Antidepressant use nearly doubles the risk of hip fracture among community-dwelling persons with Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study from the University of Eastern Finland. The increased risk was highest at the beginning of antidepressant use and remained elevated even four years later. The findings were published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

For each person with Alzheimer’s disease, two controls without the disease were matched by age and gender. Antidepressant use was associated with two times higher risk of hip fracture among controls. However, the relative number of hip fractures was higher among those with Alzheimer’s disease compared to controls.

The increased risk was associated with all of the most frequently used antidepressant groups, which were selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, mirtazapine, and selective noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors. The association between antidepressant use and the increased risk of hip fracture persisted even after adjusting the results for use of other medication increasing the risk of fall, osteoporosis, socioeconomic status, history of psychiatric diseases, and chronic diseases increasing the risk of fall or fracture.

Antidepressants are used not only for the treatment of depression, but also for the treatment of chronic pain and behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia, including insomnia, anxiety, and agitation. If antidepressant use is necessary, researchers recommend that the medication and its necessity be monitored regularly. In addition, other risk factors for falling should be carefully considered during the antidepressant treatment.

The study was based on the register-based MEDALZ cohort comprising data on all community-dwelling people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in Finland between 2005 and 2011, and their matched controls. The study population included 50,491 individuals with and 100,982 individuals without the disease. The follow-up was four years from the date of Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis or a corresponding date for controls. The mean age of the study population was 80 years.

Source: University of Eastern Finland; January 11, 2017.

Managed Care’s Top Ten Articles of 2016

There’s a lot more going on in health care than mergers (Aetna-Humana, Anthem-Cigna) creating huge players. Hundreds of insurers operate in 50 different states. Self-insured employers, ACA public exchanges, Medicare Advantage, and Medicaid managed care plans crowd an increasingly complex market.

Major health care players are determined to make health information exchanges (HIEs) work. The push toward value-based payment alone almost guarantees that HIEs will be tweaked, poked, prodded, and overhauled until they deliver on their promise. The goal: straight talk from and among tech systems.

They bring a different mindset. They’re willing to work in teams and focus on the sort of evidence-based medicine that can guide health care’s transformation into a system based on value. One question: How well will this new generation of data-driven MDs deal with patients?

The surge of new MS treatments have been for the relapsing-remitting form of the disease. There’s hope for sufferers of a different form of MS. By homing in on CD20-positive B cells, ocrelizumab is able to knock them out and other aberrant B cells circulating in the bloodstream.

A flood of tests have insurers ramping up prior authorization and utilization review. Information overload is a problem. As doctors struggle to keep up, health plans need to get ahead of the development of the technology in order to successfully manage genetic testing appropriately.

Having the data is one thing. Knowing how to use it is another. Applying its computational power to the data, a company called RowdMap puts providers into high-, medium-, and low-value buckets compared with peers in their markets, using specific benchmarks to show why outliers differ from the norm.
Competition among manufacturers, industry consolidation, and capitalization on me-too drugs are cranking up generic and branded drug prices. This increase has compelled PBMs, health plan sponsors, and retail pharmacies to find novel ways to turn a profit, often at the expense of the consumer.
The development of recombinant DNA and other technologies has added a new dimension to care. These medications have revolutionized the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and many of the other 80 or so autoimmune diseases. But they can be budget busters and have a tricky side effect profile.

Shelley Slade
Vogel, Slade & Goldstein

Hub programs have emerged as a profitable new line of business in the sales and distribution side of the pharmaceutical industry that has got more than its fair share of wheeling and dealing. But they spell trouble if they spark collusion, threaten patients, or waste federal dollars.

More companies are self-insuring—and it’s not just large employers that are striking out on their own. The percentage of employers who fully self-insure increased by 44% in 1999 to 63% in 2015. Self-insurance may give employers more control over benefit packages, and stop-loss protects them against uncapped liability.