Today's News and Commentary

About the public’s health

Grape or grain but never the twain? A randomized controlled multiarm matched-triplet crossover trial of beer and wine: To start your weekend…Now research has proven it doesn’t matter if you drink wine before beer, or vice versa- as long as you drink responsibly.

Read the research (if you need to be convinced)

About insurance

Why Consumers ChooseShort-Term Health Insurance: This survey by eHealth delves into who buys short term policies, why they make this choice and how they use their benefits. It is an interesting read, One big surprise is that people ages 55-64 are more likely to buy these policies than those in younger age groups. The reason is premium affordability- which is a tradeoff for coverage.

Read the survey results

Trump Administration Weighs Publicizing Secret Rates Hospitals and Doctors Negotiate With Insurers: As of January 1, hospitals are required to disclose their “list prices.” But these figures are meaningless because the vast majority of payments are according to contractual rates (or mandates in the cases of Medicare and Medicaid). The next step in federal calls for hospital price transparency is to have them reveal their contractual pricing with insurance companies. Still, individuals will be left to figure out what they will owe given the terms of their insurance policies. What is really needed is a calculator for patients with specific insurance policies to know what they will end up paying if they get care from a specific provider.

Read the article (Wall St Journal but appears to be open access)

About pharma

Two Medicare payment strategies to improve price competition and value for Part B drugs: Reference pricing and binding arbitration: MedPAC has joined the call to look for ways to reduce Part B drug spending by calling for its Commissioners to comment about reference pricing and binding arbitration at its full meeting the month.

Read the meeting brief

EMA Shuts Down London Office for Move to Amsterdam: In advance of the impending Brexit, the European Medicines Agency has completed its planned London office closing and is opening in Amsterdam.

Read the announcement

Johnson & Johnson, ViiV report positive data for once-monthly injectable HIV regimen combining Edurant, cabotegravir: HIV treatments have been complex cocktails of drugs, initially requiring multiple daily doses. If this regimen proves successful it would be a truly disruptive innovation. This treatment would not only be more convenient but also enhance monitoring of non-compliant patients.

Read the article

New target for chronic pain relief confirmed by scientists-Scientists observe drug target that can reduce pain when activated: New research from the University of Hiroshima gives hope for a novel pain control mechanism." “Previous research had shown that activating a type of cell receptor (REV-ERBs) that sends chemical signals inside the cell to block the production of certain genes regulates pain-causing and inflammatory molecules inside the body.” Turning on this gene in mice lowered pain. It is not clear if therapies would be stand-alone or used to reduce use of other drugs.

Read the research

Statement from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., on FDA's steps on naming of biological medicines to balance competition and safety for patients receiving these products: The FDA is trying to balance the need for information about which drugs are biosimilars against an implication that they are inferior to the original branded medication. This announcement explains changes in how medications will be named to accomplish both purposes.

Read the announcement

About devices

Hidden FDA Reports Detail Harm Caused By Scores Of Medical Devices: READ THIS STORY. The essence of the report is that: “The FDA has built and expanded a vast and hidden repository of reports on device-related injuries and malfunctions, a Kaiser Health News investigation shows. Since 2016, at least 1.1 million incidents have flowed into the internal “alternative summary reporting” repository, instead of being described individually in the widely scrutinized public database known as MAUDE, which medical experts trust to identify problems that could put patients in jeopardy.”

Read the story