‘Bill Of The Month’: A College Student’s $17,850 Drug Test

This is the debut of a monthly feature from Kaiser Health News and NPR that will dissect and explain real medical bills in order to shed light on U.S. health care prices and to help patients learn how to be more active in managing costs. Do you have a medical bill that you’d like us to see and scrutinize? Submit it here and tell us the story behind it.

AstraZeneca’s immunotherapy drug wins key lung cancer approval

LONDON (Reuters) – AstraZeneca’s immunotherapy drug Imfinzi has won crucial approval from U.S. regulators for use in lung cancer, opening up a multibillion-dollar market for a medicine that has so far lagged behind competitors.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said late on Friday it granted approval for expanded use of Imfinzi to treat non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients with inoperable mid-stage disease that has not spread widely around the body.

Imfinzi is the first immunotherapy to be approved in this setting.

Gilead wins reversal of $2.54 billion hepatitis C drug patent verdict

(Reuters) – A federal judge in Delaware has overturned a jury’s verdict requiring Gilead Sciences Inc to pay a record $2.54 billion because its hepatitis C drugs Sovaldi and Harvoni infringed a patent held by rival Merck & Co Inc.

The verdict had been the largest ever in a U.S. patent case but U.S. District Judge Leonard Stark in Wilmington, Delaware, on Friday ruled Merck’s patent was invalid. He said it did not meet a requirement that it disclose how to make the treatment it covered without undue experimentation.

In An Effort To Curb Drug Costs, States Advance Bills To Prod Feds On Importation

Norm Thurston is a “free-market guy” — a conservative health economist in Republican-run Utah who rarely sees the government’s involvement in anything as beneficial.

But in a twist, the state lawmaker is now pushing for Utah to flex its muscle to spur federal action on ever-climbing prescription drug prices.

“This is something that a red state like Utah could do. I don’t think this is a partisan issue,” Thurston said. “Those outrageous cost increases are not the result of the free market.”

Shares of Apricus tank after FDA declines to OK erectile dysfunction cream

(Reuters) – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday declined to approve Apricus Biosciences Inc’s Vitaros, a cream to treat erectile dysfunction, for the second time in a decade, sending the company’s shares down more than 70 percent before the opening bell.

The drugmaker was hoping to sell Vitaros, possibly through commercial partner Allergan Plc, to patients unable to use oral medications and also looking for less invasive existing options.

Apricus is set to lose about 74 percent of its market value, which stood at nearly $49 million as of Thursday’s close.

Novartis readies to auction U.S. generic pills business: sources

(Reuters) – Switzerland’s Novartis AG (NOVN.S) is preparing to auction its U.S. generic pill business, looking to shed a unit that has struggled amid fierce price competition, people familiar with the matter said on Friday.

The move illustrates how the unit has diverged from the fortunes of the rest of Novartis’ $10 billion Sandoz generics and biosimilars division. The company has fared better in manufacturing hard-to-make generic drugs, such as injectables and inhalables, than it has with easier to produce pills.

Drug Might Be Safer Alternative to Ease Dementia Psychosis

News Picture: Drug Might Be Safer Alternative to Ease Dementia Psychosis

Latest Alzheimers News

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 14, 2018 (HealthDay News) — The “overmedication” of agitated dementia patients — with the use of powerful antipsychotic drugs — is an ongoing issue in U.S. health care.

Now, British researchers say they may have found a medicine that helps ease those symptoms, but in a much safer way.

The newer antipsychotic pimavanserin appears to ease psychosis symptoms in people with Alzheimer’s disease without the serious side effects caused by current antipsychotics, according to a study funded by the drug’s maker.

High blood pressure drug may also help prevent onset of type 1 diabetes

February 15, 2018

A drug commonly used to control high blood pressure may also help prevent the onset of type 1 diabetes in up to 60 percent of those at risk for the disease, according to researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and the University of Florida in Gainesville.

The study was published online this week in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

“This is the first personalized treatment for type 1 diabetes prevention,” said Aaron Michels, MD, a researcher at the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes and associate professor of medicine at CU Anschutz. “We made this discovery using a supercomputer, on the lab bench, in mice and in humans.”

Podcast: KHN’s ‘What The Health?’ What Do The Budget, Idaho And FDA Chief Scott Gottlieb Have In Common?

President Donald Trump released his first full budget proposal this week, with many recommended cuts and some major changes to health programs. But Congress has already agreed on most spending levels for next year, so this budget is even more likely to be ignored than a typical presidential budget plan.

Meanwhile, states are trying to cope with last year’s changes to the Affordable Care Act in very different ways. Several states, mostly led by Democrats, are considering whether to set penalties for people who don’t have insurance — a provision of the ACA that Congress repealed in December. Idaho, meanwhile, is offering to let insurers sell plans that don’t cover the ACA’s required set of benefits and discriminate against people with preexisting health conditions.

Idaho Blue Cross Jumps Into Controversial Market For Plans That Bypass ACA Rules

That didn’t take long.

It’s barely been two weeks since Idaho regulators said they would allow the sale of health insurance that does not meet all of the Affordable Care Act’s requirements — a controversial step some experts said would likely draw legal scrutiny and, potentially, federal fines for any insurer that jumped in.

On Wednesday, Blue Cross of Idaho unveiled a menu of new health plans that break with federal health law rules in several ways, including setting premiums based on applicants’ health.