March 31, 2024
First Opinion Editor

I spent the week before Easter working on First Opinion from afar, specifically from the town of Carlinville, Illinois, population 5,500, a farming town that's the seat of Macoupin County. I've had the good fortune to witness how this small town has opened its arms to a refugee family in need. With help from Welcome U.S., dozens of individuals, families, and businesses have made it possible for a family displaced from Venezuela to make its way to, and settle into, an unfamiliar landscape of vast flat corn and soybean fields, pig farms, and grain silos, with a classic town square at its center. Those involved in this effort helped the family get housing, found jobs for the parents, and enrolled their smart and mischievous 6-year-old son in school; all are going through the intense and difficult process known as "learning English." I am so impressed by their hard work and drive to succeed.

If every city and town in the U.S. followed suit, it would put at least a small dent in the number of people displaced by conflicts around the world. "Don't look away," urges Sandro Galea, dean of Boston University's School of Public Health, in a recent essay. After seeing what one small town can do, I must agree — and promise to get involved in Boston, where I live.

Immigrant health and rural health have long been topics for First Opinion, and will certainly be again. This week, though, weight-loss drugs took center stage. Dr. Lisa Shah, an internist, took exception to Oprah Winfrey's recent "full-throated endorsement" of weight-loss drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy on national TV. Shah pointed out how the show skimmed over the side effects of these drugs, the need to take them for life, and questioned the long-term utility of medications that may calm not only cravings for food but also less harmful wants — a “quieting of the wanting mind” — like the joy of eating a meal with family. Other authors argued that primary care physicians should be central to diagnosing and treating Alzheimer's disease, chided Medicaid for its discriminatory waiting period for sterilization, and more. You can read them all here.

I'm always keen to read submissions for First Opinion. Please send them to me at

Oprah Winfrey speaking earlier this month during the 55th NAACP Image Awards in Los Angeles.
Paras Griffin/Getty Images for BET

Oprah kicked off a national conversation on obesity and GLP-1 drugs. Let’s have it

On national TV, Oprah endorsed the use of GLP-1 drugs like Wegovy and Ozempic for obesity. She didn't present the whole picture.

By Lisa Shah

Primary care physicians should be at the heart of treating Alzheimer’s

In navigating the Alzheimer's disease crisis, primary care providers should play key roles in cognitive testing and management.

By Katherine O'Malley

Methadone treatment has been reformed for the better. States shouldn’t go back to the old ways

The federal government made it easier for people to get and take methadone to fight opioid addiction. Some states are sabotaging that move.

By Rebecca Arden Harris and David S. Mandell


Eliminate the waiting period for sterilization covered by Medicaid

Medicaid's waiting period for sterilization, intended to right an egregious wrong, has outlived its usefulness and needs to be abolished.

By Amanda Masse and Nadi Nina Kaonga

The U.S. needs a bipartisan industrial policy for the life sciences

President Biden's efforts to revitalize the nation's technology-based industries should include industrial policy for the life sciences.

By James C. Robinson

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