Archive: October, 2012
Medicare open enrollment starts today and runs through Dec. 7. Part D, the prescription drug portion, is among the crucial pieces.
A link to medicare.gov is here.
Whether you're eligible or not, any adult taking medicine on a regular basis should use this occasion to examine or re-examine their medicine bottles and make a list of what they take. Keep one in your wallet or purse.
GlaxoSmithKline said it will make clinical trial data available to other researchers, breaking from the practice of other pharmaceutical companies which claim such data as proprietary business information.
GSK will also open its tuberculosis compound library to help stimulate research on how to fight that global killer.
“As a truly global healthcare company, I believe we have a responsibility to do all we can at GSK to use our resources, knowledge and expertise to help tackle serious global health challenges," GSK chief executive Andrew Witty said in a statement. "However, the complexity of the science and the scale of the challenge mean that we cannot solve these problems alone. We need to take a different approach – one focused on partnership, collaboration and openness. By being more open with our clinical trial data, we also hope to help further scientific understanding. I am pleased with the progress we have made so far to evolve our business model but we recognise there is more we can do and the new initiatives outlined today will enable us to build on this work."
The Associated press and other outlets reported that a second compounding pharmacy, albeit also connected to New England Compounding Center, closed in the wake of investigations around the fungal meningitis outbreak.
Meanwhile, Inquirer colleague Don Sapatkin reported that a second New Jersey resident was hospitalized with symptoms. A link to that story is here.
The AP story from late Wednesday is below:
Merck said Tuesday morning that its cost-cutting efforts will now include closing its global headquarters building in Whitehouse Station, N.J. and moving those functions to Summit, N.J.
Though the company is staying in New Jersey, the move 25 to 30 miles east (depending on the route you drive) will mean a longer commute for some of the employees who live in Pennsylvania so they can pay less in taxes.
The company said about 2,000 employees and contractors currently situated at the Whitehouse Station will move to the facilities in Summit or to other nearby facilities such as those in Branchburg, N.J. and Cokesbury, N.J.
Four former executives of medical device manufacturer Synthes, Inc., who went to federal prison for their role in an illegal clinical trial of bone cement, are out of prison now but probably won't be working in health care anytime soon.
Michael Huggins, Thomas Higgins, Richard Bohner and John Walsh were officially excluded from federal health-care programs on Tuesday, meaning no company employing them will be eligible to receive reimbursement for services or drugs through programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. Given the private sector's dependence on government money, companies rarely hire people on the excluded list.
The Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health & Human Services has been implementing exclusions since about 1981. HHS began imposing the penalties in 1977. A link to the OIG site is here.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday the fungal meningitis outbreak attributed to a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy amounted to 105 cases in nine states with eight deaths, but allowed for the possibility that 13,000 patients might have received products from the company.
The company, New England Compounding Pharmacy, Inc. - also known as New England Compounding Center (NECC) - ceased operations over the weekend and recalled all of its products.
The CDC summarized the situation this way:
With the Major League Baseball playoffs now in full swing, the New England Journal of Medicine's piece entitled, "Moneyball and Medicine," provides an admirable comparison of changing approaches in baseball and medicine.
In baseball, Michael Lewis' book, "Moneyball," explained how the Oakland Athletics built playoff teams by using statistical analysis that other teams were not - or at least not until the A's started making the playoffs on regular basis. The A's, who won the American League's West Division this year, took this approach because they did not have the money to try to outspend the New York Yankees (or now the Phillies.).
In the NEJM story, authors Christopher J. Phillips, Ph.D., Jeremy A. Greene, M.D., Ph.D., and Scott H. Podolsky, M.D., point out that the American healthcare system was spending like the Yankees. But now with money tight, more careful analysis and implementation of best practices -- evidence-based medicine - is required. Such approaches often mean better care for patients.
The big news for Teva Pharmaceuticals this week was.......still no shovels in the ground in North Philly.
Ok, yes, the world's biggest seller of generic pharmaceuticals had other issues to deal with and we'll get there in a minute.
But first things first.