- California Healthline Original Stories 2
- Counterfeit Opioid Poisonings Spread To Bay Area
- A Talk With The Head Of California’s Troubled Dental Program
- Public Health and Education 3
- As Death Toll Continues To Climb In Sacramento, Fentanyl Turns Up In Bay Area
- Food Allergies Come At Higher Cost For Poorer Children
- Suicide Rate Jumps For Middle-Aged California Women
Latest From California Healthline:
Vomiting, breathing problems, lethargy, unconsciousness result from pirate pills laced with fentanyl. (Barbara Feder Ostrov, 4/27)
The top official at Denti-Cal, a program for low-income California residents, sat down with California Healthline to discuss what her agency is doing to address the severe shortcomings highlighted in a recent report. (Ana B. Ibarra, 4/27)
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Summaries Of The News:
The county’s managed care commission announced a special meeting to formally reject existing bids to run a pharmacy benefits program over concerns about potential conflicts of interest.
The Ventura County Star:
Medi-Cal Commission To Reject Pharmacy Bids, Citing Potential Conflict Of Interest
Citing concerns including potential conflict of interest, members of a Medi-Cal commission said they would scrap current bids and restart the process of finding a company to run a pharmacy benefits program. (Kisken, 4/26)
Not only can human DNA hold one quintillion bytes of data, it also lasts a lot longer. Whereas tapes and disks start to degrade as early as three to 10 years, DNA can last for up to 2,000 years. It's a long way from being commercially viable, however.
The San Francisco Business Times:
Data Storage In DNA? Microsoft, Twist Bio Are Loading Up
In what sounds like the plot of a Hollywood science-fiction flick, software giant Microsoft Corp. cut a deal with a growing San Francisco synthetic biology company to study how DNA could archive terabytes of digital data for hundreds of years. (Leuty, 4/27)
In other health IT news —
Google Glass-Based Startup Raises $17 Million In Funding
Augmedix Inc, a startup that uses Alphabet Inc's Google Glass to provide documentation services to doctors and other healthcare workers, said on Monday it had closed a $17 million funding round led by investment firm Redmile Group. Augmedix's employees transcribe doctors' notes and update patients' electronic medical record through Google Glass. Augmedix's employees transcribe doctors' notes and update patients' electronic medical record through Google Glass. The San Francisco company, which has raised $40 million so far, also said it had received investments from five U.S. healthcare networks, including Sutter Health and Dignity Health, which together have more than 100,000 healthcare workers. (Goliya, 4/25)
Sutter also earns high marks as one of Truven Health Analytics' “15 Top Health Systems." And Tri-City Medical Center's new CEO's salary is revealed.
The San Jose Mercury News:
Sutter Plans Future Closing Of Berkeley Emergency Services
By 2030, or possibly sooner, there may be no emergency medical services in Berkeley. Alta Bates Summit Hospital will close its acute care facility and emergency department in south Berkeley sometime between 2018 and 2030, hospital officials said, confirming rumors swirling around the city for years. (Scherr, 4/25)
The Sacramento Bee:
Sutter Health Given Top Rankings Among Large U.S. Health Systems
Sacramento’s Sutter Health and its Valley Area arm have been named among the top-performing health systems in the country by Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Truven Health Analytics. (Glover, 4/26)
The San Diego Union-Tribune:
New Tri-City CEO To Get Half Million Per Year
Tri-City Medical Center’s new chief executive will receive a base salary of $525,000 per year, the same amount that his ousted predecessor made, hospital contracts show. (Sisson, 4/26)
Law enforcement officials investigating the source of the pills will be looking to see whether the Sacramento and Bay Area cases are connected.
The Associated Press:
14 People Fatally Overdose On 'Painkiller' In California
Fourteen people in the Sacramento, California, area have fatally overdosed on a pill disguised as a popular painkiller, and now the drug has turned up in the San Francisco Bay Area. Bay Area hospitals have treated seven patients who ingested what they thought was the painkiller Norco in recent weeks, according to a report released Tuesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The patients all survived, though at least some experienced nausea, vomiting and difficulty breathing. (4/26)
Counterfeit Opioid Poisonings Spread To Bay Area
An outbreak of poisonings linked to a counterfeit prescription painkiller — previously seen in the Sacramento region — has reached the Bay Area, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The CDC reported Tuesday that seven patients were treated for overdoses in Bay Area hospitals in late March and early April after taking what they thought were tablets of Norco, a brand-name painkiller that combines acetaminophen and hydrocodone. (Feder Ostrov, 4/27)
In other news related to the opioid crisis —
The Washington Post:
This New Street Drug Is 10,000 Times More Toxic Than Morphine, And Now It’s Showing Up In Canada And The U.S.
It was first developed in a Canadian lab more than three decades ago, promising and potent — and intended to relieve pain in a less addictive way. Labeled W-18, the synthetic opioid was the most powerful in a series of about 30 compounds concocted at the University of Alberta and patented in the U.S. and Canada in 1984. But no pharmaceutical company would pick it up, so on a shelf the recipe sat, the research chronicled in medical journals but never put to use. The compound was largely forgotten. Then a Chinese chemist found it, and in labs halfway around the world started developing the drug for consumers in search of a cheap and legal high — one experts say is 100 times more potent than fentanyl and 10,000 stronger than morphine. (Mettler, 4/27)
Researchers say that without being able to afford preventive treatment, the families are more likely to end up paying for an expensive trip to an emergency department when their child has an allergic reaction.
The Los Angeles Times:
Why Having A Food Allergy Costs More For The Poorest Kids
A new study published this week in Pediatrics found that food-allergic children from households that earn less than $50,000 a year incur 2.5 times the cost of emergency room visits and hospital stays compared with their peers from families that are in a higher-income bracket. Dr. Ruchi Gupta, an associate professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University who led the study, said the findings suggest that caregivers from households with the lowest incomes may not be able to afford preventative treatment for their food-allergic children. This type of treatment -- which is often paid for out of pocket -- includes buying special allergen-free foods, seeing an allergy specialist who can do a full panel of allergy tests, and having an epinephrine auto-injector, such as an EpiPen, on hand. (Netburn, 4/27)
California data mirror the national trend, with suicides by women aged 45 to 64 increasing substantially from 1999 to 2013. Meanwhile, in Redlands, a number of teen suicides raises concerns.
The San Diego Union-Tribune:
Big Increase In Suicides For Middle-Aged Women
In the past 15 years, the national suicide rate has increased 24 percent, a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found. (Wheaton, 4/27)
Spate Of Teen Suicides In Redlands Reflects Disturbing National Trend
A recent spate of teen suicides in Redlands reflects findings from a new report by the Centers for Disease Control showing suicide rates in the U.S. increased by 24 percent from 1999 through 2014. (Nelson, 4/26)
A total of 2,500 medical, dental and psychological professionals will volunteer for the three-day clinic, which starts Wednesday.
Uninsured? Wednesday's Free Health Clinic Will Include Surgery, Mental Health Services
A three-day free mobile health clinic opens Wednesday at the Los Angeles Convention Center, but unlike other mobile clinics, this one will offer more than the usual primary care, eye exams and dental work. (Aguilera, 4/26)
Meanwhile, a Kern County mall food court is shut down due to food safety issues —
The Bakersfield Californian:
Mall Food Court Shut Down Indefinitely
A health inspector eating lunch at Valley Plaza on Tuesday got some unappetizing news from a restaurant staffer: Mall management had told food court tenants not to use water or put anything down their sinks because of a plumbing issue. The tip-off launched an immediate investigation by the Kern County Environmental Health Services Division and ultimately a shutdown of the food court, said agency spokeswoman Michelle Corson. The case, she said, is more complicated than the typical restaurant closure because there are nine food vendors in the food court, all of whom have separate permits from the health department. The mall itself does not require a food permit, but Corson said mall management shares with its tenants a responsibility to protect the public from health risks. (Self, 4/26)
Drug makers have raised prices on brand-name drugs by double-digit percentages since the start of the year, and a recent report by the research firm IMS Health found that in 2015, list prices for drugs increased more than 12 percent.
The New York Times:
Drug Prices Keep Rising Despite Intense Criticism
From the campaign trail to the halls of Congress, drug makers have spent much of the last year enduring withering criticism over the rising cost of drugs. It doesn’t seem to be working. In April alone, Johnson & Johnson raised its prices on several top-selling products, including the leukemia drug Imbruvica, the diabetes treatment Invokana, and Xarelto, an anti-clotting drug, according to a research note published last week by an analyst for Leerink, an investment bank. Other major companies that have raised prices this year include Amgen, Gilead and Celgene, the analyst reported. (Thomas, 4/26)
The New York Times:
The Complex Math Behind Spiraling Prescription Drug Prices
The soaring cost of prescription drugs has generated outrage among politicians and patients. Some cancer drugs carry price tags of more than $100,000 a year, and health plans are increasingly asking people to shoulder a greater share of the cost. In surveys, Americans regularly cite drug prices as a top health care concern, which may be why presidential candidates keep bringing them up. Congress has jumped into the debate, holding a series of hearings on the issue. But there are no simple answers. (Thomas, 4/27)