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Government quit test of pricey cancer treatment amid concerns over industry role

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POLITICO - The payment deal for Kymriah therapy drew internal HHS scrutiny and is the target of current congressional investigations of Swiss drug giant Novartis. The company's pivotal study of the drug's in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia found that at one year, about one out of every three patients the government would be covering would get sick again, said INMACULADA HERNANDEZ (HPM '16).  

Gellad's take on drugmakers defiance to Trump's call to drop prices

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POLITICO - President Donald Trump in May said that drugmakers would soon announce “massive” price cuts, and his administration rolled out a plan to bring down the cost of medicines. But the companies don’t appear to have gotten that message. “The bully pulpit can't make fundamental change — it can provide perhaps a short-term victory... but it can’t do what the administration said it was going to do,” said WALID GELLAD, HPM professor.   

HPM faculty researcher wins the 2018 AcademyHealth Article-of-the Year Award

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A recent study, led by HPM’s ERIC ROBERTS has been named the 2018 Article-of-the-YearAcademyHealth, a leading national research center focused on advancing the fields of health services research and health policy. Entitled "The Value-Based Payment Modifier: Program Outcomes and Implications for Disparities," the work studied a precursor to the merit-based incentive payment system, Medicare’s new pay-for-performance program for physicians.  

Tribal Legal Preparedness Project now available on CDC Web site

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The Tribal Legal Preparedness Project, created by HPM's TINA BATRA HERSHEY and the Center for Public Health Practice, is now available! Check it out and share with anyone who may be interested in emergency preparedness for Tribal Nations.   

Alumna Elbeshbishi receives the Superstar Award from UMPC Health Plan

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YARA ELBESHIBISHI (HPM '16) was nominated for 1st Quarter of the Superstar Award through UPMC Health Plan. UPMC celebrates and honors individuals for their dedication to UPMC Insurance Services Division PRIIDES values. Yara is recognized as a valuable contributor and quickly becoming a subject matter expert for multiple channels within the Exchange Operations Department. 

Pittsburgh finds overdose risk quintuples with opioid and Benzodiazepine use

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ASPPH FRIDAY LETTER - In the first 90 days of concurrent opioid and benzodiazepine use, the risk of opioid-related overdose increases five-fold compared to opioid-only use among Medicare recipients. "Having multiple prescribers who are not in communication increases the risk for overdose,” says HPM's YUTING ZHANG. "Policy interventions should focus on preventing concurrent exposure,” says INMACULADA HERNANDEZ (HPM '16).  

Pitt Public Health study helps inform new legislation sponsored by Sen Toomey (video)

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In Sen Toomey's weekly e-newsletter, he announces that the Senate Finance Committee adopted his amendment, the Encouraging Appropriate Prescribing for Victims of Overdose in Medicare Act, to require Medicare to notify a doctor if their patient has suffered a non-fatal opioid overdose. Toomey references a study by experts including JULIE DONOHUE, HPM professor, in his discussion about the need to inform doctors of patient overdoses.   

The common drug that may make opioid overdose five times as likely

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FORBES - A new study shows that the combination of opioids with benzodiazepines is especially risky in the first 90 days of concurrent use. "These findings demonstrate that fragmented care plays a role in the inappropriate use of opioids, and having multiple prescribers who are not in communication increases the risk for overdose," HPM's YUTING ZHANG told Forbes about a study also featuring INMACULADA HERNANDEZ (HPM '16) as first author.   

Cordier chosen as 2017-2018 Schweitzer Fellow

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One Pitt Public Health student has been selected as a 2018-19 Pittsburgh Schweitzer Fellow. JOHN CORDIER (HPM '18) aims to address health and education gaps faced by youth in urban schools by working with high-school students during after-school programs. He leads health clubs to address health issues and empower the students to be leaders in addressing community health issues.  

How ‘price transparency’ could affect high cost of U.S. prescription drugs

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WIKITRIBUNE - The White House released a rough plan to rein in drug prices that included price transparency. The argument is that drug companies might shy away from raising prices if they knew the public was watching. "Just notifying us whether there’s a price increase, that’s not really going to have any effect,” says HPM's WALID GELLAD. “Many of these state laws also have very low fines if they don’t report this data.”  

Kahn speaks on the challenge to report new CMS sepsis measure

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THE HOSPITALIST - In October 2015, CMS implemented its first meaningful policy to attempt for addressing sepsis, however, not everyone has embraced it thus far. “Sepsis is indeed a critical public health problem, and it’s appropriate and valuable that Medicare and other policy makers are focusing on sepsis,” said HPM's JEREMY KAHN. "But at 85-pages long, it really is an enormous effort for hospitals to adhere to this measure."  

Pan on suicide stats from Allegheny Country getting worse

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PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE - Suicides in Allegheny County have increased 66 percent over just eight years from 2010 to 2017. The increase is far higher than the 25 percent national increase, or the 30 percent increase in Pennsylvania over 18 years between 1999 and 2016. “This is really upsetting to me because for so long our [suicide] rates were going down,” said HUGEN's LISA PAN.   

Roberts on one way people who inject drugs can avoid HIV and Hepatitis C infections

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US NEWS AND WORLD REPORT - Tens of thousands of people (if not more) who inject heroin, fentanyl and other opioids are at risk of contracting HIV or hepatitis C from a contaminated syringe. Research shows that programs in which people who inject drugs turn in their used needles in exchange for clean ones are effective in preventing the spread of HIV and hepatitis C, says HPM chair MARK ROBERTS.  

Proposal could take SNAP away from 70,000 Pennsylvania households - Roberts responds

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WESA-FM - Two major proposed changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, could cause 70,000 Pennsylvania households to lose eligibility. “I think there’s concern that with this new policy, we might be erring more on the side of being punitive and too restrictive,” says HPM’s ERIC ROBERTS. “And I think that might come at a cost of helping people who deserve it and benefit from these programs.” 

Maryland's plan to control health costs gets federal approval, Roberts among analysts

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THE BALTIMORE SUN - The federal government has approved a plan Maryland has been testing for the past four years to control health costs by shifting more care out of hospitals and better coordinating care with doctors, nursing homes and community groups. HPM's ERIC T. ROBERTS, was among those to analyze the system.  

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