Today's News and Commentry

About the public’s health

War on diabetes: Unhealthy label for high-sugar drinks, total ban on ads to be introduced in Singapore: At least one country is serious about this public health problem.

Trump EPA proposes overhaul of lead in drinking water rule, critics call plan weak: However, critics say “the rule slows down the removal of service lines where levels exceed 15 parts per billion to 33 years from the 13 years in the original rule.”

Lung function decline in former smokers and low-intensity current smokers: a secondary data analysis of the NHLBI Pooled Cohorts Study: Mark Twain is supposed to have said: “Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I've done it thousands of times.” The “common wisdom” has been that lungs of former smokers can return to some baseline normal level after quitting. However, this study found that: “Former smokers and low-intensity current smokers have accelerated lung function decline compared with never-smokers. These results suggest that all levels of smoking exposure are likely to be associated with lasting and progressive lung damage.”

When a Steady Paycheck Is Good Medicine: “Forty-one nonprofit medical systems across the United States, plus four government providers, have formed the coalition, the Healthcare Anchor Network, with the mission of doing more business with local companies in the communities they serve. Most are concentrated in major American cities, from Chicago to Los Angeles.
The American health network is part of a global movement through which activists are pressuring companies to target spending toward improving local fortunes, rather than contracting with distant corporations.”

About health insurance

With health care costs projected to rise another 5% in 2020, employers look to new strategies to control costs: This 24th annual Best Practices in Health Care Employer Survey from Willis Towers Watson found that curbing “the cost of health care and increasing its affordability remain the top priorities for almost all employers over the next three years (93%).” Three strategies employers will use are controlling pharmaceutical costs (particularly high cost specialty drugs); implementing value-based programs; and focusing on employee well-being.

Government Watchdog Faults Trump Administration’s Approval of Medicaid Work Requirements (Wall Street Journal- subscription required): “The Trump administration has approved states’ plans to impose work requirements on people who get Medicaid even though estimated implementation costs are in the hundreds of millions of dollars,” according to a Government Accountability Office report.

About pharma

FDA guidance aims for loophole to avoid rebates: “FDA has completed a draft guidance that would create a legal loophole for drug companies to bypass legal commitments to pay rebates to PBMs and payers. The guidance, which is under review at the Office of Management and Budget, is intended to allow companies to sell drugs at net prices that don’t include rebate payments. 
If and when it is implemented, HHS believes the guidance would enable drug companies to create a parallel market that would function alongside regular supply chains. In this separate channel, imported drugs could be sold at lower list prices to patients who are uninsured or who have large deductibles. 
The guidance could also give companies the ability to free themselves from long-term contracts and negotiate new contracts for distributing drugs through conventional supply chains.”
The tracking of imported medications can be done through newly issued National Drug Codes (NDCs).This process has the potential to be a major disrupter of supply chains and how the pharma business is conducted.