Wearable sensors that monitor heart rate, activity, skin temperature, and other variables can reveal a lot about what is going on inside a person––including the onset of infection, inflammation, and even insulin resistance, according to a study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

This is one of those anecdotes that make you stop and think, and then worry. A woman died in September in Reno, Nev., of a superbug that resisted 26 different kinds of antibiotics, the CDC reported yesterday in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

IBM Watson Health and the FDA have launched a research initiative aimed at defining a secure, efficient, and scalable exchange of health data using blockchain technology.

A new therapy in development for the treatment of midgut neuroendocrine tumors, a rare cancer that occurs in the small intestine and colon, shows improved progression-free survival (PFS) and response rates for patients with advanced disease.

People with early schizophrenia are at an increased risk of developing diabetes, even when the effects of antipsychotic drugs, diet, and exercise are taken out of the equation, according to an analysis by researchers from King’s College London.

A low-cost epinephrine autoinjector, the authorized generic for Adrenaclick manufactured by Impax Laboratories, is now available at all CVS Pharmacy locations at a cash price of $109.99 for a two-pack. This compares to a cash price of $649.99 for Mylan’s EpiPen and $339.99 for Mylan’s authorized generic for EpiPen.

The U.S. Senate has taken a first concrete step toward dismantling the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), informally known as Obamacare, by voting to instruct key committees to draft legislation repealing President Barack Obama's signature health insurance program.

Cigna has jumped into the ongoing EpiPen controversy with both feet with its decision to not cover the brand version of the product without first giving prior authorization, STAT reports.

As national vaccination rates for the human papillomavirus (HPV) remain low, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center has united with the 68 other National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer centers in issuing a joint statement endorsing recently revised vaccination recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Sickle cell disease and the blood disorder beta thalassemia affect more than 180,000 Americans. Both diseases can be made milder or even cured by increasing fetal hemoglobin (HbF) levels, but current treatment to ramp up HbF has limited effectiveness.

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 National Cancer Institute (NCI) has launched a new drug formulary (the “NCI Formulary”) that will enable investigators at NCI-designated cancer centers to have quicker access to approved and investigational agents for use in preclinical studies and cancer clinical trials.

Vaccine critic Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has accepted Donald Trump’s invitation to chair a panel on vaccine safety and scientific integrity, according to an article posted on the STAT website. “President-elect Trump has some doubts about the current vaccine policies, and he has questions about it,” Kennedy told reporters.

President-elect Donald Trump made his feelings about Obamacare crystal clear yesterday, telling the New York Times that he wants the ACA repealed and replaced quickly—as in very quickly. As in, do it in two weeks, Congress.

Speed seems to be the theme these days when it comes to approval of medications. The first step is knocking down the obstacles that delay getting new, potentially life-saving medications to the market. That’s especially true in oncology.


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.