Infectious diseases are, unfortunately, making a comeback, and pharmaceutical manufacturers hope to address the problem. There are 394 drugs in the pipeline to fight these diseases, according to the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (http://tinyurl.com/infect-disease). In development are 226 drugs for viral infections, 124 for bacterial infections, 24 for fungal infections, and 15 for parasitic infections. . . . Nearly 3 of 5 patients at risk of losing their eyesight as a result of diabetes do not recall being alerted by their physicians to the danger, according to a study in JAMA Ophthalmology (http://tinyurl.com/opth-study). The problem can be easily treated, say researchers, but doctors can’t treat what they don’t know exists, and the best early warning system is patient feedback. . . . Patients may obtain their test results directly from the laboratory rather then wait for them to be filtered through treating physicians in hospitals or private practice, according to a new ruling by the Department of Health and Human Services. . . . Emergency department doctors brace for an influx of patients thanks to the Affordable Care Act — an influx they say that they’re not at all ready to handle (http://tinyurl.com/story-ED). The American College of Emergency Physicians gives the nation a “D+” in terms of how hospitals will be able to handle the demands that health reform will present. . . . Simplified dosing for HIV patients leads to better adherence and virologic suppression, according to a study in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases. The study also says that there isn’t much difference between once- and twice-daily dosages. Researchers conclude that dosage modification is only one way to boost adherence. . . . The idea that engaged patients will have better outcomes is challenged in a study in the British Medical Journal for Quality and Safety (http://tinyurl.com/engaged-patients). One of the problems is defining just what patient engagement means. “Definitions of patient and family engagement were lacking, as well as evidence regarding the types of patients who might feel comfortable engaging with providers, and in what contexts,” the study says. . . . Mental health patients are 4 to 16 times more likely to have HIV than the general population, according to a study in the American Journal of Public Health (http://tinyurl.com/Phil-Balt-study) that tracks about 1,000 patients who sought mental health treatment in Philadelphia and Baltimore. Researchers say the findings illustrate the need for routine HIV testing in mental health facilities. . . . Yet more doubt thrown on the benefits of vitamin C and E supplements. In some cases they actually reduce the benefits of exercise, according to a study in the Journal of Physiology (http://tinyurl.com/vit-study). The study looked at 54 men and women who were already in pretty good shape. Most were runners or cyclists. Half got a placebo; the other half got the vitamins. After an intense 11-week training program, both groups showed improvements but the one taking placebo had more energy and better health. . . . There’s an epidemic in thyroid cancer — but it’s an epidemic in diagnosis, not disease, according to a study in JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery (http://tinyurl.com/thyroid-study). Incidence of the disease tripled since the 1970s, but mortality rates remain the same. A less aggressive form of the disease is being found and treated.
House Republicans come out with their ACA alternative. A continuous coverage surcharge replaces the individual mandate. But where’s the CBO score?
The biosimilar segment of the pharmaceutical industry is on fire. Some 700 biosimilars are at some stage of development, and more than 660 companies are involved in some way in the biosimilars land rush. Still, only a handful may get on the market in the next few years.
No one knows how much of an effect biosimilars will have on oncology expenditures. Pricing and market share are in a large, opaque “to be determined” cloud. But there’s certainly potential for a major impact that could lower oncology expenditures by millions, if not billions.
The future of biosimilars in this country is nothing if not uncertain. Most immediately, the U.S. Supreme Court is hearing a case that will determine the timing of the 180-day waiting period before a biosimilar can go on the market. But there are larger and longer-term issues at play as well.
While coupons help individual consumers, they are also having a major impact on the insurance industry and anyone responsible for paying health care bills. Insurers and pharmacy benefit managers complain that they foil formularies and other pricing strategies designed to steer consumers to less-expensive drugs.
The hard truth is that telehealth’s future—its size, its contours—will depend a lot on what payers will be willing to pay for. Currently, commercial plans cover only a limited number of services. In addition, research suggests that there may be quality and utilization problems.
Insurers should consider covering new drug-delivery devices that can improve outcomes while lowering disease-specific pharmacy and long-term overall health care costs. Managing these devices in the pharmacy benefit will consolidate volume-based purchasing and capitalize on PBM strategies for improving adherence.
Basaglar is coming on the scene during tumultuous times for insulin products. Manufacturers are under attack for price hikes. There are allegations of backroom rebate deals. And a class-action lawsuit has been brought on behalf of uninsured patients, charging insulin makers with setting artificially high prices.
Evaluating the quality of telemedicine care is about as easy as evaluating the quality of health care, period, and researchers are still ironing out the methodological kinks. That may be one reason research results are all over the place. This article involved reviewing nine such studies, and the findings are a mixed bag.
The results can be tragic. Patients with addictions are unlikely to wait the hours or days it takes health insurers to approve the medications they need. Insurers are changing their practices, but not without some outside pressure.