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KHN First Edition: April 15, 2016


First Edition

Friday, April 15, 2016
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

Today's early morning highlights from the major news organizations.

Kaiser Health News: Tainted Scope Infections Far Exceed Earlier Estimates
Kaiser Health News staff writer Chad Terhune reports: "The number of potentially deadly infections from contaminated medical scopes is far higher than what federal officials previously estimated, a new congressional investigation shows. As many as 350 patients at 41 medical facilities in the U.S. and worldwide were infected or exposed to tainted gastrointestinal scopes from Jan. 1, 2010, to Oct. 31, 2015, according to the Food and Drug Administration. A separate Senate investigation released in January found 250 scope-related infections at 25 hospitals and clinics in the U.S. and Europe. That probe looked at a narrower period, from 2012 to 2015." (Terhune, 4/15)

Kaiser Health News: Rise In Oncologists Working For Hospitals Spurs Higher Chemo Costs: Study
Kaiser Health News consumer columnist Michelle Andrews writes: "If you have cancer, chances are your outpatient chemotherapy treatment costs are higher if your oncologist works for a health care system than if she has her own practice, a recent study found. The study by the Health Care Cost Institute, a nonprofit research organization, analyzed private health insurance claims and national data about consolidation among doctors and hospitals between 2008 and 2013. It found significant consolidation between outpatient oncology practices and health care systems in the decade leading up to 2013. The researchers linked that to a rise in spending on drug-based cancer care. Each 1-percentage-point increase in the proportion of medical providers who were affiliated with a hospital or health system was associated with a 34 percent increase in annual average spending per person on outpatient cancer drug treatment, they reported." (Andrews, 4/15)

Kaiser Health News: Most Doctors Unsure How To Discuss End-Of-Life Care, Survey Says
Barbara Feder Ostrov, for Kaiser Health News, reports: "Doctors know it’s important to talk with their patients about end-of-life care. But they’re finding it tough to start those conversations — and when they do, they’re not sure what to say, according to a national poll released Thursday. Such discussions are becoming more important as baby boomers reach their golden years. By 2030, an estimated 72 million Americans will be 65 or over, nearly one-fifth of the U.S. population." (Feder Ostrov, 4/14)

The New York Times: Zika Virus Can Be Transmitted Through Anal Sex, C.D.C. Says
The Zika virus can be transmitted by anal sex as well as vaginal sex, according to a report issued on Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency described a case of man-to-man sexual transmission in January. The case, which was previously disclosed by health officials in Texas without identifying the genders of the partners, was the first known case of sexual transmission of Zika within the United States in the current epidemic. It involved a Dallas resident who became infected with Zika through a mosquito bite while visiting Venezuela and then infected his male partner through unprotected sex upon his return. Both had relatively mild symptoms, and blood was not detected in either man’s semen. (McNeil, 4/14)

The Wall Street Journal: CDC Confirms Sexual Transmission Of Zika Virus Involved Two Men
Semen samples from both patients showed no evidence of the virus, so it is still unclear how long the virus persists and how it is shed from semen, said John T. Brooks, a co-author of the report and a medical epidemiologist in the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention at the CDC’s National Center for HIV, Hepatitis, TB and STD Prevention. Dr. Brooks said the case study should encourage doctors to report any suspected cases of Zika to health officials. “Every piece of data we have helps,” he said. (Long, 4/14)

NPR: Zika Virus Can Be Transmitted Through Anal Sex, Too
During a previous outbreak, the virus was detected in the semen of one man two months after his fever had set in. In a more recent case, researchers found the virus in the semen of a French traveler two weeks after he'd been sick (there was a lot more virus in semen than there was in blood or urine, leading them to wonder if the virus can replicate in the male genital tract). (Bichell, 4/14)

The New York Times: Health Officials Split Over Advice On Pregnancy In Zika Areas
As the Zika virus bears down on the United States, federal health officials are divided over a politically and ethically charged question: Should they advise American women to delay pregnancy in areas where the virus is circulating? Some infectious disease experts are arguing that avoiding conception is the only sure way to prevent the births of deformed babies, according to outside researchers who serve on various advisory panels. Women’s health specialists, on the other hand, counter that the government should not tell women what to do with their bodies. (McNeil, 4/14)

The Associated Press: New Tests For Choosing Right Hep C Drug Could Save Money
New tests designed to help doctors pick the right hepatitis C medicine for patients could mean faster cures and lower costs. Quest Diagnostics Inc.’s latest two tests can predict whether two recently approved medicines — Zepatier and Daklinza —will fight a patient’s specific type of hepatitis C or whether the liver-destroying virus likely would “resist” them. Several months ago, Quest had launched other tests to help doctors decide if four older medicines would suit patients. (Johnson, 4/14)

The Associated Press: N.Y. Attorney General Sues Insurer Over Hepatitis C Treatment
New York's attorney general has filed a lawsuit against an Albany-area health insurer that he says broke the law by denying coverage for expensive hepatitis C treatments until patients showed advanced symptoms of the disease such as moderate to severe liver scarring. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced the suit against Capital District Physicians' Health Plan on Thursday. (4/14)

The Wall Street Journal: FDA To Review Bristol-Myers’s Opdivo For Hodgkin Lymphoma
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has accepted Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.’s supplemental biologics license application to expand the use of its cancer drug Opdivo to patients who are facing difficult-to-treat variations of Hodgkin lymphoma, the pharmaceutical company said Thursday. Bristol-Myers wants to use Opdivo to treat patients with classical Hodgkin lymphoma—a type of cancer that most often starts in the lymph nodes—who have already tried other therapies. (Hufford, 4/14)

NPR: Nurses Say Stress Interferes With Caring For Their Patients
Nursing has long been considered one of the most stressful professions, according to a review of research by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2012. Nurses and researchers say it comes down to organizational problems in hospitals worldwide. That includes cuts in staffing; some California nurses struck last month for a week over low staffing and wages. But some researchers say that just hiring more people won't fix things. Other proposed solutions include restructuring hospitals so that administrators pay more attention to what nurses have to say about patient care and work flow, and training programs to help nurses relieve their stress and deal with ethical dilemmas. (Yu, 4/15)

The Washington Post: More And More Doctors Want To Make Marijuana Legal
A group of more than 50 physicians, including a former surgeon general and faculty members at some of the nation's leading medical schools, has formed the first national organization of doctors to call on states and the federal government to legalize and regulate the use of marijuana in the interest of public health. The group — which is announcing its formation Friday, under the name Doctors for Cannabis Regulation (DFCR) — is endorsing the legalization of marijuana for adult recreational use, a break from the position of the American Medical Association, the largest organization of doctors in the country. (Ingraham, 4/15)

The Washington Post: Va.’s Top Pharmacy Official Questioned Legality Of Plan To Special-Order Execution Drugs
Pharmacies that go along with Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s plan to secretly supply Virginia with execution drugs risk breaking state and federal laws governing controlled substances, a top administration official said in internal emails going back more than two years. McAuliffe (D) this week proposed allowing the state to hire compounding pharmacies to make lethal-injection drugs, which have become scarce amid public pressure on American pharmaceutical companies and a European export ban. (Vozzella, 4/14)

The Associated Press: High Copper Or Lead Levels Seen In 19 Detroit Schools' Water
Detroit's hard-pressed school system has found elevated levels of lead and copper in nearly a third of its elementary schools, contamination that one expert says could be found nationwide, wherever school authorities spend the time and money to look. The news gave parents in the 46,000-student district yet another reason to worry, and prompted the teachers' union to appeal for help from autoworkers, who trucked bottled water to a school where some students were drinking from bathroom sinks after the water fountains were shut down as a precaution. (4/14)

The Associated Press: Defense: DA Colluded With Planned Parenthood On Indictment
An anti-abortion activist who made undercover videos at Planned Parenthood clinics claims a Texas district attorney colluded with the provider to obtain an indictment accusing him of falsifying records to make his secret recordings. Attorneys for David Robert Daleiden filed court documents Thursday seeking dismissal of the indictment. The Houston Chronicle reports Daleiden's attorneys also contend that the Harris County grand jury that indicted the Davis, California, man wasn't empaneled properly. (4/14)

The Associated Press: Senators Summon Planned Parenthood CEO Over Subpoena
Missouri lawmakers in a rare move Thursday voted to summon the CEO of a regional Planned Parenthood to explain why she should not be held in contempt of the state Senate for defying a subpoena that demanded documents on how the organization handles fetal remains. The 24-8 party-line Senate vote follows Republican outcry over undercover videos released last summer that alleged Planned Parenthood was illegally selling fetal tissue for profit. The organization has denied the allegations in the videos, which reference its St. Louis clinic, the state's only abortion provider, and Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster found no evidence of wrongdoing in Missouri. (4/14)

The Washington Post: This Couple Says Everything They Were Told About Their Sperm Donor Was A Lie
Eight years ago, Angela Collins and Elizabeth Hanson thought they had found the one — the man whose sperm would help them have their first child. ... According to his profile, Donor #9623 boasted an IQ of 160. He held Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in neuroscience, and was in the midst of pursuing a Ph.D. He had practically no health problems to speak of, but for the fact that his father was colorblind. ... Donor #9623 was not as he appeared. Some Internet research revealed to Collins that her baby’s father was in reality a man, James Aggeles, who suffered from schizophrenia, narcissistic personality disorder and other mental illnesses. (Wang, 4/15)

NPR: When Parasites Could Be The Treatment Instead Of The Illness
Could swallowing the eggs of a parasitic worm help treat a disease? It might just work in some cases, according to the work of P'ng Loke and Ken Cadwell, two researchers at New York University who study parasites and the immune system. Several years ago, Loke got an intriguing phone call from a man with inflammatory bowel disease. The man told Loke that he had become so desperate that he had undergone a risky treatment in Thailand. It involved swallowing worm eggs and letting the worms, or helminths, hatch in his gut. (Sofia, 4/14)

Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent operating program of the Kaiser Family Foundation. (c) 2016 Kaiser Health News. All rights reserved.

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