- California Healthline Original Stories 2
- Inspectors Find Calif. Hospital's Pharmacy Posed Infection Risk
- CalPERS Taps UnitedHealth To Run Its Prescription Drug Business
- Hospital Roundup 1
- Female Patients' Privacy Violated As Part Of Sharp Hospital's Video Drug Surveillance Operation
- Public Health and Education 3
- State Agency Reviewing Toxic Contamination Decisions After Racially Charged Emails Come To Light
- In Effort To Curb Overdose Deaths, Ventura Doctors Urged To Use Statewide CURES Database
- Researchers: Origin Point Of Colon Tumor More Important Than Anyone Expected
Latest From California Healthline:
Thousands of patients at the San Diego-area hospital may have been exposed to infection last year because of unsanitary conditions in the compounding lab where IVs were mixed, officials found. (Chad Terhune, 5/18)
Controlling costs was a big consideration in awarding the nearly $4.9 billion contract to OptumRx, a unit of the insurance giant. (Chad Terhune, 5/18)
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More News From Across The State
The California Public Employees' Retirement System board voted unanimously to give the five-year contract to the pharmacy-benefit division of UnitedHealth. OptumRx was the lowest bidder for the contract, which starts Jan. 1. The company’s bid totaled $4.88 billion for the five-year cost of prescription drugs, including rebates and the company’s administrative fees.
The San Francisco Business Times:
CalPERS Awards $4.9 Billion PBM Contract, As It Scrambles To Control Rx Drug Costs
The California Public Employees Retirement System has awarded an estimated $4.9 billion, five-year pharmacy benefits management contract to OptumRx, a UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) subsidiary. The contract takes effect Jan. 1, and ends Dec. 31, 2021, officials said. OptumRx will administer prescription drug benefits for 486,000 CalPERS members, retirees, and dependents, or just over one in three of the 1.4 million total. (Rauber, 5/19)
CalPERS Taps UnitedHealth To Run Its Prescription Drug Business
The California Public Employees’ Retirement System has picked a unit of UnitedHealth Group to run its pharmacy business, hoping the nation’s largest health insurer can help contain the soaring cost of prescription drugs. Now CalPERS will turn its attention to setting health insurance rates for 2017. The CalPERS board voted unanimously Wednesday to follow its staff’s recommendation to award a five-year contract to OptumRx, the pharmacy-benefit division of UnitedHealth. Optum beat out two other industry giants, Express Scripts and CVS Health, which is the current pharmacy-benefit manager for CalPERS. (Terhune, 5/18)
The startup voided two years of results and revised other reports in an effort to stave off harsh sanctions from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
The Wall Street Journal:
Theranos Voids Two Years Of Edison Blood-Test Results
Theranos Inc. has told federal health regulators that the company voided two years of results from its Edison blood-testing devices, according to a person familiar with the matter. The Edison machines were touted as revolutionary and were the main basis for the $9 billion valuation attained by the Palo Alto, Calif., company in a funding round in 2014. But Theranos has now told regulators that it threw out all Edison test results from 2014 and 2015. The company has told the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that it has issued tens of thousands of corrected blood-test reports to doctors and patients, voiding some results and revising others, according to the person familiar with the matter. (Carreyrou, 5/18)
The San Francisco Business Times:
Theranos Corrects Blood Test Results For Past Two Years
Theranos Inc. said it has corrected tens of thousands of blood tests for the past two years, informing doctors and patients of errors. The company admitted the test corrections to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which is scheduled to rule on sanctions against the company and its billionaire celebrity CEO Elizabeth Holmes, after the federal agency discovered problems at Theranos' Newark, California, labs. (Chu, 5/19)
Theranos Corrects Tens Of Thousands Of Blood-Testing Results
Blood-testing startup Theranos Inc. said it sent doctors and patients tens of thousands of corrected test results and voided two years of data from its devices, a devastating blow for the company that has come under scrutiny over the accuracy of its technology. (Chen, 5/18)
The hospital has issued an apology for what it says was a breach of their patients' privacy. “If you’re missing drugs, you don’t just pop cameras in a place where women are naked. It’s ridiculous that Sharp thought this was a reasonable way to figure this all out,” said one woman.
Sharp Hospital Apologizes For Privacy Breach As Video Sting Provokes Backlash
Sharp Grossmont Hospital has apologized for releasing 14 video clips that included women undergoing obstetric surgery, an error it said constituted a breach of their medical privacy and has led to state and federal agency notification. “We are very sorry that this error occurred and that the privacy of these patients was breached,” the Sharp Grossmont statement said. The hospital mistakenly released the clips to an attorney representing a doctor the hospital said is seen in the videos taking bottles of sedatives from surgery carts and putting them in his pocket. Hospital spokesman John Cihomsky said Grossmont is trying to identify each patient shown in these clips, and when it does it will notify them of the breach. (Clark, 5/19)
Nikhil Gupta is described as running “a one-man show" at Mission City Community Network in North Hills and that staff and the board are afraid to challenge his decisions, some of which might compromise care. His $763,656 in annual pay is two to three times greater than that of other executives running larger clinics in California.
Los Angeles Magazine:
Profit At A SoCal Non-Profit?
When Anthony Dao was voted onto the board of Mission City Community Network in 2010, he saw it as a way to give back. A few years earlier, when the self-taught electrical engineer was out of a job, with a pregnant wife and no health insurance, the nonprofit medical clinic had helped him. Maybe now, he thought, he could return the favor. After sitting through his first few monthly meetings, Dao had nothing but praise for the man who ran the place: Nikhil Gupta. The clinic, which provides medical, dental, and psychological care for the poor and the uninsured, was expanding, and it had millions of dollars in the bank. “I thought everything Nik was saying at the board meetings was great,” Dao said. “This guy was amazing. I looked up to him.” During the next couple of years, though, Dao’s impression changed. (Gottlieb, 5/9)
San Francisco-based Genentech Inc.'s new drug, Tecentriq, is expected to treat patients metastatic bladder cancer. Meanwhile, new research identifying breast cancer genes could aid treatment plans.
The San Francisco Business Times:
Genentech Wins FDA Approval Of First New Bladder Cancer Drug In 30 Years
Just two months after scoring the promise of a quick regulatory review, Genentech Inc. won Food and Drug Administration approval Wednesday of a new type of cancer immunotherapy drug against advanced bladder cancer that has spread to other parts of the body. (Leuty, 5/19)
Identification Of Breast Cancer Genes Raises Hopes For More Personalized Treatment
Like snowflakes, cancers are unique. And that is what makes them so hard to defend against — different tumors will not always react the same to one type of treatment. (Starr, 5/18)
Activists say the emails reveal a systemic bias against communities of color facing possible toxic contamination.
Toxics Regulators Review 'No Action' Decisions By Scientists In Email Scandal
The state Department of Toxic Substances Control is reviewing a number of its decisions to take no further action regarding potential environmental contamination, with a specific focus on cases involving two senior agency scientists who had exchanged dozens of racially-charged emails. Toxic Substances Control is reviewing "no further action" decisions made over the past five years involving William Bosan, a senior toxicologist, and Theo Johnson, a senior geologist. An independent oversight panel recommended the review in January. (Aguilera, 5/18)
The system tracks who has been prescribed those drugs most prone to addiction and abuse.
The Ventura County Star:
Doctors Can Help Reduce Prescription Drug Deaths, Ventura County Officials Say
Unwillingly, unknowingly and indirectly, doctors and others who prescribe opioids in Ventura County may be contributing to addiction and even death. They are, in some cases, "preventable deaths," said Dan Hicks, an alcohol and drug prevention manager in the county's Behavioral Health Department. (Martinez, 5/18)
In a new study, cancer patients whose tumor bloomed on the left side of their colon survived a median of 33.3 months, while right-sided colon cancer patients survived 19.4 months.
The San Jose Mercury News:
Terminal Colon Cancer Patients With Left-Side Tumors Live Longer, New Study Says
A decadelong study of patients diagnosed with terminal colon cancer has yielded a remarkable conclusion: Patients can expect to live more than a year longer if their tumor started on the left side of their colon rather than the right side. With the new data in hand, doctors should now be able to better tailor specific drugs that will help all patients with stage-four colon cancer, no matter which side of the colon the cancer originated. (Seipel, 5/18)
The state law, signed in 2014, had a slow rollout. The legislation is targeted at both protecting the health of the inmates and the cost to the taxpayers. Treatment of infectious diseases is far pricier than the condoms.
California Law Puts Free Condoms In State Prisons
Sex is illegal in California prisons, but if you pay taxes you're funding free condoms for inmates. Despite a blatant contradiction to existing portions of the state's penal code, lawmakers insist the program protects both taxpayer's physical health and wallets. The law was signed by the governor in 2014, but was implemented slowly, meaning Kern County's five prisons are only just now receiving the new perk for prisoners. (Harvey, 5/19)
In other health care news from across the state —
The San Diego Union-Tribune:
Fighting Prediabetes In San Diego
Last year, Elvira Eggleston’s doctor told her she had prediabetes. That diagnosis shocked her quite a bit. The 71-year-old San Diegan said she felt perfectly healthy and was surprised to learn that a routine test showed her blood sugar levels were elevated, though not high enough for her to be called a Type 2 diabetic. Hearing this information from her doctor, she said, was enough for her to take action. (Sisson, 5/18)
Fresno Aims To Boost Health Through Biking, Walking
Joanna Ruiz’s ZIP code in south Fresno has a higher incidence of diabetes among adults than Fresno as a whole, according to data from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. Fresno County’s death rate from diabetes is one of the highest in California. Officials in Fresno are now aiming to boost public health and safety for bicyclists and pedestrians by creating more transportation options that do not involve driving. (Romero, 5/18)
The Orange County Register:
Medical Marijuana Might Soon Be Much More Available In O.C.
Orange County’s restrictive marijuana environment might look quite different after Nov. 8. As Californians prepare to vote on legalizing recreational marijuana, residents of several local cities will decide whether to regulate and tax medical marijuana businesses for the first time. (Staggs, 5/18)
On Tuesday the Senate passed its own $1.1 billion bill, and the two chambers are now facing tough negotiations in an effort to find a compromise. Meanwhile, the man who led the White House response to Ebola says Congress has failed to learn its lesson and is now failing Americans in the face of a slow-motion public-health disaster.
The Associated Press:
House Passes $622 Million Bill To Fight Zika
House Republicans on Wednesday pushed through a $622 million bill to battle the Zika virus, setting up challenging negotiations with the Senate and the White House. The 241-184 House vote broke mostly along party lines as Democrats lined up in opposition, heeding a White House veto threat and a warning from a top government health official that the bill wouldn’t do enough to respond to the growing threat from Zika. “It’s just not enough,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden said of the House measure. (5/19)
Ebola Czar: America Failing On Zika
The man who led the successful White House response to the Ebola outbreak says the Zika virus is a slow-motion public health disaster — and Congress is to blame. Ron Klain, who served as White House Ebola czar and as Vice President Joe Biden’s chief of staff, told POLITICO's “Pulse Check” podcast that Congress has failed to heed the lessons of the Ebola epidemic and that the Zika funding battle has become unforgivably partisan in the face of such dire human costs, including severe brain defects in infants. “The babies being born are neither Democrats or Republicans,” he said. “They're babies.” (Diamond, 5/18)
West Nile Virus Found In Mosquitoes In Rancho Cucamonga, Ontario, Chino
Mosquitoes found in Rancho Cucamonga, Ontario and Chino have tested positive for West Nile virus for the first time this year — and about a month earlier than usual, mosquito control officials said Wednesday. Five southern house mosquitoes found in those San Bernardino County cities were confirmed to have the disease Monday. (Hurt, 5/19)