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Dell Black Friday ad features $120 Inspiron laptop, $500 gaming desktop



Dell Black Friday 2018 ad

Costco may have beaten Dell to the punch with its Black Friday ad this year as a major retailer selling PCs, but the computer manufacturer reliably releases its ad around November 1 — and this year is no exception. As usual, it features the full breadth of Dell’s product line, with the best deals usually coming as “doorbusters” that are only available for a limited time.

The biggest doorbuster will no doubt be the Inspiron 11 3000 laptop, which will sell for just $119.99. Of course, its specs are basic — AMD E2-9000e processor, 4GB of RAM, 32GB of storage — and the timing of the sale is a bit awkward, coming on Thanksgiving at 6 p.m. right when many people will be sitting down for turkey dinner. But a deal’s a deal, so expect the advertised limited quantities to be snapped up quickly.

If you prefer a dirt-cheap desktop instead, the next hour’s doorbuster is an Inspiron Small Desktop for $249.99, which does include an Intel Core i3 CPU along with 4 gigs of memory and a terabyte hard drive. For another budget laptop deal, you can wake up early on Black Friday instead for an 8 a.m. doorbuster of aa 2-in-1 version of the Inspiron 11 3000, coming with the same amount of RAM and storage as the $120 model, but with a slightly different AMD processor (A6-9220e).

Dell is also advertising two other sub-$200 laptop doorbusters (each $199.99): one at 10 a.m. on Black Friday for an Inspiron 15 3000 with Intel Celeron chip, 4GB of RAM, 500GB hard drive, and 15.6-inch display; the other the day before at the same hour for an Inspiron Chromebook 11 2-in-1 with Celeron processor, 4GB of memory, and 32GB of storage. For a little more you can upgrade to an Inspiron 15 3000 edition with a Pentium processor instead of a Celeron — $229.99 as a doorbuster at 2 p.m. on Black Friday — or pay $329.99 at the same to get one with a Core i3 CPU and double the RAM and storage.

Other desktop doorbusters include an Inspiron 22 3000 Touch all-in-one that comes with an AMD E2-9000e processor, 4GB of RAM, 1TB hard drive, and a 21.5-inch 1080p HD touchscreen for $299.99 starting at noon on Black Friday. For more power, you can step up to an Inspiron tower with Core i5, 8 gigs of RAM, and terabyte hard drive for either $399.99 at 6 p.m. on Black Friday or for $499.99 with a bundled 24-inch monitor at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving.

Dell is touting its $499.99 doorbuster for its Inspiron Gaming Desktop (10 p.m. on Thanksgiving) as the lowest price ever on the system, though expect compromises for that low price. In particular, you only get a Core i3 processor in addition to 8 gigs of RAM, 1TB hard drive, and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 graphics. If you’re willing to pay for a faster processor, a non-doorbuster deal for the Inspiron Gaming Desktop features a Core i5 as well as a more powerful GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card for $749.99. Gamers on the go might be interested in the G5 15 gaming laptop (Core i7, 16GB of RAM, terabyte hard drive plus 256GB SSD, GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card, 15.6-inch display) that’s available for $999.99 on Thanksgiving at 8 p.m.

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Nuclear power’s reliability is dropping as extreme weather increases



Enlarge / Cooling water is only one factor that limits the productivity of nuclear power plants.

With extreme weather causing power failures in California and Texas, it’s increasingly clear that the existing power infrastructure isn’t designed for these new conditions. Past research has shown that nuclear power plants are no exception, with rising temperatures creating cooling problems for them. Now, a comprehensive analysis looking at a broader range of climate events shows that it’s not just hot weather that puts these plants at risk—it’s the full range of climate disturbances.

Heat has been one of the most direct threats, as higher temperatures mean that the natural cooling sources (rivers, oceans, lakes) are becoming less efficient heat sinks. However, this new analysis shows that hurricanes and typhoons have become the leading causes of nuclear outages, at least in North America and South and East Asia. Precautionary shutdowns for storms are routine, and so this finding is perhaps not so surprising. But other factors—like the clogging of cooling intake pipes by unusually abundant jellyfish populations—are a bit less obvious.

Overall this latest analysis calculates that the frequency of climate-related nuclear plant outages is almost eight times higher than it was in the 1990s. The analysis also estimates that the global nuclear fleet will lose up 1.4 percent—about 36 TWh—of its energy production in the next 40 years, and up to 2.4 percent, or 61 TWh, by 2081-2100.

Heat, storms, drought

The author analyzed publicly available databases from the International Atomic Energy Agency to identify all climate-linked shutdowns (partial and complete) of the world’s 408 operational reactors. Unplanned outages are generally very well documented, and available data made it possible to calculate trends in the frequency of outages that were linked to environmental causes over the past 30 years. The author also used more detailed data from the last decade (2010 – 2019) to provide one of the first analyses of which types of climate events have had the most impact on nuclear power.

While the paper doesn’t directly link the reported events to climate change, the findings do show an overall increase in the number of outages due to a range of climate events.

The two main categories of climate disruptions broke down into thermal disruptions (heat, drought, and wildfire) and storms (including hurricanes, typhoons, lightning, and flooding). In the case of heat and drought, the main problem is the lack of cool enough water—or in the case of drought, enough water at all—to cool the reactor. However, there were also a number of outages due to ecological responses to warmer weather; for example, larger than usual jellyfish populations have blocked the intake pipes on some reactors.

Storms and wildfires, on the other hand, caused a range of problems, including structural damage, precautionary preemptive shutdowns, reduced operations, and employee evacuations. In the timeframe of 2010 to 2019, the leading causes of outages were hurricanes and typhoons in most parts of the world, although heat was still the leading factor in Western Europe (France in particular). While these represented the most frequent causes, the analysis also showed that droughts were the source of the longest disruptions, and thus the largest power losses.

The author calculated that the average frequency of climate-linked outages went from 0.2 outages per year in the 1990s to 1.5 outages in the timeframe of 2010 to 2019. A retrospective analysis further showed that for every 1°C rise in temperature (above the average temperature between 1951 and 1980), the energy output of the global fleet fell about 0.5 percent.

Retrofitting for extreme weather

This analysis also shows that climate-associated outages have become the leading cause of disruptions to nuclear power production—other causes of outages have only increased 50 percent in the same timeframe. Projecting into the future, the author calculates that, if no mitigation measures are put into place, the disruptions will continue to increase through the rest of this century.

“All energy technologies, including renewables, will be significantly affected by climate change,” writes Professor Jacapo Buongiorno, who was not involved in the study, in an email to Ars. Buongiorno is the Tepco Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology (MIT) and he co-chaired the MIT study on The Future of Nuclear Energy in a Carbon Constrained World. “The results are not surprising—nuclear plants can experience unplanned outages due to severe events (e.g., hurricanes, tornadoes) or heat waves, the frequency of which is increasing.”

Although there is relatively little research on the topic of climate effects on nuclear power specifically, some projects are already underway to adapt nuclear plants to the changing climate. For example, the US Department of Energy recently invested in a project researching methods to reduce the amount of water needed by nuclear facilities (e.g. advanced dry cooling).

“Existing nuclear plants are already among the most resilient assets of our energy infrastructure,” writes Buongiorno. “The current fleet is adapting to rising sea levels (for those plants located in areas at potential risk of flood) and the increasing intensity of storms. New nuclear reactor technologies will be even more resilient, as in many instances that are being designed to be dry cooled (i.e. not using river/ocean water for rejecting heat to the ambient) as well as capable of operating in ‘island mode,’ i.e. disconnected from the grid and ready to restart before other large power plants in the event of a blackout.”

Other nuclear technologies, such as pebble-bed, molten salt, and advanced small modulator reactors, may also provide more climate-resistant solutions, but these are all still under development. In general, the strict regulations in place for nuclear reactors make it particularly difficult to incorporate newer technologies. Even as these technologies become available, it will likely require further reactor downtime to install new components. So, at least in the short term, even nuclear power will likely contribute to the increasing frequency of climate-related power shortages.

Nature Energy, 2021.  DOI: 10.1038/s41560-021-00849-y

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The Tokyo Olympics could be a Covid-19 “super evolutionary event”



Enlarge / Flag bearers Yui Susaki and Rui Hachimura of Team Japan lead their team out during the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on July 23, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan.

Matthias Hangst | Getty Images

Ten days before the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics, Kara Lawson, the coach of the United States women’s 3×3 basketball team, gave a press conference. The sport is new to the Olympics this year, and Lawson, a former WNBA player and coach at Duke University, told the dozen or so reporters participating online what she liked about it—the game is faster-paced, Lawson said, and more unpredictable than the five-on-five version. But during a global pandemic, Lawson added, the health of her players was her number one priority. “We’re obviously tested daily. I’m actually quarantined in my room right now,” Lawson said. “We’re masked all the time … a positive test at this juncture is hard for any team getting ready to go to Tokyo. We’re focused on doing our part, not just so we can have a good competition, but we definitely feel a responsibility to fellow human beings to be smart about eliminating transmission of the disease worldwide.”

Less than a week later, one of Lawson’s players—Katie Lou Samuelson, a power forward for the Seattle Storm—announced on Instagram that she had tested positive for Covid-19 and wouldn’t be able to go to Tokyo. Fast-paced, maybe, but not exactly unpredictable. As the 2020 Tokyo Games get underway, Samuelson is one of 91 people either in Tokyo for the Olympics or who were hoping to go who’ve tested positive for the disease, including US tennis player Coco Gauf, a Czech beach volleyball player, two South African soccer players, and so on.

The spirit of “Olympism” is supposed to ward off worldly concerns. The riders of the Apocalypse may stalk the globe, but they’re not allowed into an Olympic Village. War gets postponed, Famine withers in the dining hall, and Pestilence … well. The global pandemic has killed at least 4 million people and resulted in a very strange Summer Games—no cheering crowds, athletes essentially confined to quarters when they’re not going faster, higher, or stronger—all in an attempt to prevent the disease from spreading among the competitors and to the people of Japan, and to keep the Olympians from carrying new strains of the virus back to their home countries. The Olympics are one of Earth’s great symbols of international cooperation, but this year the Games are also a mass gathering in the middle of the worst pandemic in a century, where people from nearly every country on Earth will gather in a vast congregate living setting and compete in some close-contact sports, sometimes indoors. What could possibly go wr—

The story of disease is also a story of mass gatherings. In 1867, a cholera outbreak started at the Kumbh Mela in India, the world’s largest religious gathering. It spread from the banks of the Ganges to Russia and Europe. A million people died. Over the years, the Hajj pilgrimage has been the site of a bunch of respiratory disease outbreaks, including influenza and the coronaviruses that predate the one that causes Covid-19. In 2014 there were measles outbreaks at the International Dog Show in Slovenia, and at Disneyland.

But the Olympics has generally managed to avoid big infectious disease outbreaks, even when it happened during big disease scares. H1N1 influenza didn’t hurt the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, neither SARS nor MERS spread through London in 2012, Zika didn’t spread from Rio in 2016. Yet nevertheless, “What if people get sick at the Olympics?” is a top-three Olympic story subgenre. (The other two are “This athlete is driven to succeed for personal reasons” and “Olympic athletes have sex with each other.”)

Just one postponement

In early 2020, amid a pandemic then just beginning to swell into an exponential tsunami, the International Olympic Committee and the Tokyo organizers postponed the Games. An advisory group composed of experts from public health, travel medicine, economics, behavioral science, and even theme park design spent the gap year coming up with a plan. The person in charge was the one who was largely responsible for the successful public health measures at the London Games in 2012, a public health and mass-gathering expert named Brian McCloskey. “Essentially, the public health response to any event is the same. It’s about how you determine what the risks will be and what you do about them,” McCloskey tells me. “The difference here is the sheer scale, which we haven’t seen before.” Before the organizers closed the Games to travelers in March, they expected 20 million people to come to Tokyo. That probably wouldn’t have been great.

The Olympics are a strange beast. Even with the threat of deadly disease looming, all the stakeholders are highly incentivized to make sure the show goes on. The host country’s tourism industries stand to get a windfall, as do the media organizations covering the Games. Olympic committees are famously full of jet-setters with cozy relationships to all the businesses involved. And unlike, say, professional sports, where missing a couple games might not matter much, Olympic athletes and coaches get their shot only once every four years—so they might put up with a little looseness in infection control measures.

Still, nobody wants anyone to get sick. That advisory group determined that the basic public health measures people relied on before the arrival of Covid vaccines would still work. In fact, things like hand-washing, mask-wearing, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces were already working well in Japan. “What we did was to layer on top of that some of the learning from the UK, where not having a test-and-trace system was a weakness,” McCloskey says.

You’ll remember this from the pandemic’s early days, when the US and Europe mostly failed at it: Test everyone for Covid, trace the contacts of the people who are positive, and isolate them to keep one person’s infection from turning into a super-spreading event. That’d be the approach in Tokyo, along with reducing the number of people in the Olympic Village, improving the ventilation systems in those apartments, and adding “additional filtration” and plexiglass shields (which probably don’t really do anything, but OK) in the common areas. And “by and large there is no intermingling between the international community and the local Japanese population,” McCloskey says. “They don’t go out in the subway in Tokyo.”

The organizers thought about requiring vaccination but ultimately decided against it. “We were fairly certain a vaccine would be available, but we were equally certain it would not be available equally around the world,” McCloskey says. “That’s against the whole spirit of doing the Games. We also didn’t want athletes competing for vaccines with health care workers and local populations.”

At a press conference just a few days before the Games were set to open, McCloskey described the system—codified for the competitors into “playbooks”—as one of multiple layers of filtration. Athletes would get tested before they left their home countries and again every day before competition. They’d follow social distancing rules, the non-pharmaceutical interventions of 2020. And if someone pinged positive, they’d get multiple kinds of tests, including a highly accurate nasopharyngeal PCR test, to see how high their viral load was and help determine the level of risk to the people they might’ve exposed. (More virus equals more bad.) Olympic staff would track their contacts, in part using forms the teams would fill out beforehand of who was close to whom. Vaccines, if athletes got them, would be a bonus layer.

As for the Olympic-bound folks already testing positive, McCloskey said that didn’t constitute a failure in the system. Quite the opposite—each one represented the cutting-off of a more infectious timeline that might have been. “What we’re seeing is what we expected to see, essentially,” McCloskey told reporters in Tokyo at a press conference on July 19, a week before the opening ceremony. “If I thought all the tests we did would be negative, I wouldn’t be bothering to do the tests.”

Hey, 91 positive cases out of roughly 15,000 competitors and tens of thousands of reporters and other Olympic workers ain’t bad, right? For a few disease experts and athlete advocates, the answer is: That is, in fact, pretty bad—because of what it says about the preparations, and what might happen next.

Is a safe Olympics even possible?

At least that’s what some scientists and experts have been saying. Hitoshi Oshitani, the virologist who devised Japan’s anti-Covid strategy, told The Times of London that he didn’t think it was possible to have a safe Olympics. “There are a number of countries that do not have many cases, and a number that don’t have any variants,” Oshitani told The Times. “We should not make the Olympics [an occasion] to spread the virus to these countries. There is not much risk to the US and UK, where people are vaccinated. But most countries in the world don’t have the vaccine.”

McCloskey estimates about 85 percent of people coming to Tokyo will be vaccinated. But only about 22 percent of Japanese people are. That’s among the lowest rates of all wealthy countries. Combined with Japan’s relatively low case count, that means most of the population doesn’t yet have antibodies to the virus. They’re what epidemiologists call “naive.” Which means Japan might be, as the cliché goes, a victim of its own success. “Clearly there is a high value being placed on holding these Olympics,” says Samuel Scarpino, managing director for pathogen surveillance at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Pandemic Prevention Institute. “Because certainly it’s risky to bring people together in a congregate setting inside a country with essentially no vaccination and essentially no existing immunity in the population.”

Covid-19’s asymptomatic, airborne spread means that testing has to be extremely frequent, at least once a day, to catch cases before they infect others. The strict, successful disease control measures of the US National Football League and National Basketball Association for example, used all the typical hygiene and distancing measures, plus a hardcore test-trace-isolate regimen. The NFL performed daily reverse-transcription PCR tests and gave players and staff single-purpose electronic devices that registered close contacts; a cumulative 15 minutes or more counted as a higher risk. Over time, the NFL supplemented the electronics with intense in-person interviews to determine the nature of those contacts. (Masked? Indoors? While eating?) “What the NBA did—or women’s basketball, which I advised last year—was to design and pull off a bubble. Once you’re in it, you’re not out,” says Annie Sparrow, a population health science and policy professor at Mt. Sinai Medical School. “There’s no way you can ever create a bubble at the Olympics. It just cannot be done at this scale.”

In early July, Sparrow and a bunch of other US researchers published a commentary in The New England Journal of Medicine expressing many of the same concerns Oshitani did. They went further, warning that the strategy McCloskey’s group had come up with was based on outdated information about the dynamics of the virus.

That article, in turn, echoed criticisms leveled by the World Players Association, an international group that works with athletes’ unions around the world. The WPA has argued—to little effect, having gotten no response from the IOC—that the rules consider contact on, say, the rugby pitch to be the same as contact in individual gymnastics or running track outdoors. WPA representatives criticized the shared-room situation and advice from the playbooks about opening windows once in a while for ventilation, something that might actually be impractical in Tokyo’s extreme summer heat. Also bad in the plan: allowing different kinds of masks and personal protective equipment, using phone apps for contact tracing instead of dedicated tech, and a lineup of other less-than-stellar interventions that the WPA reps said were just asking for trouble. “There’s never going to be zero risk when it comes to Covid, but there certainly could have been more mitigation put in place,” says Matthew Graham, director of legal and player relations at the WPA. “We, like the athletes we represent, hope this can be done safely, but no expense should have been spared for that.”

McCloskey, for his part, maintains that the measures his team has put in place will keep the Village, the Games, and Japan as safe as possible. “As a general principle, I think if I’m not being criticized, I’m not doing my job properly,” he says.

Starting with a single infection

If a few athletes get sick and are not able to compete—that’s sad, but it’s not an economic or epidemiologic catastrophe. But the most expensive Summer Olympics($15.4 billion!) in history with no visitors to the host city? Well, an Olympics failing to live up to the economic and development promises of its organizers wouldn’t exactly be novel, though the actual studies on this are complicated.

The catastrophe, if it happens at all, will start out small—inside a single human cell, infected by a virus. “Whenever you get many people together, there’s the opportunity for large outbreaks—not just super-spreading events, but also multiple generations of transmission, and the infections can then be passed on when people return home,” says Sarah Cobey, an epidemiologist and evolutionary biologist at the University of Chicago. “All such spread promotes not just new cases but also adaptation, including the movement of fitter variants to new populations.”

In other words, the problem isn’t merely someone infecting someone else, or even lots of someone elses. These potential Olympic infections could be like microbiological invasive species, given the means to travel to new populations where they might be even more dangerous than they were at home. Covid-19 has been charged by super-spreader events—occasions where many people get infected at once. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, has evolved and adapted over the past 18 months, manifesting changes to its genetic code that make it easier for the virus to spread. That’s very good for a virus whose whole existential goal is to make more of itself; it’s very bad for humans, because it might make the virus more able to infect other people, either through force of numbers or being more virologically sneaky in infecting cells, or some other mechanism altogether.

A giant gathering with people from many different populations, almost certainly carrying different versions of the virus, is exactly the kind of place that makes super-spreader events and the exchange of new variants more possible. It might—emphasis on might—even make possible the development and spread of new, worse variants. “Personally, if I were in charge of the Olympics in Japan, the risk of transmission getting established would be too high for me. Maybe their assumption is, if it does spill over, they can bring it under control again without risking an epidemic,” Scarpino says. “I may not agree with that, but I think where we diverge in the cost-benefit calculations of holding the Olympics versus the spread of Covid locally in Japan is when we get into the conversation of what this might mean for the evolution of the virus itself.”

This is the worst worst-case scenario. “There are plenty of eco-evolutionary scenarios where this isn’t a traditional super-spreader event, but a ‘super-evolutionary event,’” Scarpino says, “where a critical mass of vaccinated individuals are selecting for variants that have increased transmissibility in vaccinated individuals.” All those people with differing immune statuses and different exposures to different strains of the virus could create a terrifying genetic parody of Olympism’s international cooperation: a free and open exchange of viral ideas on how to be more infectious, maybe even more deadly or more vaccine-evasive. And then it’d travel back to everyone’s home country under the cover of asymptomatic spread.

There are two extremes on the scale of probability. The best outcome anyone can hope for at this point is that with the screening program in place, only a few people will get infected or ill. A few Olympic stories will end badly. That’s already happening—athletes and the people who work with them have been denied a chance to compete in Tokyo because testing shows they’re infected. And on the far side of the scale is a super-evolutionary event that allows the development of an even more potent form of the virus and then puts it on hundreds of jet planes headed to every corner of the planet. For everyone wondering what the most likely outcome is, it’s like the Olympics, except only in the most terrifying way possible: It’s unpredictable.

This story originally appeared on

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Maker of dubious $56K Alzheimer’s drug offers cognitive test no one can pass



Enlarge / The exterior of the headquarters of biotechnology company Biogen in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Do you ever forget things, like a doctor’s appointment or a lunch date? Do you sometimes struggle to think of the right word for something common? Do you ever feel more anxious or irritable than you typically do? Do you ever feel overwhelmed when trying to make a decision?

If you answered “no, never” to all of those questions, there’s a possibility that you may not actually be human. Nevertheless, you should still talk to a doctor about additional cognitive screenings to check if you have Alzheimer’s disease. At least, that’s the takeaway from a six-question quiz provided, in part, by Biogen, the maker of an unproven, $56,000 Alzheimer’s drug.

The six questions include the four above, plus questions about whether you ever lose your train of thought or ever get lost on your way to or around a familiar place. The questions not only bring up common issues that perfectly healthy people might face from time to time, but the answers any quiz-taker provides are also completely irrelevant. No matter how you answer—even if you say you never experience any of those issues—the quiz will always prompt you to talk with your doctor about cognitive screening. The results page even uses your zip code to provide a link to find an Alzheimer’s specialist near you.

Biogen says the quiz website is part of a “disease awareness educational program.” But it appears to be part of an aggressive strategy to sell the company’s new Alzheimer’s drug, Aduhelm, which has an intensely controversial history, to say the least.

The drug flunked out of two identical Phase III clinical trials in 2019 before Biogen submitted it to the Food and Drug Administration for approval. FDA statisticians firmly panned the drug, saying the post hoc trial data did not indicate that it’s effective against Alzheimer’s. A panel of expert advisors for the FDA overwhelmingly voted against approval. Still, the FDA approved it on June 7 and, shortly after, Biogen announced the drug’s list price of $56,000 for a year’s supply.

Medical experts and industry watchers immediately rebuked the approval and the price. Three FDA advisors resigned in protest. A watchdog group called for FDA officials to resign or face firing. Lawmakers opened a Congressional investigation into Biogen’s relationship with the FDA prior to the approval. The acting FDA commissioner likewise called for an independent investigation into the approval. Several hospital systems say they won’t administer Aduhelm, and several health insurance companies say they won’t cover it.

“A great strategy for increasing Aduhelm prescriptions”

Nevertheless, on Thursday, Biogen Head of Research and Development Alfred Sandrock chalked up the controversy to “misinformation and misunderstanding.” In a call with investors reported by Stat News, Biogen CEO Michel Vounatsos seemed to blame that “misinformation” on journalists specifically. According to the report, Jay Olson, an investment analyst at Oppenheimer, kicked off this eyebrow-raising exchange:

“It seems like ever since March of 2019, Biogen’s been the target of constant assault from the media and other groups, which obviously intensified on June 7, when Aduhelm was approved,” Olson said. “What do you suppose it is about Alzheimer’s disease that causes the media to react so negatively to a drug that could actually help patients and their families and not treat them with the same respect that is rightly shown to victims of other diseases like cancer?”

“You are absolutely right in your question and your description of what we are exposed to,” Vounatsos replied. “But we are not the ones suffering the most. It is still the early days in the launch. It is still the beginning. And whatever the motives of the controversy are, the ones that are potentially misled, confused, denied help are the patients.”

It’s unclear if Biogen’s attempt to redirect blame and belittle the controversy will be successful. But the company’s direct-to-patient marketing strategy has already drawn the ire of medical professionals. Experts note that the company’s quiz website and other advertisements claim that “about 1 in 12 Americans 50 years and older” has mild cognitive impairment, which is due to Alzheimer’s. Experts say they know of no evidence to back up that “1 in 12” statistic, however, and it appears to be a significant overestimate. Moreover, mild cognitive impairment has many causes—such as depression and side effects from medications—but Alzheimer’s isn’t a common one. In fact, mild cognitive impairment often remains stable over time or disappears, unlike Alzheimer’s, which is progressive.

In a commentary piece published in the Baltimore Sun last week, two medical experts from Georgetown University blasted the company’s quiz website, which aims to identify mild cognitive impairment in an effort to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease.

The website “appears designed to ratchet up anxiety in anyone juggling multiple responsibilities or who gets distracted during small talk,” they wrote. “Convincing perfectly normal people they should see a specialist, be tested for amyloid plaque, and, if present, assume they have early Alzheimer’s is a great strategy for increasing Aduhelm prescriptions… [It] could lead to millions of prescriptions—and billions of dollars in profit—for an ineffective and expensive drug.”

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