The price of insulin nearly tripled between 2006 and 2017, but commercially insured patients' out-of-pocket costs remained stable, according to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine. "Health insurers are absorbing most of the price of insulin, but this likely contributes to rising health insurance premiums, a burden that affects all of us, but especially the poor," said study leader Amir Meiri.
The FDA added Pfizer's antidepressant drug Zoloft and generic sertraline to the list of drugs in short supply amid a spike in demand as the pandemic takes a toll on mental health. Generic-drug companies that make sertraline said they have had difficulty securing enough of the active pharmaceutical ingredient used to make the drug, while Pfizer makes its own API but said some bottles and formulations are in short supply.
A study in Health Affairs found black patients with COVID-19 were more likely to be hospitalized and transferred to intensive care units than non-Hispanic white patients. The findings, based on analysis of 1,052 confirmed COVID-19 cases at California-based Sutter Health, "may indicate that African Americans have more advanced or severe illness at the time of presenting for COVID-19 testing and medical care," researchers noted.
A study involving 34 COVID-19 patients admitted to the intensive care unit of a French hospital found that 79% of the group developed lower extremity deep vein thrombosis, researchers reported in the journal JAMA Network Open. "Such high prevalence of DVT in critically ill patients is truly staggering despite the fact that all patients have received usual DVT [preventive medications] ahead of ICU admission," said cardiologist Dr. Maja Zaric, who did not play a role in the study.
Gilead Sciences reported that a late-stage study of remdesivir found a five-day course of treatment provided a modest benefit to patients who had moderate COVID-19 infections. The nearly 600-patient study found that 76% of remdesivir-treated patients showed improvement by day 11, compared with 66% for standard care alone.
The CMS said it will raise financial penalties for nursing homes that persistently violated infection control practices, and it will reduce aid to states that fail to complete their focused infection control surveys of nursing homes within 30 days of the deadline. Nursing homes have been hot spots for COVID-19 transmission, resulting in nearly 26,000 deaths among residents and nearly 450 deaths among staff.
The IRS has extended certain filing deadlines for some employee benefit plans, individual retirement accounts, education savings accounts, health savings accounts and medical savings counts due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. The revised deadlines may differ by program.
Georgia resident Paul Penn was charged with trying to sell 50 million N95 masks that didn't exist to a foreign government. Authorities said Penn, through his company Spectrum Global Holdings, acted as a middleman and negotiated the sale of the masks, which was over 500% higher than average market value, and was wired $317 million by the unidentified government as payment, but was intercepted by the US Secret Service.
Christopher West, a certified registered nurse anesthetist from Charles City, Iowa, was sentenced to 34 months in prison and was ordered to pay $15,000 fine and $31,998 in restitution after pleading guilty to one count of tampering with a consumer product and one count of illegally acquiring a controlled substance. Authorities said West tampered with 28 vials of fentanyl and 15 vials of sufentanil, and administered different anesthetics to a patient to access narcotics for his personal use.
Willie Barnes of St. Petersburg, Fla., was arrested and is facing multiple charges including one count of Medicaid fraud. Authorities said Barnes, who owns and operates Barnes Holistic Counseling Therapies, received over $15,000 in Medicaid payments for therapy services that were never provided, billed Medicaid for therapy services using a former employee's information and offered kickbacks for patient retention and referrals.
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