How A Drug Company Under Pressure For High Prices Ratchets Up Political Activity

Business looked challenging for Novo Nordisk at the end of 2016. As pressure mounted over the pharma giant’s soaring insulin prices, investors drove its stock down by a third on fears that policymakers would take action, limit prices and hurt profits.

Then things got worse. A Massachusetts law firm sued the company and two other pharma firms on behalf of patients, claiming that high insulin prices of hundreds of dollars a month forced diabetics to starve themselves to minimize their blood sugar while skimping on doses. At least five states began investigating insulin makers and their business partners.

Tax-Funded Mental Health Programs Not Always Easy To Find

Back in 2008, Mary Hogden was homeless, living on the streets of Berkeley, Calif.

“I got beat up really badly out there,” says Hogden, 62. “It’s not a safe place for women.”

She landed in the hospital and then in a boarding home for adults with mental illness. But her big break came when she started volunteering for a mental health program called the Pool of Consumer Champions, run by Alameda County.

FDA clears Pluristem radiation treatment for emergency use

HAIFA, Israel (Reuters) – Pluristem Therapeutics Inc, a developer of placenta-based stem cell products, said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has cleared the emergency use of its therapy to treat acute radiation exposure in a nuclear event.

FILE PHOTO – Biologists work in a laboratory at Pluristem Theraputics in Haifa, Israel March 6, 2016. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Pluristem said it will start preparations to keep an emergency stock of PLX-R18 on hand for use in such events.

CMS Encourages Eligible Suppliers to Participate in Expanded Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program Model

April 30
by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

By CMS Administrator Seema Verma

Nationally expanded performance-based payment model now enrolling service suppliers

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in April expanded the Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program (MDPP), a national performance-based payment model offering a new approach to type 2 diabetes prevention in eligible Medicare beneficiaries with an indication of pre-diabetes. For the first time, both traditional healthcare providers and community-based organizations can enroll as Medicare suppliers of health behavior change services. This innovative model promotes patient-centered care and continues to test market-driven reforms to drive quality of care and improve outcomes for America’s seniors, more than a quarter of whom have type 2 diabetes.

Improving the Diagnosis of Cardiac Sarcoidosis

April 30, 2018

An interview with Dr. Nadera Sweiss, MD, FACR, conducted by Kate Anderton, BSc

What is cardiac sarcoidosis?

Cardiac sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease of the heart that results in various clinical manifestations. It is characterized by the presence of granulomas in the heart, which may be the first manifestation of sarcoidosis.

Credit: Liya Graphics/

How often is sarcoidosis present in other areas of the body in addition to the heart?

Sarcoidosis as an inflammatory disease that commonly involves various organs in the body, basically from head to toe. Patients quite often show signs of sarcoidosis in the brain, lungs, heart, liver and joints.

Obesity associated with more rapid progression of disability in rheumatoid arthritis patients

April 30, 2018

In a study of adults with rheumatoid arthritis, those who were severely obese experienced more rapidly progressing disability than patients who were overweight. This was not explained by features of their arthritis, including the amount of inflammation in their joints. In the Arthritis Care & Research study, weight loss after enrollment was also associated with worsening disability, possibly as a sign of frailty.

To examine the effects of obesity in patients with rheumatoid arthritis over time, Joshua Baker, MD, MSCE, of the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and his colleagues examined information on 23,323 patients with rheumatoid arthritis from the National Data Bank of the Rheumatic Diseases and 1697 from the Veterans Affairs RA registry.

Best Reads Of The Week From Brianna Labuskes

Happy Friday! If you’re like me, you’re hooked on the The Golden State Killer case, where investigators used a genealogy website to hunt down their suspect. (And if you’re also a health wonk like me, you’ll want to check out this story on what privacy concerns the investigators’ strategy sparked.)

On to the rest of the best from the week.

Ninety-eight now sick from romaine lettuce-linked E. coli: CDC

(Reuters) – Fourteen more people fell ill from an E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce, U.S. health officials said on Friday, bringing the number of people affected to 98 across 22 U.S. states.

Romaine lettuce grows near Soledad, California, U.S., May 3, 2017. REUTERS/Michael Fiala

The reported strain of E. coli, which produces poisonous substances known as Shiga toxins, can cause severe abdominal cramps, bloody diarrhea and vomiting.

The outbreak that began last month is now the largest multi-state Shiga toxin-producing outbreak since 2006, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.

Allergan migraine drug succeeds in second late-stage trial

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Allergan Plc on Friday announced positive results from a second Phase III trial for the 50 milligram dose of its drug for acute migraine, reproducing results from the previous trial.

The Allergan logo is seen in this photo illustration November 23, 2015. REUTERS/Thomas White/Illustration/File Photo

A lower dose of the drug, ubrogepant, failed to meet one of the study’s two main goals, the company said.

Wall Street is focused on the company’s pipeline of drugs in development as Allergan faces new, cheaper competition for its Restasis eye treatment and Namenda XR for Alzheimer’s disease. Allergan has said that it believes the migraine drug could reasonably bring in $500 million a year.

Dissecting the rhetoric vs. reality of Trump’s tough talk on drug prices

April 27, 2018

Trump promised a speech on prescription drug prices, and it’s expected anytime.

Here’s a look at the rhetoric thus far versus the results.

You’ll be seeing drug prices falling very substantially in the not-too-distant future, and it’s going to be beautiful.

Trump, March 19, 2018, at Manchester (N.H.) Community College

What’s Happening: