Today's News and Commentary

About pharma

Cell-based screen identifies a new potent and highly selective CK2 inhibitor for modulation of circadian rhythms and cancer cell growth: Don’t be put off by the technical title. This research demonstrates that cancer cells go through circadian rhythms (like human sleep-wake cycles) and that chemically interrupting these rhythms can help kill them. Cancer treatments are advancing beyond standard chemotherapy.

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South Africa’s drug ATMs offer formula to treat chronic illness: In addition to cost, access is often a problem for people who need medications. This example from South Africa provides one solution- drug dispensing from an ATM-like machine.

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Pharma firms to be incentivised to develop new superbug drugs: British Health secretary Matt Hancock is to announce his country’s plans to encourage appropriate use of antibiotics. The statement will be at the at World Economic Forum in Davos, so it will have an international audience. Details are not clear yet but will involve paying for pharmaceuticals based on their value rather than volume sold. This change will also hopefully increase research into medicines that will combat drug-resistant bacteria.

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About insurance

38 hospitals sue HHS over site-neutral payment policy: After CMS issued its final rule to pay the same fees regardless of where the service is rendered, 38 hospitals sued HHS saying it overstepped its authority. The issue is that hospitals claim they should be paid more than, for example a physician’s office, for performing the same service. Hospitals have used this differential payment to fund their purchase of physicians’ practices- raising charges after the acquisition. The government claims hospitals should provide services as efficiently as the outpatient sector.

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About devices

FDA finalizes new 510(k) guidance, shifts away from aging predicate devices: The comment period is over and the FDA has announced its new guidelines for approving devices under the 510(k) process. In the past, applications for a device’s approval could cite its similarity to a previously approved product (predicate). But those products could be outdated and the new one could have significant changes. The new criteria require “objective, transparent and well validated safety and performance metrics.”

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About the public’s health

NCQA Launches New Population Health Management Programs: The statement was posted to the NCQA website last month but only made the news today. This organization announced two new programs to accredit population health programs using the following measures: Data integration; Population assessment; Population segmentation; Targeted interventions; Practitioner support; and Measurement and quality improvement.

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About insurance

Poll: 56 percent of public supports 'Medicare for all': This poll highlights the principle that the answer you get depends on the question you ask. “When people are told that Medicare for all would ‘guarantee health insurance as a right for all Americans,’ support shoots up to 71 percent. But when people are told that the proposal would ‘require most Americans to pay more in taxes,’ support plummets to just 37 percent.”

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About Information technology

More Funds, Better Data Needed to Help Medicaid Patients: Identifying social determinant-based needs is essential before those needs can be addressed. However, the data is not being routinely captured. ICD-10 codes Z56 and Z59 can be used to identify patients who have “ issues with employment and with homelessness/food insecurity/other social needs, respectively.” This article stresses the need to gather such data using those codes.

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