Today's News and Commentary

About pharma

FDA ready to crack down as Novartis reveals manipulated Zolgensma data: BREAKING NEWS Today, Novartis revealed that it manipulated data in its drug application for the gene therapy drug  Zolgensma. You will recall that, at $2.125million, it is the most expensive treatment on the market for any condition. The FDA is still deciding what to do with its already-granted approval.

Drug industry urges Canada to act early on U.S. import plan: Innovative Medicines Canada (IMC), their equivalent of our PhRMA, has issued recommendations to the Canadian government to prevent shortages in that country that would result from American importation of pharmaceuticals.

Pentagon eyeing Chinese production of tainted 'sartan' API as trade war grows: Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) are the basic materials that make up pharmaceuticals. Most of these agents, as well as the raw materials that go into their manufacture, are produced abroad- particularly in China. A Chinese manufacturer of “sartan” drugs, used in antihypertensives, has been found to be supplying contaminated ingredients. The Pentagon has gotten involved because many active duty military are taking these medications. The situation may get worse (even without such tainting) if the trade war between our countries heats up even further.

Drug Price Forecast : This report is Vizient’s annual research on drug prices. Out of many findings is that their client’s pharma costs will continue to rise (by about 5%) and 90% of the top drugs (by spending) will be biologics. The obvious importance of development of more biosimilars is highlighted.

About the public’s health

Screening for Pancreatic Cancer US Preventive Services Task Force Reaffirmation Recommendation Statement: “The USPSTF found no evidence that screening for pancreatic cancer or treatment of screen-detected pancreatic cancer improves disease-specific morbidity or mortality, or all-cause mortality.” Early detection of this disease should be a top priority of cancer research.

2019’s Best & Worst States for Health Care: The annual WalletHub state rankings are out and Minnesota is on top. Composite scores are comprised of cost, access and outcome scores. Read the article to find out where your state ranks. Is there consistency among the three metrics?

About healthcare IT

Telemedicine May Boost Unnecessary Antibiotic Prescribing in Kids: One reason for this finding is that: “Getting an antibiotic prescription… was the strongest single predictor of satisfaction, and a physician's antibiotic prescribing rate was highly correlated with their overall satisfaction ratings…” Should we measure patient satisfaction for those visits if it leads to worse clinical behavior?

About health insurance

TRICARE families report worse access to care than commercially insured, uninsured: study: This article summarizes a report in Health Affairs (which is available only by subscription). The research compares access for beneficiaries covered by TRICARE (insurance for families of active military) with private and other public insurance plans. The headline tells the story.

Patients’ preferences over care settings for minor illnesses and injuries (Be patient, the site loads slowly): How do patients make choices about where to obtain care? Do financial considerations play a part? This research found that:

“Out‐of‐pocket costs and wait time had minimal impact on patient's preference for site of care. Choices were driven primarily by the clinical scenario and patient characteristics. For chronic conditions and children's well‐visits, the doctor's office was the preferred choice by a strong majority, but for most acute conditions, either the ER (for high severity) or urgent care clinics (for lower severity) were preferred to the office setting, particularly among younger patients and those with less education.” The authors concluded that the “low impact of out‐of‐pocket costs suggests that insurers interested in encouraging increased utilization of alternatives would need to consider substantial changes to benefit structure.”