The FDA is creating a working group to explore how the US can safely import certain drugs from other countries "in the event of a dramatic price increase" for off-patent drugs manufactured by a single company, the HHS announced Thursday. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb stressed that any drug importation would be temporary, lasting only until new competition enters the market.
The CMS is working on regulation that experts say could mean it will soon resume Affordable Care Act risk adjustment payments to insurers. The agency sent for review an interim final rule titled "Ratification and Reissuance of the Methodology for the HHS-operated Permanent Risk Adjustment Program under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act" to the White House Office of Management and Budget earlier this week.
The percentage of primary care physicians accepting new Medicaid patients didn't significantly increase after the implementation of higher payment rates, while there was only a 1.6 percentage point increase in primary care Medicaid participation following the expansion of Medicaid eligibility, with increases concentrated in expansion states, according to a pair of studies in Health Affairs. Pediatricians had a higher likelihood of accepting new Medicaid patients than general or family practice physicians and internists, according to one of the studies.
Children who underwent CT scans were more likely to develop brain tumors than those in the general population, according to a study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. However, the findings, based on data from 168,394 Dutch youths who had at least one CT scan between 1979 and 2012, didn't find a link between pediatric CT exposure and leukemia.
Researchers found an association between cellphone use and lower figural -- or nonverbal -- memory among teens, especially those who pressed their phones against the right side of their heads when using them, according to a study to be published in Environmental Health Perspectives. The research, based on data involving nearly 700 Swiss youths, found cellphone use had no effect on verbal memory, and the study found no significant effects associated with use that did not involve pressing the phone against the head.
HHS appears to be crafting regulation that would remove safe harbor protections for drug rebates provided to insurers and pharmacy benefit managers by pharmaceutical companies. HHS recently sent a rule to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review, and though details have not been released, the rule is titled "Removal of Safe Harbor Protection for Rebates to Plans or PBMs Involving Prescription Pharmaceuticals and Creation of New Safe Harbor Protection."
Senate Democrats are urging Republican senators to back a resolution that would permit the Office of Senate Legal Counsel to intervene in a lawsuit filed by Republican attorneys general that challenges the legality of the Affordable Care Act. The move follows the Justice Department's announcement last month that it won't defend the ACA.
Merck announced it would cut prices for certain medications by at least 10%, and the company also said it would not raise the average net price of its products over the rate of inflation annually. The price rollbacks target minor, off-patent products and not blockbusters like cancer medication Keytruda or Januvia, used to treat diabetes.
Opioid addiction is a big issue for employers, but companies are training managers to recognize problems and working with health plans and pharmacy benefit managers to incorporate CDC guidelines on how the drugs should be dispensed and managed, experts said. Physical therapy and pain management alternatives to opioids are options companies can consider to reduce opioid use.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will open its first employee health clinic in Kokomo, Ind., to serve workers and their families and reduce health costs. FCA has five plants in the area, so 22,000 people in the company's health care program will be eligible to use the clinic.
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