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Brief View of the Latest Healthcare Industry_Issue12

Sep-Dec, 2016

Doctors Spending in Excess of $32,000 on Health IT

Doctors are spending more than $32,000 per year on health information technology (IT), according to an article published in Medical Economics. Results from the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) survey suggest that medical groups spend more than $32,500 per year for every full-time doctor in their practice. Multisite practices incur additional costs for salaries of IT support staff and equipment, maintenance, and supplies. Between 2009 and 2015, costs for IT increased by 40 percent, with the biggest increases seen in 2010 and 2011; costs can be expected to continue increasing at considerable rates. IT plays a crucial role in helping health care organizations to evolve in order to provide higher quality, value-based care, and physicians are looking to use technology to improve practice management and to avoid government meaningful use penalties.

New Drug Target for Asthma, Autoimmune Disorders Identified

Using a new tool for probing the molecular makeup of cells, researchers have discovered that PD-1 - a marker that already serves as a drug target for some cancers - may also serve as a drug target for asthma and other autoimmune disorders. The researchers, led by a group from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in the United Kingdom, report their work in the journal Nature. In the new study, the researchers examine a recently discovered group of cells in the immune system called innate lymphoid cells (ILC cells). Within this group, there is a subgroup called ILC2 cells that influences immune responses during infections and asthma.

A Stem Cell Gene Found to Command Skeletal Muscle Regeneration

Prox1 gene has long been known to play an important role in fetal development. Finnish researchers have now discovered that Prox1 is essential also for skeletal muscle stem cell differentiation. Skeletal muscles are important not only for locomotion but also for the regulation of whole-body metabolism. Muscles have remarkable capacity to regenerate after injury and to adapt in response to exercise training. Researchers from Wihuri Research Institute and the University of Helsinki, Finland, have now found that skeletal muscle stem cells called satellite cells also express the Prox1 gene. The new surprising results of the study, published in Nature Communications, show that satellite cells differentiate into myofibres only when Prox1 is active.

G.O.P. Plans to Replace Health Care Law with ‘Universal Access’

House Republicans, responding to criticism that repealing the Affordable Care Act would leave millions without health insurance, said that their goal in replacing President Obama’s health law was to guarantee “universal access” to health care and coverage, not necessarily to ensure that everyone actually has insurance. In defending the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration, congressional Democrats and advocacy groups have focused on the 20 million people covered by the law, which has pushed the percentage of Americans without health insurance to record lows. The American Medical Association recently said that “any new reform proposal should not cause individuals currently covered to become uninsured.”

Harnessing the U.S. Taxpayer to Fight Cancer and Make Profits

Dr. Belldegrun, a physician, co-founded Kite Pharma, a company that could be the first to market next year with a highly anticipated new immunotherapy treatment. But even without a product, Dr. Belldegrun has struck gold. His stock in Kite is worth about $170 million. Investors have profited along with him, as the company’s share price has soared to about $50 from an initial price of $17 in 2014. The results reflect widespread excitement over immunotherapy, which harnesses the body’s immune system to attack cancer and has rescued some patients from near-certain death. But they also speak volumes about the value of Kite’s main scientific partner: the United States government.

States Sue Generic-Drug Companies over Price-Fixing Allegations

Twenty state attorneys general sued a group of generic-drug companies Thursday, accusing them of colluding to fix prices on an antibiotic and a diabetes medication, in violation of federal antitrust law. The suit comes a day after price-fixing charges against former executives at one of the drug makers were unsealed in a Justice Department antitrust probe. The attorneys general, including Connecticut’s George Jepsen and New York’s Eric Schneiderman, alleged in a suit filed in Connecticut federal court that six companies conspired to manipulate prices for doxycycline hyclate, an antibiotic, and glyburide, used in the treatment of diabetes.

U.S. Health Spending in 2015 Averaged Nearly $10,000 per Person

Total spending on health care in the United States increased last year at the fastest rate since the 2008 recession, reaching $3.2 trillion, or an average of nearly $10,000 a person, the Department of Health and Human Services reported. The growth coincided with continuing increases in the number of Americans with insurance coverage, through private health plans or Medicaid. Federal spending on health care has increased by 21 percent over the past two years, as millions of Americans gained coverage through the Affordable Care Act, the department said in its annual report on health spending.

Johnson & Johnson Must Pay 6 Implant Patients $1 Billion

A federal jury in Dallas on Thursday ordered Johnson & Johnson and its DePuy Orthopaedics unit to pay more than $1 billion to six plaintiffs who said they were injured by Pinnacle hip implants, a lawyer for the plaintiffs said. The jurors found that the metal-on-metal Pinnacle hip implants were defectively designed, and that the companies did not warn consumers of the risks. The six plaintiffs are California residents who were implanted with the hip devices and experienced tissue death, bone erosion and other injuries they attributed to design flaws. The plaintiffs claim the companies promoted the devices as lasting longer than devices that include ceramic or plastic materials. Johnson & Johnson and DePuy are facing nearly 8,400 Pinnacle-related lawsuits, which have been consolidated in federal court in Texas. Test cases have been selected for trial, and the outcomes will help gauge the value of the remaining claims.

Expect Medicaid to Change, but Not Shrivel, Under Donald Trump

The expansion of Medicaid, a central pillar of the Affordable Care Act, faces immense uncertainty next year, with President-elect Donald J. Trump and top Republicans in Congress embracing proposals that could leave millions of poorer Americans without health insurance and jeopardize a major element of President Obama’s legacy. But influential figures in surprising quarters of the new administration might balk at a broad rollback of Medicaid’s reach, favoring new conditions for access to the government insurance program for the poor but not wholesale cutbacks. Mike Pence, the vice president-elect, is proud of the Medicaid expansion he engineered as governor of Indiana, one of 31 states that expanded eligibility under the Affordable Care Act. The Indiana program has conservative features that emphasize “personal responsibility” and require Medicaid beneficiaries to make monthly contributions to savings accounts earmarked for health care.

Merck Snags Record $2.54B in Second Hep C patent Verdict Against Gilead

An ongoing patent infringement battle between Merck and Gilead over the latter’s hepatitis C blockbusters, Harvoni and Sovaldi, has swung back in Merck’s favor. A federal jury in Wilmington, Delaware, yesterday rejected Gilead’s claim that Merck’s patent, issued in 2009, is invalid and ordered Gilead to pay Merck $2.54 billion—the equivalent of 10% royalties on Harvoni and Sovaldi. It was the largest verdict in a patentinfringement case in U.S. history, according to Bloomberg, and it came just four months after a different court ruled against Merck in a separate patent battle involving Gilead’s hep C crown jewels.

Allergan eyes depression as blockbuster Botox’s next big stage

Allergan’s planning to keep the label expansions coming for blockbuster Botox, which already boasts a range of indications in both the therapeutic and aesthetic spheres. And the company is eyeing depression as the product’s next frontier. The Dublin drugmaker is wrapping up a phase 2 study of its star, based on investigator-initiated trials done in Germany that showed a single administration of Botox could match other antidepressants from an efficacy standpoint. Allergan anticipates getting its hands on the data at some point next year, and if it can replicate the German findings, “it’s going to be really valuable in psychotherapy, no doubt,” company R&D chief David Nicholson told FiercePharma in an interview.

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