point. You know, in association with the neuralink testing of its brain implant. According to a report that the Reuters came that word is I’m not sure if they FOID that request but they reported on that first and, you know, in and of itself that count wasn’t necessarily indicative of a violation of standard research, practice under the Ava, the Animal Welfare act, which sets the parameters for how our researchers need to treat animals. Yet, the report was, was rather inflammatory in terms of saying that employees at neuralink had raised red flags about the work culture and that muskets set unrealistic demands for Speed and those demands, they claimed had caused them to sweat deadlines and make last-minute change to surgeries resulting in slip-ups and scientific procedures that then needed to be repeated compounding the laws of life. And in one instance, Reuters noted based on interviews with 20 current formerly staffers

A 25 out of 60 pigs had the wrong size device implanted in their heads. Another involved botched surgeries that left one employee warning of the need to prevent further quote unquote hack jobs, you know, so to unequivocally or, you know, categorically deny that. Any monkeys in this case had died and association with the testing, it seems a little bit specious.

It does. And it’s one of those things where obviously the

goal that they’re aiming for are human trials, they want to be able to use these brain implants in humans. I don’t know how much support in the court of public opinion, there is for that sort of Technology given the track record that we’ve seen with animals. Even if it is, you know, coming from Reuters that have come up over the past couple months. They’re all so questions, too, about whether the company had been, you know, leveraging the animal testing, the animal control board that was overseeing these tests as well. So there been a lot of questions raised about the ethical points that you refer to in your story, Mark with neuralink. But also what it means on the go forward for if they’re going to start human trials by the end of this year or early next year,

What does that all mean for us? If there’s already this kind of spotty questionable history,


And there was another rival company synchron. In fact, that beat them to clinical clinical trial stage last year and they had notched a comparatively low 80 animal deaths according to Reuters. And so, yeah, I mean this I had read earlier in the year that they were cleared for human trials, to start with the neuralink but you know, questions being raised.

At the place of of neuralink testing, the California National Primate Research Center. You know, that given the level of questions raised from, you know, concerned groups, you’re right, one has to wonder, you know, whether that’s a wise step for them to take without, you know, further proving that they’ve improved their testing procedures

and the deadlines too. I mean, the I think it was the first Reuters report had detail that there was supposed to be hitting X Y, and Z over the past five or six years in terms of deadlines and they’d missed them. If the goal is to launch brain implants in humans by the end of the year, you know, we’re already here in mid-september whether or not we’re going to get that whose to say but it’s certainly, I will not be the first to sign up for that. If we’re if we’re taking a tally here, I will cross myself off the

list, right? So yeah, they’re gonna have trouble recruiting for that study. I would think

All right, so that’ll do it for this week. Tune in next week. For Jack’s interview with modernist. Chief brand officer Kate Cronin.

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