Articles Posted in Medications

bag-150x150If patients can benefit from price transparency by hospitals, shouldn’t employers and health insurers post online what they are paying for medical services? Yes, say federal regulators, who started requiring this effective July 1.

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has ordered parties that act as health payers to make public a wealth of economic information that previously had been closely held, NPR and the Kaiser Health News service reported:

“[H]ealth insurers and self-insured employers must post on websites just about every price they’ve negotiated with providers for health care services, item by item. About the only exclusion is the prices paid for prescription drugs, except those administered in hospitals or doctors’ offices. The federally required data release could affect future prices or even how employers contract for health care. Many will see for the first time how well their insurers are doing compared with others. The new rules are far broader than those that went into effect last year requiring hospitals to post their negotiated rates for the public to see. Now insurers must post the amounts paid for ‘every physician in network, every hospital, every surgery center, every nursing facility,’ said Jeffrey Leibach, a partner at the consulting firm Guidehouse.

cubanmark-150x150While some individuals with jaw-dropping wealth have pushed into showy extremes of shooting themselves and their pals into outer space or dropping hundreds of millions of dollars on yachts or Manhattan penthouses, a tech mogul and pro basketball franchise-owning billionaire is winning attention by attempting something different, challenging, and potentially beneficial to regular folks in great need: He is trying to make skyrocketing prescription drug prices affordable.

The Cost Plus Drug startup by entrepreneur Mark Cuban (shown above) could not only benefit individuals but also the federal government, providing Medicare an estimated $4 billion in 2020 savings on the cost of generic meds.

Those aren’t figures hyped by the imagination of the Texas billionaire’s publicists. They were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, based on research by three MD-Ph. D.s in part of the medicine department at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. and Harvard Medical School. Dr. Hussain Saleem Lalani, the lead author of the study, told NBC News this of the research findings:

debtmedicalkhnnpr-300x193The sky-high and relentlessly rising cost of U.S. health care is slamming patients, ensnaring them in pricey over-testing, over-diagnosing, and over-treatment. It is pounding them with pervasive, pernicious, and unacceptable medical debt.

The crushing burden of expensive health care is leaving consumers going without as they also struggle now with soaring prices for gas, food, and other household basics.

Punishing finances have become part and parcel of the American way of health care, with “more than 100 million people in America ― including 41% of adults ― beset by a health care system that is systematically pushing patients into debt on a mass scale,” according to an unfolding investigation by the independent, nonpartisan Kaiser Health News service and National Public Radio. As the media organizations reported:

cdcwalensky-150x150Parents with little kids — those ages 6 months to 5 years old — now must decide whether, how, and when to get these babies and tots their coronavirus vaccines, newly approved by federal regulators.

They should talk with their pediatricians and others with medical expertise and experience. The American Academy of Pediatricians, a leading specialists group, says this about the low-, multi-dose regimen of coronavirus vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna for little ones:

“The AAP recommends Covid-19 vaccination for all children and adolescents 6 months of age and older who do not have contraindications using a vaccine authorized for use for their age. The AAP encourages all states to work with pediatrician practices to make accessing Covid vaccine as simple as possible.”

ftclogo-300x95While U.S. patients are seeing their finances blown up by skyrocketing prescription drug prices, the members of Congress continue to wring their hands, ponder responses — and do nothing. The Federal Trade Commission, though, has at least launched an investigation of one part of Big Pharma to see if pharmacy benefit managers, the industry middlemen known as PBMs, jack up prices for patients.

Those footing the bill for drugs have plenty of reason for outrage, a trio of researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston have reported.

Their findings, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, show just how stark Big Pharma’s recent push for profits has been. As the researchers wrote in a New York Times Op-Ed, calling for congressional action to lower drug prices, based on their study:

gina4-300x169While hope can be a remarkable element in healing the sick and injured, can there be anything crueler than raising false hopes among the vulnerable?

Patients with serious illnesses like cancer — of the pancreas, breast, and rectum — may need to take in with extra care journalistic reports on medical advances that might affect their treatment.

Two N’s will matter a lot to them — nuance and the scientific short-hand in which medical scientists communicate how many subjects participated in their research (the value described as N=).

childvax-300x206The coronavirus pandemic stubbornly persists, infecting 110,000 Americans daily — and likely many, many more — and hospitalizing 29,000 a day on average.

Vaccinations, also, have stayed at the forefront of efforts to deal with the disease, with shots on the brink of being regulator-approved and imminently available for the littlest of kids, and against the Omicron strain that has proven to be highly infectious and continues to mutate rapidly into new variants.

But travelers, who already have seen a relaxation of face covering requirements, have gotten news that also could please many: U.S. officials have decided to end a requirement for those coming into the country from overseas to test negative.

diabetesdrug-300x127As medical scientists increase the understanding of diabetes and the role that hormones can play in treating the disease and clinical obesity, doctors, drug makers, insurers, and others in U.S. health care are running smack into familiar, significant problems.

These include issues with public perceptions about weight, diet, and appropriate prescribing of powerful medications, as well as challenges about who pays for what in the nation’s complex health care system.

The latest, evolving tangles concern semaglutide and liraglutide, two drugs in a group that experts at the drug maker Novo Nordisk pioneered to treat diabetes. Investigators developed the drugs as doctors, patients, and researchers suddenly learned more about extreme weight loss through increasingly popular gastric surgeries, finding that the procedures also altered patients’ hormones like ghrelin, popularly dubbed the “hunger hormone.”

CMSlogo1-300x156Tens of millions of seniors, hit by one of the largest increases in recent memory of their monthly Medicare charges due to a prescription drug regulatory debacle, will not see a penny refunded this year on what amounts to a federal overcharge.

This will occur, even though it was floated as a possibility and the cause of their health care coverage increase didn’t materialize.

The 2021 embarrassment for federal officials, instead, may turn into inflation anticipation, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has said.

Abbottlogo-300x77The giant drug maker Abbott and the federal Food and Drug Administration both should hang their heads in shame as more information becomes public as to how they left millions of vulnerable infants hungry and put kids’ health at risk by wrongs involving the manufacture and distribution of a vital foodstuff — baby formula.

Millions of parents have gone into meltdown because of a nationwide shortage of the needed nutrient. It was sparked by the shutdown of Abbott’s formula-producing plant in Michigan, as well as the company’s product recall after babies got sick and died from  infections involving Cronobacter sakazakii bacteria.

While Abbott has emphasized that experts have not conclusively linked the bacteria to its formula and the firm has played up its cooperation in a product recall, Robert Califf, the FDA’s chief and a doctor, ripped the company. He told a U.S. House subcommittee that agency inspectors found “egregiously unsanitary” conditions at the drug maker’s plant, the New York Times reported, quoting him, thusly:

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