Situational awareness: Opioid manufacturer Insys has agreed to pay $225 million to settle federal investigations into allegations that it illegally marketed its fentanyl spray, AP reports.
Today's Vitals is 721 words, <3 minutes.
HHS Secretary Alex Azar, President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
The Trump administration announced yesterday that it will no longer fund medical research that uses fetal tissue, drawing the ire of scientists and research groups.
The National Institutes of Health funds about 200 external research products that use fetal tissue, which will be unaffected. There are only 3 NIH-run projects that will be impacted.
What they're saying: While the move is supported by anti-abortion advocates, scientists say it's an impediment to finding new medical treatments.
While scientists say that there is no equally effective alternative to fetal tissue in research, opponents of its use say that some newer methods show potential, the Post reports.
Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley said yesterday that drug and insurance companies should cover more of seniors' drug costs.
"There's an incentive for the insurance companies and for the pharmaceutical companies to get people into catastrophic very soon... We want to take away that incentive by having the insurance companies and the pharmaceuticals pay a greater part of the cost," Grassley said at an Axios event.
A lot of experts agree with Grassley and say that Part D's incentives need to be reworked.
My thought bubble: The drug industry lobbied hard against a change to Part D last year that made pharma pay more to close Part D's "donut hole." Paying for part of the catastrophic phase would likely cost them even more.
Here's some rare good news regarding the opioid epidemic:
By the numbers: Queries made to state PDMPs increased by about 650% between 2014 and 2018. That means doctors are checking patients' prescription history before giving them more opioids.
Yes, but: While the medical community has become deeply engaged in combating the epidemic, illegal drugs like heroin and fentanyl have replaced prescription opioids as the main cause of opioid deaths.
A second lab diagnostic company has disclosed that the data of millions of patients has been hacked, Bloomberg reports, meaning about 20 million people have had their health care data compromised.
The data compromise has drawn the attention of Sen. Mark Warner, a cybersecurity advocate.
A patient advocacy organization sent a letter yesterday to the Federal Trade Commission asking it to investigate industry behavior that hinders biosimilars from competing with biologics.
What they're saying: "We will not have a viable biosimilar market if brand drug companies are able to pay huge kickbacks to PBMs and insurers to block biosimilar uptake," the group, Patients For Affordable Drugs Now, wrote in the letter.