Today's News and Commentary

About the public’s Health

Ten threats to global health in 2019: This list from the WHO ranges from the very specific (Dengue) to general system issues (weak primary care systems). Perhaps these threats will provide opportunities for entrepreneurs.

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Seven in 10 Maintain Negative View of U.S. Healthcare System: In the latest Gallup poll, 70% of those surveys said the US healthcare system was in crisis or had major problems. Of not is that this figure has been largely unchanged for the past 14 years. A surprising finding is that despite Republican calls to dismantle the ACA and Democratic attempts to protect it, 84% of democrats have a negative view of the system while only 56% of Republicans share that opinion. Of course peoples’ opinions about “the system” have always been at odds with their personal experiences.

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CVS pledges $100 million for community health programs: On the heels of its purchase of Aetna, CVS is launching Building Healthier Communities “ to improve access to affordable health care, manage health challenges like chronic conditions and opioids and partner with communities.” CVS has been very proactive about health initiatives- recall the company removed cigarettes from its stores for health reasons.

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FDA resuming some food inspections halted by shutdown: As previously reported, because of the budget impasse, the FDA stopped inspecting domestic food plants. The agency announced that it will resume inspections for such “high risk” items as cheeses, produce and infant formula.

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About pharma

Want to win over payers, pharma? Forget the 'me-too' drugs, CSL chief says:The title of the article says it all: be innovative if you want payers to support your R&D pipeline. One tactic not mentioned is to ask payers what they need for their members.

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Effect of Medication Co-payment Vouchers on P2Y12 Inhibitor Use and Major Adverse Cardiovascular Events Among Patients With Myocardial Infarction: Platelet inhibitors (like Plavix) are used to prevent recurring heart attacks and strokes. These medicines can be costly, however. In this study, investigators found that use of coupons to help with expenses “increased persistence with a guideline-recommended therapy but did not improve clinical outcomes at 1 year.” Pharma marketers claim coupons increase affordability so patients will fill their prescriptions and improve their health. We need to see a longer term effect of coupons before the practice is stopped for lack of healthcare improvement evidence.

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Analysis of Proposed Medicare Part B to Part D Shift With Associated Changes in Total Spending and Patient Cost-Sharing for Prescription Drugs:One way the federal government has tried to save Medicare from going bankrupt is by playing a shell game- shifting benefits from one part to another. The latest is a proposal to shift some Medicare Part B pharmaceutical costs to Part D. Drugs now under Part B include those administered in a physician’s office (like chemotherapy or immune system modulating medications); they are subject to a 20% coinsurance covered by supplemental insurance policies. Part D is the self-administered drug program purchased by Medicare beneficiaries and subject to different types of out of pocket expenses, depending on the plan.
This study’s results say that the government will save money by making these changes but they may cost patients more. The authors call for changes where both CMS and patients benefit.

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