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Lottery ticket worth $5 million sold in Longview; prize unclaimed
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A lottery ticket worth about $5 million was recently sold in Longview, and the prize on Monday had not yet been claimed.

The Lotto Texas ticket bought at EZ Bee49, 514 S. Eastman Road, matched all six numbers for a drawing that took place Saturday, according to a release from the Texas Lottery Commission. The cash value option was selected at the time of purchase, which means the winner will receive $3,755,592.41 before taxes.

The winner has 180 days from the date of the drawing to claim the prize.

Christina Cooper has worked at the store, which she calls Corner Market, that sold the lucky ticket for about the past six months.

“The lotto in general is really popular here,” Cooper said Monday just hours after the state commission released the news about the $5 million ticket sold at her store. “We sell about 150 lotto tickets a day here, which comes out to about $4,000 a day.”

Cooper said it is common for customers to win with scratch-off tickets bought at the store, but she was not aware of any previous winners on the bi-weekly number drawings.

Customers made sure on Sunday morning that the Longview store was aware the business had sold a Texas Lotto Pick 6 lottery ticket worth $5 million, Cooper said.

“There is a website that people that really play the lotto check, and they saw it posted that a winning ticket had been sold here,” she said. “They came in first thing Sunday morning and told us about it.”

She said $500 is the largest amount a store can pay for lottery winnings and that winners who claim larger prizes need to travel to a Texas Lottery Claim Center in Tyler.

“With a jackpot winner in each of the last two draws, Lotto Texas has been on quite a run,” said Gary Grief, executive director of the Texas Lottery. “If you have the winning ticket, we encourage you to sign the ticket, put it in a safe place, seek financial and legal advice, and call the Texas Lottery to schedule an appointment to claim the prize. We look forward to meeting our newest Lotto Texas jackpot winner.”

Lotto Texas is played by picking six numbers from one to 54 and offers multimillion-dollar jackpots. Drawings are held every Wednesday and Saturday at 10:12 p.m. For $1 more per play, a player can select the Extra! add-on feature for a chance to win up to $10,000 more on non-jackpot prizes.

In September, a Longview resident claimed a top $5 million prize in a Texas Lottery scratch-off game.

The resident, who the Texas Lottery said in a statement opted to remain anonymous, bought the ticket at Lil Tommy’s Gas & Go at U.S. 259 and George Richey Road north of Longview.

The winnings came on the $50 scratch-off ticket, Premier Play game.


FDA approves much-debated Alzheimer's drug panned by experts
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WASHINGTON — Government health officials on Monday approved the first new drug for Alzheimer’s disease in nearly 20 years, disregarding warnings from independent advisers that the much-debated treatment hasn’t been shown to help slow the brain-destroying disease.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the drug from Biogen based on study results showing it seemed “reasonably likely” to benefit Alzheimer’s patients. It’s the only therapy that U.S. regulators have said can likely treat the underlying disease, rather than manage symptoms like anxiety and insomnia.

The decision, which could impact millions of Americans and their families, is certain to spark disagreements among physicians, medical researchers and patient groups. It also has far-reaching implications for the standards used to evaluate experimental therapies, including those that show only incremental benefits.

The new drug, which Biogen developed with Japan’s Eisai Co., did not reverse mental decline, only slowing it in one study. The medication, aducanumab, will be marketed as Aduhelm and is to be given as an infusion every four weeks.

Dr. Caleb Alexander, an FDA adviser who recommended against the drug’s approval, said he was “surprised and disappointed” by the decision.

“The FDA gets the respect that it does because it has regulatory standards that are based on firm evidence. In this case, I think they gave the product a pass,” said Alexander, a medical researcher at Johns Hopkins University.

The FDA’s top drug regulator acknowledged that “residual uncertainties” surround the drug, but said Aduhelm’s ability to reduce harmful clumps of plaque in the brain is expected to help slow dementia.

“The data supports patients and caregivers having the choice to use this drug,” Dr. Patrizia Cavazzoni told reporters. She said the FDA carefully weighed the input of people living with the “devastating, debilitating and deadly disease.”

Under terms of the so-called accelerated approval, the FDA is requiring Biogen to conduct a follow-up study to confirm benefits for patients. If the study fails to show effectiveness, the FDA could pull the drug from the market, though the agency rarely does so.

Biogen said the drug would cost approximately $56,000 for a typical year’s worth of treatment, and said the price would not be raised for four years. Most patients won’t pay anywhere near that thanks to insurance coverage and other discounts. The company said it aims to complete the FDA-mandated follow-up trial by 2030.

Biogen shares jumped 38% in trading Monday on the news, with analysts forecasting billions in future sales. The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company plans to begin shipping millions of doses within two weeks.

The non-profit Institute for Clinical and Economic Review, which studies drug value, said Biogen’s drug would have to halt dementia entirely to justify its $56,000 per-year price tag.

Some 6 million people in the U.S. and many more worldwide have Alzheimer’s, which gradually attacks areas of the brain needed for memory, reasoning, communication and basic daily tasks. In the final stages of the disease, those afflicted lose the ability to swallow. The global burden of the disease, the most common cause of dementia, is only expected to grow as millions more baby boomers progress further into their 60s and 70s.

Aducanumab (pronounced “add-yoo-CAN-yoo-mab”) helps clear a protein called beta-amyloid from the brain. Other experimental drugs have done that but they made no difference in patients’ ability to think, care for themselves or live independently.

The pharmaceutical industry’s drug pipeline has been littered for years with failed Alzheimer’s treatments. The FDA’s greenlight Monday is likely to revive investments in therapies previously shelved by drugmakers.

The new medicine is manufactured from living cells and will be given via infusion at a doctor’s office or hospital.

Researchers don’t fully understand what causes Alzheimer’s but there’s broad agreement the brain plaque targeted by aducanumab is just one contributor. Evidence suggests family history, education and chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease may all play a role.

“This is a sign of hope but not the final answer,” said Dr. Richard Hodes, director of the National Institute on Aging, which wasn’t involved in the Biogen studies but funds research into how Alzheimer’s forms. “Amyloid is important but not the only contributing factor.”

Patients taking aducanumab saw their thinking skills decline 22% more slowly than patients taking a placebo.

But that meant a difference of just 0.39 on an 18-point score of cognitive and functional ability. And it’s unclear how such metrics translate into practical benefits, like greater independence or ability to recall important details.

The FDA’s review of the drug has become a flashpoint in longstanding debates over standards used to evaluate therapies for hard-to-treat conditions. On one side, groups representing Alzheimer’s patients and their families say any new therapy — even one of small benefit — warrants approval. But many experts warn that greenlighting the drug could set a dangerous precedent, opening the door to treatments of questionable benefit.

The approval came despite a scathing assessment in November by the FDA’s outside panel of neurological experts. The group voted “no” to a series of questions on whether reanalyzed data from a single study submitted by Biogen showed the drug was effective.

Biogen halted two studies in 2019 after disappointing results suggested aducanumab would not meet its goal of slowing mental and functional decline in Alzheimer’s patients.

Several months later, the company reversed course, announcing that a new analysis of one study showed the drug was effective at higher doses and the FDA had advised that it warranted review. Company scientists said the drug’s initial failure was due to some patients not receiving high enough doses to slow the disease.

But the changes to dosing and the company’s after-the-fact analysis made the results hard to interpret, raising skepticism among many experts, including those on the FDA panel.

The FDA isn’t required to follow the advice of its outside panelists and has previously disregarded their input when making similarly high-profile drug decisions.

About 900 U.S. medical facilities are ready to begin prescribing the drug, according to Biogen, with many more expected in coming months. But key practical questions remain: How long do patients benefit? How do physicians determine when to discontinue the drug? Does the drug have any benefit in patients with more advanced dementia?

With FDA approval, aducanumab is almost certain to be covered by most insurers, including Medicare, the government plan for seniors that covers more than 60 million people.

Insurers could try to manage the drug’s costs by requiring strict conditions, including brain scans to confirm plaque, before agreeing to cover it.

Additional scans will be needed to monitor potential side effects. The drug carries a warning about temporary brain swelling that can sometimes cause headaches, confusion and dizziness. Other side effects included allergic reactions, diarrhea and disorientation.

Although Biogen studied the drug in people with mild dementia or early-stage Alzheimer’s, the FDA label approved the drug for anyone with Alzheimer’s, a sweeping population given doctors have broad leeway in diagnosing the condition.

“The FDA is empowering the physician to make the decision on diagnosis,” Biogen CEO Michel Vounatsos said in an interview.

For patients already enrolled in Biogen’s trials, Monday’s announcement means they can continue taking a drug many believe has helped.

Phillip Lynn, 63, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in the spring of 2017 after having trouble with conversation and memory, including forgetting a recent vacation to Hawaii.

His husband Kurt Rehwinkel says Lynn’s cognitive ability has stabilized since starting on Biogen’s drug more than three years ago. And his performance on short-term memory tests has actually improved, though the couple acknowledges most patients are unlikely to see similar results.

“But even for those who it has little or no effect, I think hope is a good thing,” said Rehwinkel. “I don’t think there’s such a thing as false hope.”


'A lot of anxiety' for Democrats as Biden agenda stalls
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WASHINGTON — Hopes for a big infrastructure investment are teetering. An ambitious elections and voting bill is all but dead. Legislation on police brutality, gun control and immigration has stalled out.

After six months of Democratic control in Washington, the party’s progressive wing is growing increasingly restless as campaign promises go undone — blocked not only by Republican obstruction, but also by Democrats’ own inability to unite fully around priorities.

The time ahead is pivotal for President Joe Biden and his allies in Congress to seize what some view as a transformative moment to rebuild the economy and reshape the country.

“There’s a lot of anxiety,” said Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Ca., who had been a co-chair of Bernie Sanders’ presidential bid. “It’s a question really for President Biden: What kind of president does he want to be?”

The summer work period is traditionally among the busiest for Congress, but especially sharpened this year as Democrats strain to deliver on Biden’s agenda. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer warned colleagues that June will “test our resolve” as senators returned Monday with infrastructure talks dragging and the limits of bipartisanship in the 50-50 Senate increasingly clear.

The party suffered a debilitating blow over the weekend when Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., announced his opposition to the voting bill, titled S.1 because it is a top party priority. Many Democrats view it as crucial to protecting democracy and a direct response to restrictive new voting laws being passed in Republican-led states egged on by Donald Trump, the former president.

“Do I feel discouraged? Yes,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, warning of a failure of deliver on the promises. “We will lose voters for a generation.”

Schumer, in setting the agenda, is challenging senators to prepare to make tough choices. But he is also facing a test of his own ability to lead the big-tent party through a volatile period of shifting priorities and tactics in the aftermath of the Trump era and the Capitol insurrection.

While Democratic senators have been generating goodwill by considering bipartisan bills in the evenly split Senate, they face mounting pressure from voters who put them in office to fight harder for legislation that Republicans are determined to block with the filibuster. Democrats hold the edge in the Senate because Vice President Kamala Harris can break a voting tie.

Fed up by the delays, some senators are ready to change the rules to eliminate the filibuster, which they blame for the inaction. The long-running Senate filibuster rules require 60 votes to advance most legislation, meaning as many as 10 Republicans would need to cross party lines to help Democrats achieve their priorities. Some senators propose reducing the voting threshold to 51.

But Manchin, in announcing his opposition to the voting rights bill Sunday as the “wrong piece of legislation to bring our country together,” also restated his refusal to end the filibuster — for now, denying his party a crucial vote needed to make the rules change that could help advance its agenda. On Tuesday, leading civil rights figures including Rev. Al Sharpton and Marc Morial are scheduled to meet with Manchin in Washington. Biden urged them to visit the senator to discuss the voting bill and the legislative agenda. He encouraged them to keep the conversation constructive and not put pressure the senator — at least not yet, according to a person familiar with the discussion but not authorized to speak about private conversations.

While Manchin has talked about supporting another voting bill, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, advocates of S.1 say both pieces of legislation are needed. Biden agrees Congress should move forward with both, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday.

At the same time, Democratic groups supporting S.1 vowed to continue with a $30 million campaign pressing Democratic senators to rewrite filibuster rules and pass the bill — including with TV ads in Manchin’s West Virginia.

But it’s not just Manchin who opposes changing the filibuster laws. Without support from him or other filibuster defenders, like Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., Democratic senators will be forced to confront the limits of their fragile majority. If Democrats decided to go it alone on the big infrastructure bill, as talks with Republican senators stall, they would need to be unified because they would have no votes to spare.

Failing to deliver on campaign promises that are popular with voters could exacerbate party divisions and expose Democrats to criticism from their own ranks as well as from Republicans eager to show that Biden’s party cannot govern.

“We need to move the ball,” said Yvette Simpson, CEO of Democracy for America, a liberal advocacy organization.

“We told everyone to come out against all odds in the pandemic and vote,” she said about the 2020 election. The promise was that with Democrats in power, “we’re going to have all these great things happen, their lives are going to be better. And what they’re finding is that it looks like Washington as usual.”

Schumer has been laying the groundwork for this moment since he became majority leader in January, trying to build the case that bipartisanship can work in some cases — with passage of an Asian hate crimes bill or a water public works package. But he also recognizes that it has limits, according to two Democratic aides granted anonymity to discuss the private strategy.

The Democrats’ weekly closed-door policy caucus lunches have been intense, particularly during the two special sessions they have held to privately debate the path forward on the voting rights bill, one of the aides said.

Rather than force reluctant senators to fall in line, Schumer is trying to lead Democrats to their own conclusion — either bipartisan deals with Republicans are possible or they have no choice but to go it alone on infrastructure or other priorities, the aides said.

One aide suggested Schumer is no arm-twisting leader in the style of Lyndon Johnson, who before he became president was famous for his hardball cajoling as majority leader.

Khanna said the president, however, can have a big role. “This would be his LBJ moment — can he pick up the phone and work his magic to get his Democrats on board?”


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