Scott Hensley

Scott Hensley edits stories about health, biomedical research and pharmaceuticals for NPR's Science desk. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he has led the desk's reporting on the development of vaccines against the coronavirus.

Hensley has worked on award-winning investigations in collaboration with journalistic partners.

He was the lead NPR editor on an investigation with the Center for Public Integrity in 2018 that exposed drug industry influence on the choices of preferred medicines by Medicaid programs. The work won the 2019 Gerald Loeb Award for audio reporting.

In 2017, Hensley was the lead NPR editor on an investigation with Kaiser Health News that showed how the pharmaceutical industry exploits government incentives intended to encourage the development of treatments for rare diseases. The stories won the 2019 digital award from the National Institute for Health Care Management.

Hensley has been editing in his current role since 2019. He joined NPR in 2009 to launch Shots, a blog that expanded to become a digital destination for NPR health coverage.

Before NPR, Hensley was a reporter and editor at The Wall Street Journal. He was the founding editor of The Wall Street Journal Health Blog, which focused on the intersection of health and business. As a reporter, he covered the drug industry and the Human Genome Project.

Hensley served on the board of the Association of Health Care Journalists from 2012 to 2020.

He has a bachelor's degree in natural sciences from Johns Hopkins University and a master's in journalism from Columbia University.

Before becoming a journalist, Hensley worked in the medical device industry. He remains, now and forever, a lover of Dobermans, lacrosse and Callinectes sapidus.

In a surprising vote, a panel of advisers to the Food and Drug Administration on Friday recommended against approval of a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for people 16 years and older.

The 16-2 vote against broad use of the booster, which would be given about six months after completion of the two-dose immunization regimen, dealt a setback to Pfizer and complicates the FDA's approach to boosters.

Updated September 15, 2021 at 1:51 PM ET

The Food and Drug Administration released an analysis by Pfizer on the need for a booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

Pfizer's analysis says data from Israel and the United States in the context of the delta variant suggests "that vaccine protection against COVID-19 infection wanes approximately 6 to 8 months following the second dose."

Updated August 23, 2021 at 12:52 PM ET

The Food and Drug Administration has formally approved Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine. The widely anticipated decision replaces the emergency use authorization granted by the agency last December.

The vaccine, developed by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech, is the first COVID-19 vaccine to be subject to a full review by the U.S. regulator and to get an approval that puts the vaccine on par with other marketed vaccines.

Updated June 7, 2021 at 3:11 PM ET

The Food and Drug Administration approved the drug aducanumab to treat patients with Alzheimer's disease on Monday. It is the first new drug approved by the agency for Alzheimer's disease since 2003.

Updated March 24, 2021 at 11:03 PM ET

AstraZeneca's latest data analysis affirms effectiveness of its COVID-19 vaccine and is roughly in line with the results released Monday.

A third COVID-19 vaccine is on the way, and this one requires only one shot for immunization.

The Food and Drug Administration authorized Johnson & Johnson's vaccine for emergency use Saturday, a day after a panel of advisers to the agency voted unanimously (22-0) in its favor.

In a unanimous 22-0 vote, a panel of advisers to the Food and Drug Administration recommended that the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson be authorized for emergency use in adults during the pandemic.

The vote in favor of the vaccine, which requires only one shot for protection, was taken to answer this question: Do the benefits of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine outweigh its risks for use in people 18 years of age and older.

The Food and Drug Administration released an analysis of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday morning that supports its authorization for emergency use.

On Friday, a panel of advisers to the agency will meet to evaluate the vaccine and make a recommendation about whether it should be given the OK. If the agency goes on to authorize the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, it would be the third, after those made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, to become available in the U.S.

A global study of nearly 44,000 found that the COVID-19 vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson is 66% effective in preventing moderate to severe disease.

The study was conducted in the U.S., Latin America and South Africa. The vaccine did better at preventing disease in the U.S. – 72% — and less well in South Africa – 57% efficacy. The efficacy seen in Latin America was 66%.

The biotech company Novavax says its COVID-19 vaccine is 89% effective at preventing the illness, according to an interim analysis of a large study conducted in the U.K.

The results come from a clinical trial involving more than 15,000 volunteers, of whom more than a quarter were older than 65.

The company says 62 cases of COVID-19 were seen in the study. Fifty-six occurred in the group that got placebo; six were seen in people who received the vaccine.

As the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines unfolds in the U.S., numerous questions around distribution, supply, hesitancy and efficacy persist. Experts from Harvard and the CDC will tackle these questions.

Watch an expert panel discussion on the effort to deploy against COVID-19 on Friday, Jan. 22, to be live-streamed here at 12 p.m. ET, as part of The Forum at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

You can email your questions to theforum@hsph.harvard.edu.

In a 20-0 vote, with one abstention, a panel of advisers to the Food and Drug Administration recommended that the COVID-19 vaccine being developed by Moderna be authorized for emergency use in adults during the pandemic.

If the agency authorizes the vaccine for emergency use, as is expected, it would become the second to be deployed in the U.S to fight the coronavirus.

The vote in favor of the vaccine was taken to answer the agency's question: Do the benefits of the Moderna vaccine outweigh its risks for use in people age 18 and older?

The Food and Drug Administration released a detailed analysis Tuesday morning of the COVID-19 vaccine from drugmaker Moderna that supports the authorization of the company's vaccine for emergency use.

The FDA's briefing document along with one from Moderna were posted two days before a group of experts will convene to advise the agency on whether to grant the vaccine emergency authorization for use, or EUA, during the pandemic.

Updated at 8:22 p.m. ET

In a 17-4 vote, with one abstention, a panel of advisers to the Food and Drug Administration recommended Thursday that the COVID-19 vaccine being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech be authorized for emergency use during the coronavirus pandemic.

The vote in favor of the vaccine was taken to answer the agency's question: Do the benefits of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine outweigh its risks for use in people age 16 and older?

The agency typically follows the advice of its expert advisers.

The Food and Drug Administration released a detailed analysis Tuesday morning of the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer and its partner BioNTech ahead of a Thursday meeting of a group of independent experts that will advise the agency on whether to grant the vaccine an emergency use authorization.

The race to find vaccines to protect people from COVID-19 is beginning to pay off.

Clinical trials of vaccines from Moderna and a partnership of Pfizer and BioNTech have now found their experimental vaccines to be highly effective.

Facebook and Twitter took measures to screen against misinformation after President Trump put posts on both sites that falsely claimed COVID-19 is less deadly than the flu in "most populations."

Facebook took down Trump's post, saying that users are not allowed to make false claims about the severity of the pandemic. The social network says the post broke its rules against harmful misinformation.

President Trump has drawn repeated comparisons between the novel coronavirus outbreak and the flu season.

"We have a lot of people dying from the flu on top of everything else," he said Monday. "It's very bad. It looks like it could be over 50,000."

The reality so far for the current flu season is still emerging. There have been at least 23,000 deaths from flu during the 2019-2020 season, according to estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The upper range of the estimate for deaths is 59,000.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

NOEL KING, HOST:

At some point nearly everyone has to deal with pain.

How do Americans experience and cope with pain that makes everyday life harder? We asked in the latest NPR-IBM Watson Health Poll.

First, we wanted to know how often pain interferes with people's ability to work, go to school or engage in other activities. Overall, 18% of Americans say that's often a problem for them. Almost a quarter – 24% — say it's sometimes the case.

Do you find yourself getting ticked off more often than you used to?

If the answer is yes, you're not alone.

Some 84% of people surveyed said Americans are angrier today compared with a generation ago, according to the latest NPR-IBM Watson Health poll.

When asked about their own feelings, 42% of those polled said they were angrier in the past year than they had been further back in time.

Anger can have an effect on health.

Sniffles, sore throats and fevers seem to be all around lately.

If things get bad enough for you or a loved one to seek care, what are your expectations about treatment? Do you want a prescription for an antibiotic if symptoms suggest an infection?

If you're not feeling well or have a routine health issue, do you go ahead and get it checked out or put if off because of the cost?

And, let's say you do make an appointment and go. Afterward, do you fill the prescription you received or do financial concerns stop you?

We wondered how often people deferred or skipped care because of cost, so we asked in the latest NPR-IBM Watson Health Health Poll. The survey queried more than 3,000 households nationwide in July.

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams made a plea in April for more Americans to be prepared to administer naloxone, an opioid antidote, in case they or people close to them suffer an overdose.

"The call to action is to recognize if you're at risk," Adams told NPR's Rachel Martin. "And if you or a loved one are at risk, keep within reach, know how to use naloxone."

Surgeon, author and checklist-evangelist Atul Gawande has been picked to lead the health care venture formed by online giant Amazon, conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway and banking juggernaut JPMorgan.

It's an interesting choice.

Gawande, a general and endocrine surgeon at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, is probably best known for his work writing about health care for The New Yorker and in books that include the influential Checklist Manifesto.

My mom is old-fashioned, so I got her flowers for Mother's Day. But there was no shortage of promotion for an alternative gift — a genetic test.

23andMe ran TV ads that urged people to "Celebrate Your Mom" by giving her a genetic test for Mother's Day. Better yet, take a test together, an ad suggested. Twenty percent off just for the occasion.

NPR and Kaiser Health News are undertaking a project to investigate and dissect real-life medical bills.

We expect that examining the bills will shed light on the often surprising prices for health care in the U.S.

Along the way, we're hoping to help people learn how to be more active and successful in managing the costs of their care.

When Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett and Jamie Dimon get together to make an announcement (any kind of announcement), it's sure to grab attention.