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KHN First Edition: September 21, 2016


First Edition

Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Would You Like Some Insurance With Your Insurance?
Side Effects Public Media's Bram Sable-Smith, in partnership with KHN and NPR, reports: "For the first time in her life, 26-year-old freelance designer Susannah Lohr had to shop for health insurance this year. She called up a major insurer in the St. Louis area where she lives, and it offered her a plan with a hefty $6,000 deductible — that’s the amount she would have to cover herself before the insurance kicks in. When she balked, the salesman on the phone suggested that she could buy a “gap plan,” a separate policy for $50 a month to cover her deductible." (Sable-Smith, 9/21)

California Healthline: Veterans Courted In California’s Ballot Fight Over Curbing Drug Prices
California Healthline's Pauline Bartolone writes: "Once a month at the Veterans of Foreign Wars building in Sacramento, a couple dozen former soldiers, many with white hair tucked under their service caps, stand and salute as they take up matters close to their communities.For discussion at a recent meeting: proper burial services for homeless veterans and a Harley Davidson motorcycle BBQ fundraiser. Also on the agenda: California’s Proposition 61 — a controversial measure on the November ballot that aims to rein in prescription drug prices." (Bartolone, 9/21)

The Associated Press: Mylan CEO Set To Defend EpiPen Prices Amid Public Outcry
The head of pharmaceutical company Mylan is defending the cost for life-saving EpiPens, signaling the company has no plans to lower prices despite a public outcry and questions from skeptical lawmakers. "Price and access exist in a balance, and we believe we have struck that balance," Heather Bresch says in prepared testimony released by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee ahead of her Wednesday appearance before the panel. (9/21)

Reuters: Medicare EpiPen Spending Outpaces Prescription Growth: Kaiser Report
U.S. government spending on Mylan Inc's EpiPen in the Medicare program for seniors and the disabled rose 1,151 percent from 2007 through 2014, while the number of EpiPen users grew 164 percent, the Kaiser Family Foundation said on Tuesday in an analysis. The spending figure excludes after-market manufacturer rebates that Mylan paid to the private insurers who manage the Medicare Part D program for pharmacy drugs on behalf of the government, it said. (Humer, 9/20)

Reuters: U.S. Senate Finance Committee Asks For Mylan EpiPen Rebate Investigation
The U.S. Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday said it had asked the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to investigate the rebates to state Medicaid programs for Mylan Inc's EpiPen treatment. Mylan, which has raised the U.S. price for a pack of two EpiPens from less than $100 when it acquired the product in 2007 to more than $600, also faces scrutiny from New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and West Virginia. (Humer, 9/20)

USA Today: W.Va. Seeks Mylan Records On EpiPen Price Hikes
West Virginia's top legal official Tuesday sought court enforcement of a subpoena that seeks answers from Mylan N.V. (MYL) about spiraling price hikes the pharmaceutical company imposed for its EpiPen lifesaving allergy injectors. Filed on the eve of congressional hearings scheduled over the increases, the court petition is part of an investigation that could lead to Medicaid fraud charges against the Europe-based company. (McCoy, 9/20)

Reuters: Mylan Shares Languish At Low Valuation As EpiPen Hearing Nears
Shares of Mylan NV are trading at historically low valuations as the company's chief executive officer is set to face a congressional grilling on Wednesday over the price of its EpiPen emergency allergy treatment. The stock is trading at 7.5 times estimated earnings for the next 12 months, holding near its lowest in at least 30 years and well below its five-year average of 11 times, according to Thomson Reuters Datastream. (Krauskopf, 9/20)

The Associated Press: Slow Progress On Bill To Battle Zika And Prevent Shutdown
Top congressional leaders said Tuesday that negotiators are making slow but steady progress on a must-do spending bill to prevent a government shutdown next week and fund the battle against the Zika virus. Some tricky issues remain, but optimism was building that an agreement might be unveiled in the next day or two. Congressional aides said that progress included an offer from Republicans to drop especially controversial provisions that would have eased pesticide regulations under the Clean Water Act and blocked tighter regulations on the length of workweeks for truckers. (Taylor, 9/20)

The Washington Post: Turmoil At Federal Agency Threatens Oversight Of Biomedical Research
A small government office that monitors misconduct in biomedical research is in turmoil, jeopardizing oversight of billions of dollars in grants to universities and other institutions around the country. Six of the eight investigators in the federal Office of Research Integrity have signed a letter hinting that they may leave, a move that could hobble federal efforts to detect data ma­nipu­la­tion and other misconduct by laboratory researchers. The office’s new head has filed personnel actions against the two division directors she inherited and installed a new deputy to supervise the entire staff. (Bernstein, 9/20)

The Washington Post: ‘Superbug’ MRSA May Be Spreading Through Tainted Poultry
A new form of a dangerous "superbug" may be spreading to humans through contaminated poultry that people handle or eat, according to a study published Wednesday. Researchers focused on a newly identified strain of the bacterium known as MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, that they found in people in Denmark. Although most individuals who become infected with MRSA don't get it from food, the study suggests that this poultry-associated strain may be more easily transmitted from food to people. (Sun, 9/21)

NPR: How To Get More Doctors To Treat People With Opioid Addiction
Many people struggling with opioid addiction can't find a doctor to provide medication-assisted treatment, even though it's highly effective. One reason could be that doctors who are qualified to prescribe the medication typically treat just a handful of patients. (Shute, 9/20)

Los Angeles Times: Seattle's New War On Drugs: Giving Heroin Addicts 'Safe Sites' To Shoot Up
Seattle officials are moving forward with a controversial plan for what would be the nation’s first supervised heroin-injection clinics — government-financed shooting galleries that supporters say can save lives but that critics say will only enable drug users. A new 99-page task force study envisions at least two safe-use facilities — one in Seattle, another in the suburbs — where heroin addicts can legally take narcotics while being monitored by medical personnel who can administer aid or call 911 if needed. (Anderson, 9/21)

The Wall Street Journal: Allergan To Buy Tobira Therapeutics In $1.7 Billion Deal
Allergan PLC on Tuesday said it agreed to acquire Tobira Therapeutics Inc., a biopharmaceutical company that develops therapies for liver diseases, in a deal worth as much as $1.7 billion, or 19 times Tobira’s previous market value. Tobira focuses on products that treat nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH, a common liver disease associated with obesity and type-2 diabetes. NASH occurs when the accumulation of liver fat is accompanied by inflammation and cellular damage, and it can lead to scarring of the liver and progress to cirrhosis, liver cancer and eventual liver failure. (Stynes, 9/20)

USA Today/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Effort Fights ‘Epidemic’ Of Deadly Elderly Falls
Elderly people seldom want to talk about it.It’s scary, and if it’s happened to them and they’ve survived, they’re often embarrassed. And worried. One time too many and — whoosh — it’s off to a nursing home.But it’s happening more and more: People 65 and older are falling and an increasing number are dying as a result. Nationally, the rate of death after a fall jumped more than 35% between 2005 and 2014. (Rutledge, 9/20)

Los Angeles Times: Men With Anxiety Are More Vulnerable To Cancer, Study Says
Men over 40 who are plagued with the omnipresent of generalized anxiety disorder are more than twice as likely to die of cancer than are men who do not have the mental affliction, new research finds. But for women who suffer from severe anxiety, the research found no increased risk of cancer death. That finding, presented Tuesday at the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology’s Congress in Vienna, emerges from the largest study ever to explore a link between anxiety and cancer. It tracked 15,938 Britons over 40 for 15 years. (Healy, 9/20)

NPR: Fitness Trackers Didn't Help People Lose Weight
Fitness trackers remain wildly popular, but do they make us fit? Maybe not, according to a study that asked overweight or obese young adults to use the tiny tracking tools to lose weight. The 470 people in the study were put on a low-calorie diet and asked to exercise more. They all started losing weight. Six months in, half the group members started self-reporting their diet and exercise. The other half were given fitness trackers to monitor their activity. After two years, both groups were equally active. But the people with the fitness trackers lost less weight. (Ross, 9/20)

The New York Times: Orlando’s Latest Theme Park Is A City For Wellness
Orlando is trying to show itself as a place far different than a land of fantasy. An important part of Orlando’s emerging presence as a mature and innovative city is the 14-square-mile Lake Nona project, which is being built on land that only a decade ago was mostly pasture. Once finished, the development, being built by Tavistock Development Company, will resemble a city in everything but name, with hospitals, hotels, office buildings, schools and colleges, recreational and sports training facilities, retail centers, entertainment spots and, ultimately, about 11,000 homes and more than 25,000 residents. (Madigan, 9/20)

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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