Use of generic versions of older drugs instead of updated brand-name medications launched by pharmaceutical firms to replace their off-patent products could have saved Medicare Part D an estimated $17.7 billion from 2011 to 2017, according to a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Studies have shown that the updated drugs provide little or no therapeutic advantage.
Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Maine and MaineHealth formed a joint venture called AMH Health to offer Medicare Advantage health plans to the state's senior residents, and they plan to start selling the plans in the enrollment period this fall. The goal of the venture is "to make it easier for Maine seniors to receive high-quality, affordable health care in their communities through a broad network of care providers offering a wide range of services," said Tomas Orozco, president of Anthem's Medicare East Region.
The closure of Mercy Hospital Fort Scott in Fort Scott, Kan., and over 110 other rural hospitals nationwide since 2010 has left rural residents scrambling for emergency care services, and one of them was Fort Scott resident Robert Findley, who died after falling on the ice during a winter storm this year. Due to the closure of Mercy Hospital, Findley had to be transported by an air ambulance to a neurology center 90 miles north in Kansas City, Mo., but at least three air ambulances declined the call before one accepted.
Some people seeking health insurance through publicly run exchanges will have more options for the 2020 plan year as more insurers offer plans in more areas. Some also have reduced premiums.
The median price increase on brand-name drugs was 5% through July, compared with 9% to 10% during the same period over the past four years, according to an Associated Press analysis of Elsevier data. There were 4,483 price increases in the first seven months of 2019 -- 36% fewer than the first seven months of 2015 -- and an Elsevier expert said some drugmakers that customarily raise prices midyear did not do so this year.
Biogen, Eli Lilly and Co., Amgen, Merck and Gilead are among big drugmakers flush with cash for a potential acquisition. Pfizer has said it is not in the market for a large merger or acquisition but has signaled interest in complementary "bolt-on" deals.
Nabriva Therapeutics set the list price at $275 per day for the oral version of Xenleta, its newly approved antibiotic for community-acquired pneumonia. The injectable version is $205 per day.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., introduced the Automatic IRA Act of 2019, which would require employers that have more than 10 workers but do not have a qualified retirement plan to automatically enroll employees in an automatic payroll deduction Individual Retirement Account. Employees could opt out of the Auto-IRA, and employers would get tax credits to help pay for setting up the accounts.
Wisconsin state lawmakers are seeking co-sponsors for a bill to expand Medicaid coverage of telehealth, allowing the program to cover more than 50 additional telehealth services. The legislation would expand telehealth originating sites to include a patient's home and other non-clinical settings.