Investigation of generic ‘cartel’ expands to 300 drugs:When is it not good to “play nicely in the sandbox?” If the sandbox is code for the the generic drug market and manufacturers are colluding to fix prices. Attorneys general from 47 states are suing at least 16 companies over anticompetitive behavior involving about 300 drugs.
Read more about these investigations
E.U. high court says Britain can unilaterally reverse Brexit, boosting pro-Europe campaigners:What does Brexit have to do with pharma? Among other functions, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) approves all biologicals for the E.U. market. With Brexit in the works, the EMA is moving from London to Amsterdam. I anticipate some disruption in this transition that will slow drug approvals. If Britain reverses itself on Brexit, the EMA will probably still move to Amsterdam. Perhaps all this uncertainty will create a rush to approval by biotech companies before the separation,
Read more about the E.U. high court decision
What These Medical Journals Don’t Reveal: Top Doctors’ Ties to Industry:Authors of medical journal articles are supposed to reveal any payments they receive from pharma companies whose products they mention in their studies. Despite this requirement, many prominent opinion leaders are not forthcoming with this information. The federal government has a website of physician payments form these companies- even as small as a lunch. However, most recent data is for 2017.
The questions that arise now are: Do we need stricter and more timely governmental reporting or can the private sector handle this problem?
CMS finalizes rule on the risk adjustment program for the 2018 benefit year: The ACA mandates that exchange health plans with healthier patients pay CMS; those amounts are used to compensate plans that care for sicker patients. The process is called “risk adjustment.” In February, a US District Court for the District of New Mexico issued a decision vacating the use of statewide average premiums as the basis for risk adjustments. Since then CMS has not acted on this program; but it has now issued its rules for this year. The decision is not permanent because litigation continues.
Trump administration could leverage waivers for state CON law repeals:The late Milton Roemer posited that “a built bed is a filled bed.” To avoid rising costs due to facility construction, federal and state governments enacted certificate of need (CON) laws. The federal government did away with them in the 1970s but thirty-six states and the District of Columbia still have CON laws in place. (Federal law still regulates physician-owned hospitals that want to construct or expand facilities.)
The federal government has issued a path for states to develop innovative insurance products- the 1332 waiver process. Apparently the process will be easier for states to get this waiver if they relax or repeal their CON laws/regulations.
Read more about the current status of state CONs and 1332 waivers
Studies Show Medicaid Expansion Is Improving Health, While Jury Still Out on Chronic Disease: Many claims have been made about health benefits due to the ACA’s Medicaid expansion. This article summarizes the data on this topic. While many short-term metrics have improved (such as smoking cessation and earlier cancer diagnoses), benefits from the expansion have yet to be shown for chronic disease.
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Hospital Beds Get Digital Upgrade: We have heard about “wearables” that can track respirations and heart rate, Now hospital bed manufacturer Hill-Rom has come up with a bed that does the same measurements up to 100 times an hour and be synched to an electronic medical record. These vital signs can save some patients from being disturbed when sleeping and free up nursing time. Like many of these “peripherals,” the system is open to hacking.