- California Healthline Original Stories 3
- California Reforms Target Workers’ Compensation Fraud
- Hospitals Say They’re Being Slammed By Drug Price Hikes
- Exercise, Even In Small Doses, Offers Tremendous Benefits For Senior Citizens
- Pharmaceuticals 2
- Waxman Continues Crusade Against Big Pharma's Profit-Padding From New Perch As Lobbyist
- Promising Ebola Drug Fails In Clinical Trial Due To Lack Of Participants
- Covered California & The Health Law 1
- When It Comes To Buying Off Covered California, 'Shopping Around Matters'
Latest From California Healthline:
Two new laws will prohibit felons from billing for workers' comp and rein in unsanctioned treatment. (Christina Jewett, 10/13)
In a report out tuesday, hospital groups said drug prices have skyrocketed since 2013, triggering a huge increase in what hospitals spend on pharmaceuticals. (Sydney Lupkin, 10/13)
New research shows that senior citizens who walk or exercise regularly see tremendous benefits in their health and well-being. (Judith Graham, 10/13)
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Summaries Of The News:
The program California Democrat Henry Waxman is lobbying for allows hospitals that serve a large proportion of low-income patients to buy drugs from manufacturers at a discount of 20 percent to 50 percent. In other news, a look at why drug coupons are benefiting the industry.
The Washington Post:
Henry Waxman Isn’t Done Fighting With Drug Companies
Henry Waxman spent four decades in Congress relentlessly going after drug companies for what he charged was their profit-padding. The California Democrat left Capitol Hill in 2015, but he hasn’t given up battling big pharma. Waxman is now working as a lobbyist for hospitals and medical clinics to protect a drug discount program, known as 340B, that he helped create 24 years ago. He is urging federal regulators to resist calls by the drug industry’s leading trade group to put new restrictions on the program, which was designed to help hospitals better treat poor patients by requiring drug makers to offer medicines at a steep discount. (Ho, 10/12)
Still, the study authors write, it came close enough to the threshold that it may shift the discussion about the virus.
Los Angeles Times:
ZMapp, Experimental Ebola Drug, Falls Short In Clinical Trial That Couldn’t Find Enough Patients
After taking a variety of factors into account, the researchers running the clinical trial calculated that there was a 91.2% chance that ZMapp made a difference for patients. That may sound impressive, but it fell short of the 97.5% threshold needed to prove that those who got the drug were more likely to survive than those who didn’t. (Kaplan, 10/13)
In other pharmaceutical news —
San Francisco Business Times:
AcelRX Pharmaceuticals Hopes To Change Pain Relief In Medical Settings
Before she started AcelRx Pharmaceuticals, Dr. Pamela Palmer had an epiphany. While on an internship at defense contractor Hughes Aircraft, the electrical engineering major realized that many of the projects were designed to kill people. She switched careers, and now works on saving and preserving lives. Her company is hard at work on products that could change pain relief. (Leuty, 10/11)
"Make sure you know what your options are," says James Scullary of Covered California.
Capital Public Radio:
Renewals For Covered California May Save Enrollees Money
It's renewal time for participants in California's health insurance exchange, which may mean cost savings for some consumers -- but finding those savings can be complicated. The state says 80 percent of enrollees in Covered California are either eligible for cheaper coverage or will not see a rate increase of more than five percent this year. James Scullary with Covered California says the most affordable plan changes from year to year. (Johnson, 10/12)
County residents will still have a choice of seven insurers that offer Medicare Advantage plans.
Care 1st Insurer To Drop Medicare Plan In Stanislaus County
In Stanislaus County, more than 1,800 residents will be affected as Care1st discontinues its Medicare Advantage plan next year. Care1st will offer a plan for county residents who are dually eligible for Medicare and the state’s Medi-Cal program for the poor. Those enrolled in Care1st Advantage Optimum will need to switch to another insurer for Medicare Advantage coverage, which provides benefits for physician visits, hospitalization, prescription drugs and other services on top of basic Medicare, said Maria Profeta, program manager for the Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program in Modesto. County residents will still have a choice of seven insurers that offer Medicare Advantage plans. The premiums range from zero to more than $160 a month. (Carlson, 10/12)
Altogether, the "No on O1" campaign to defeat the ballot measure in Albany has so far spent $76,000, or about $4 per resident.
The Mercury News:
Albany Election Sees Soda Industry Run Up Big Tab
The Albany soda tax is one of three similar measures on Bay Area ballots this November — San Francisco and Oakland have also proposed such a tax. All three are modeled on one passed in Berkeley in 2014. Albany’s tax would charge distributors at one cent per fluid ounce and includes an exemption for distributors serving businesses with less than $100,000 in gross receipts per year. All three raise taxes on distributors, rather than the actual sale of sweetened beverages, and all send the money rasied to the general fund. (Esper, 10/12)
The children had all undergone a root canal procedure at Children’s Dental Group.
Orange County Register:
Pediatric Dental Infections Tied To Anaheim Clinic Reach 37
Dental infection cases among children treated at an Anaheim dental clinic have spiked to 37 patients, the Orange County Health Care Agency said Wednesday. Among the baby tooth root canal patients at Children’s Dental Group, there are now 12 lab-confirmed mycobacterial infections and 25 probable infections. All of the children, ages 3 to 9, have required hospitalization. The dates the patients underwent the root canals, or pulpotomy procedures, range from March 14 to July 28. (Perkes, 10/12)
The California company, which helped employers buy health insurance, ran into trouble after it was discovered its founder had created a program to allow sales representatives to skirt requirements on a state insurance licensing course.
The New York Times:
Zenefits, A Rocket That Fell To Earth, Tries To Launch Again
Trying to turn around a failing technology company is almost always a futile task — just ask Marissa Mayer at Yahoo or whoever it is who now runs BlackBerry. But the challenge becomes even more daunting if your company is afflicted by something deeper than a mere implosion of its business. If the company you’re rebuilding has been racked by questions about its ethics and culture, and if on some fundamental level it became derelict in its integrity, well, good luck trying to get that turkey to fly. (Manjoo, 10/12)
The disease occurs when a single letter in the HBB gene is a T instead of an A, which makes it an ideal target for gene editing. “It is one single target that is the same in every sickle cell patient,” said Dana Carroll, a biochemist.
Los Angeles Times:
With CRISPR, Scientists Correct Genetic Mutation That Causes Sickle Cell Disease
The promise of a revolutionary gene-editing technology is beginning to be realized in experiments aimed at curing sickle cell disease. Scientists reported Wednesday that they used the CRISPR-Cas9 system to correct a tiny genetic mutation that causes the blood disease, which affects millions of people around the world. (Netburn, 10/12)
In other public health news —
Los Angeles Times:
Cosmic Radiation May Leave Astronauts With Long-Term Cases Of ‘Space Brain,’ Study Says
This is your brain in space — and it does not look pretty. Scientists studying the effects of radiation in rodents say that astronauts’ exposure to galactic cosmic rays could face a host of cognitive problems, including chronic dementia. The UC Irvine-led study, published in Scientific Reports, adds to a growing body of research on the harmful effects humans may reckon with as they venture out longer and deeper into space, whether on trips to Mars or potentially beyond. (Khan, 10/12)
“Mammography can help a few — a very few — women, but it comes at a real human cost, including people undergoing treatment unnecessarily,” says Dr. H. Gilbert Welch, one of the authors of the study.
Los Angeles Times:
Majority Of Women Diagnosed With Breast Cancer After Screening Mammograms Get Unnecessary Treatment, Study Finds
More than half of breast cancers newly diagnosed in the United States are likely cases of mistaken identity that subject women to needless anxiety, treatment and expense, researchers reported Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study also found that the value of mammograms as a life-saving tool has been significantly overstated. Instead, the introduction of more effective treatments should get most of the credit for improving survival rates among women diagnosed with breast cancer, the researchers concluded. (Healy, 10/12)
Mammograms More Likely To Cause Unneeded Treatment Than To Save Lives
A new study offers a reality check to anyone who says a mammogram saved her life. For every woman in whom mammography detected a breast cancer that was destined to become large and potentially life-threatening — the kind that screening is intended to head off — about four are diagnosed with one that would never have threatened their health. But the surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation that follows such diagnoses can be traumatic, disfiguring, toxic, or even life-shortening even as it’s unnecessary. Prior estimates of how many mammogram-detected cancers are overdiagnoses, meaning they don’t need to be treated, have ranged from 0 to 54 percent. (Begley, 10/12)