BIOPHARMA DRIVE - Scott Gotlieb, FDA commissioner, has been very vocal on twitter as a way to communicate the FDA's goals and to invite public comment and scrutiny. Stakeholders both inside and outside the agency have given Gottlieb credit for both transparency and effort. However, there are risks to the volume and pace of Gottlieb's methods, says HPM's WALID GELLAD.
NEW YORK TIMES - A group of economists is suggesting that many small tweaks, such as reigning in long-term care hospitals, could tame health care spending. HPM's JEREMY KAHN said there are some patients with particular ailments who benefit from the setting, but agreed with the economists that the hospitals are a historical accident, defined more by payment rules than patient needs.
THE INCLINE - Scent with Love, the all-volunteer organization takes donated flowers from weddings and other events and brings them to places like the Children’s Home in Bloomfield, Bethlehem Haven in Bluff, and Family House in Oakland and Shadyside. The organization was founded by SHANNON HALDEMAN (HPM '20), who knows that walking in to a new hospital can be intimidating for some patients and families. The flowers are a welcome addition.
WESA-FM - A new health insurance rule from the Trump administration is being criticized by the Pennsylvania Insurance Department. The policy would jeopardize those who buy health insurance on the individual market. "If only sick people enter the individual market place, premiums become completely unaffordable," said HPM's ERIC ROBERTS.
NPR - The governor of Arizona removed a doctor from the state's Medicaid drug committee and issued an executive order requiring disclosure of financial conflicts in response to a joint investigation by NPR and the Center for Public Integrity Investigation. Walid Gellad, HPM professor, says disclosing financial ties should be standard practice, especially for people serving on decision-making boards. "At least they can be out in the open."
STAT NEWS - Over the past week, the Trump administration has begun to clarify their proposals to lower drug prices. “They’re clearly still in early stages – a plan is still a plan, and a proposed rule can be a proposed rule for a long time, and a workgroup is just a workgroup,” said HPM's WALID GELLAD. “But we’re ahead of where we were six months ago.”
CBS PITTSBURGH - Congratulations to HEATHER TOMKO (HPM '19), who was crowned Miss Wheelchair USA on Saturday, July 21, 2018. Born with spinal muscular atrophy, a genetic neuromuscular disease, she graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a bachelor of science in mechanical and biomedical engineering. She also won the Invacare People’s Choice Award and the Dr. Georgi Hudson Smith Quest for Knowledge Award.
STAT NEWS - As political pressure on the pharmaceutical industry builds, Merck has become the latest big drug maker to commit to halting price hikes. In a brief statement, the company agreed not to increase the average net prices of its medicines by more than inflation annually. “We’re now seeing an effort to address pricing that we haven’t seen before,” said HPM's Walid Gellad.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.