News & Commentary

Better utilization management might be needed to help contain the costs of chronic pain treatment, according to a study in Pain Practice. The main culprit, say researchers with Pfizer, is an overuse of outpatient services driving both pharmacy and imaging costs.

News & Commentary

Only 1 in 4 PCPs in the United States are prepared to care for patients with complex chronic care conditions. On the other hand, a larger percentage of doctors in the United States (60%, more than twice as high as the other countries) provide online access medical records.

Tomorrow’s Medicine
Thomas Morrow, MD

This newest asthma medication, about two decades in development, offers millions new hope. It’s costly, with an announced wholesale acquisition price of $2,500 per dose, which works out to about $32,500 a year. Another in a growing list of expensive medications to test payer resourcefulness.

Review Article
Daniel Hilleman, PharmD
Aiman Smer, MBBCh

Omega-3 fatty acids (OM3-FA) dietary supplements should not be substituted for prescription OM3-FA products. The FDA-approved prescription OM3-FA products are supported by robust clinical development and safety monitoring programs, say researchers at Creighton University.

News & Commentary

There was a 17% drop in hospital-acquired conditions (HACs) between 2010 and 2014, according to data collected by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. That translates into 2.1 million fewer HACs for hospital patients and about 87,000 fewer patients dying over those years.

News & Commentary
Penalties for readmission of some Medicare patients within 30 days of discharge have been applauded for driving down costs. However, a Wall Street Journal investigation last month revealed that many patients return, often for days, under observation status, which does not trigger the ACA penalties.
Legislation & Regulation
Richard Mark Kirkner

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Congress is holding hearings to probe how drug companies set their prices and proposing legislation that’s aimed at reining in spending on pharmaceuticals. Whether this leads to any meaningful reforms is anyone’s guess, especially when you take into account partisan divisions in a presidential election year.

Richard Mark Kirkner

Sabrina Corlette, Georgetown University

State and federal regulators want to make sure that patients have access to the care they need even as some health plans sold on ACA exchanges limit provider options for patients. This tough balance can be struck, and insurers can help themselves by monitoring their panels on an ongoing basis.

Viewpoint
Andrew J. Haig, MD

Not only is chronic back pain one of the most devastating and costly disorders our society faces, but doctors hate it. PCPs tire of ongoing arguments over narcotic treatment with patients who are often depressed and/or unemployed. A team approach featuring physiatrists can change the dynamic.

Cancer Watch
Peter Wehrwein

Ronald DePinho, MD

President Obama called for a “cancer moonshot” to cure the disease. What will that take? MD Anderson has some experience with this sort of ambitious effort, and its president, Ronald DePinho, MD, has some can-do suggestions to make it work.