Today's News and Commentary

About pharma

Cue the ‘revolving door’ criticism: Former FDA commissioner Gottlieb joins Pfizer’s board: Since retiring to spend more time with his family, former FDA director Gottlieb joined a VC firm and is now a Pfizer board member. He will also serve on the board's regulatory and compliance committee and its science and technology committee.

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American Pain Society Goes Belly Up: The Society filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the wake of accusations it was a front for opioid manufacturers.

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Pfizer gains FDA approval of Zirabev as a biosimilar of Roche's Avastin: The headline is self-explanatory. Generic competition with frequently-used, expensive medications is unfortunately not as common today as once hoped.

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Evaluating Open Payments: Five years into the requirement for pharma companies to furnish lists of physicians who received payments (or in kind gifts), the program is not fulfilling its promise to make people aware of potential conflicts their physicians may have. The reason? Patients do not look up the information.

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About the public’s health

Disease Watch: What Global Travelers Should Know In Summer 2019: If you are traveling abroad, you should check the CDC website for updates on local illness and prevention. This article is a nice overview of what is going on in different countries this summer.

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Trends in Health Equity in the United States by Race/Ethnicity, Sex, and Income, 1993-2017: The summary reveals that “there has been a clear lack of progress on health equity during the past 25 years in the United States.” The research looked at illness rather than mortality rates to derive its conclusions. One finding is that the rich are staying healthy while the poorer segment of the population is is getting sicker.

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U.S. federal court delays adoption of healthcare rule on abortion: “The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and its opponents in a California lawsuit agreed on Friday to delay implementing a rule that would allow medical workers to decline performing abortions or other treatments on moral or religious grounds, according to a federal court filing.” This case was about the “matter of conscience” refusals that would have been allowed pending court rulings.

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Kentucky law requiring ultrasounds before abortions will stand, federal appeals court says: The courts have usually ruled against some of the more restrictive recent abortion laws. This one is an exception.

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About hospitals and health systems

Sanford Health, UnityPoint to merge: 5 things to know:These two organizations have about $11 billion in combined revenue. This article is a nice summary of the scope and impact of this latest systems merger.

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About health insurance

Individual Insurance Market Performance in Early 2019: After 3 consecutive years of 1st quarter decreases in the medical loss ratio, this year it went up to 73% from a low of 68% last year. Except for that exceptional performance last year, this quarter’s results are still lower than any in the past 8 years.

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About healthcare quality and safety

Never Events Report 2019: In 2017, the Leapfrog Group asked hospitals to add four extra commitments regarding its “Never Event” program. This year’s report (which is is for actions through 2018) shows that addition of those promises resulted in drops in compliance for every category of hospitals. The “good news” is that all hospital categories did better using the old criteria.

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AHRQ unveils new database of patient safety events reported by PSOs: “The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has released its new Network of Patient Safety Databases [NPSD]…, the first public, online resource listing nonidentifiable information on patient safety events gathered by AHRQ-approved Patient Safety Organizations. NPSD data will be used to create dashboards and a chartbook designed to educate providers and others about patient safety events. These resources will include information on incident distribution, near misses, unsafe conditions and ways to reduce patient safety risk and harm across health systems.”

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