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KHN First Edition: September 27, 2016

KHN

First Edition

Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Expert Panel Recommends Expansion Of Services With No Cost Sharing For Women
Kaiser Health News consumer columnist Michelle Andrews writes: "The list of preventive services that women can receive without paying anything out of pocket under the health law could grow if proposed recommendations by a group of mostly medical providers are adopted by federal officials later this year. The draft recommendations, which are open for public comment until Sept. 30, update the eight recommended preventive services for women." (Andrews, 9/27)

Kaiser Health News: Election Buzz: With Pot On The Ballot, States Weigh How To Police Stoned Drivers
Southern California Public Radio's Stephanie O'Neill and Colorado Public Radio's Ben Markus, in partnership with KHN and NPR, report: "In five states this fall — California, Arizona, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts — voters will be deciding whether marijuana should be legal for recreational use. And any of those states that do legalize marijuana will have to wrestle with the question of how to enforce laws against stoned drivers. It has been legal to smoke pot for fun in Colorado since January 2014, and the state modeled its marijuana driving-under-the-influence law on the one for alcohol. If a blood test shows a certain level of THC, the mind-altering compound in marijuana, the law says you shouldn’t be driving." (O'Neill and Markus, 9/27)

The Wall Street Journal: Mylan’s EpiPen Pretax Profits 60% Higher Than Number Told To Congress
Mylan NV on Monday clarified the profit it said it made from its lifesaving EpiPen drug, days after House members badgered the company’s CEO to justify the device’s steep price increases. Testifying before a congressional committee last week, CEO Heather Bresch said Mylan’s profit was $100 for a two-pack of the injectors, despite a $608 list price. But in response to questions from The Wall Street Journal, Mylan said Monday that the profit figure presented by Ms. Bresch included taxes, which the company didn’t clearly convey to Congress. (Maremont, 9/26)

Reuters: Mylan Faces Scrutiny Over EpiPen Profit Data Shown To Congress
Mylan NV faced questions on Monday about the profit on its EpiPen emergency allergy treatment, following a report that the company makes 60 percent more on the injector than it had told Congress. ... Lawmakers are trying to determine whether Mylan made more money on EpiPen than warranted from state Medicaid programs by having it classified as a generic product, resulting in much smaller rebates to the government health plans. (Clarke and Grover, 9/26)

The Wall Street Journal: With Insurers On Board, More Hospitals Offer Transgender Surgery
Surgery is becoming more available for transgender people as a growing number of academic centers and hospitals offer the procedure and insurance companies provide coverage. Stacey Parsons, a 45-year-old from Kent, Ohio, had genital surgery in August at Cleveland Clinic, which last year launched a transgender-surgery-and-medicine program. For years the procedure was unattainable for Ms. Parsons because it costs upward of $20,000 and was rarely covered by insurance. (Reddy, 9/26)

Reuters: Sanofi Gets $43M U.S. Funding To Spur Zika Vaccine Development
Sanofi SA said on Monday the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) approved $43.18 million in funding to accelerate the development of a Zika vaccine, as efforts to prevent the infection gather momentum. The funding from the HHS' Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) will be used for mid-stage trials, expected to begin in the first half of 2018, and for manufacturing, the French drugmaker said. (Grover, 9/26)

The Wall Street Journal: Pfizer Throws Out Plan To Split Into Two Companies
Pfizer Inc. said Monday it would remain a single company, deciding not to split into one business focused on patent-protected drugs and another on cash-rich older products. The decision means the New York City-based drug company would remain one of the industry’s largest. It projects at least $51 billion in revenue this year from a growing portfolio of cancer drugs and vaccines as well as a pipeline with copies of expensive big-molecule drugs. (Rockoff and Hufford, 9/26)

The Wall Street Journal: Kite Pharma’s Lead Cancer Candidate Shows Promising Results
Kite Pharma Inc. said more than two-thirds of patients treated with its proposed lymphoma treatment responded to the therapy, with more than 40% showing a complete remission, according to an interim analysis of a mid-stage clinical trial. Shares of the biopharmaceutical company, down 11% this year, jumped 9% to $60 in after-hours trade. (Armental, 9/26)

The Associated Press: Research Finds Talc Doesn’t Cause Cancer; Juries Disagree
Two lawsuits ended in jury verdicts worth $127 million. Two others were tossed out by a judge who said there wasn’t reliable evidence that the talc in Johnson & Johnson’s iconic baby powder causes ovarian cancer. So who’s right? And is baby powder safe? Most research finds no link or a weak one between ovarian cancer and using baby powder for feminine hygiene, a practice generations of American mothers have passed on to their daughters. Most major health groups have declared talc harmless. (Johnson, 9/26)

The Associated Press: Psychiatrist: Hospital Provokes Patients To Enrich Itself
A doctor who trained for two years at the psychiatric unit of a New York hospital said in a lawsuit Monday that poor adolescent patients were routinely provoked into acting out, then restrained and drugged, extending their hospitalization and Medicaid payments. Dr. Alfred Robenzadeh said that supervisors at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla retaliated against him when he tried to address what he says was chronic patient abuse that increased the severity of diagnoses, with usual two-week inpatient stays often extended days or weeks. He alleges the practice defrauded Medicaid. (9/26)

The Wall Street Journal: Are You Fit For Surgery?
Are you healthy enough to have surgery? More hospitals are asking that question before patients undergo elective procedures such as hip and knee replacements. They are identifying those at higher risk of infections and other complications due to diabetes, heart disease and anemia—or simply being sedentary and out of shape. And they are steering them to “pre-habilitation” programs that include medical treatments, diets and exercise regimens to improve their chances of a successful surgery. (Landro, 9/26)

NPR: Walk Now To Stay On Your Feet As You Grow Older
People who have reached their later years may think it's primarily a time to relax, not to increase their physical activity. Not so. Previous research has suggested that exercise can improve memory and reverse muscle loss in older adults, among other benefits. And a study out Monday finds that a regular program of physical activity reduces the time spent with mobility-limiting disability. (Hobson, 9/26)

The New York Times: Some Good News On Ovarian Cancer
The death rate from ovarian cancer declined in the United States by 16 percent from 2002 to 2012, among the largest reductions in the world. The rate in the United States, 4.85 per 100,000, puts it roughly in the middle of a list of 47 countries whose rates and trends were described recently in a study in Annals of Oncology. (Bakalar, 9/26)

NPR: Doctors Encouraged To Use Medications To Treat Alcohol Abuse
Two often-overlooked medications might help millions of Americans who abuse alcohol to quit drinking or cut back. Public health officials, building on a push to treat people who abuse opioids with medications, want physicians to consider using medications to treat alcohol addiction. The drugs can be used in addition to or sometimes in place of peer-support programs, they say. (Yasinski, 9/26)

The New York Times: Researchers Make Progress Toward Identifying C.T.E. In The Living
One of the frustrations of researchers who study chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the degenerative brain disease linked to repeated head hits, is that it can be detected only in autopsies, and not in the living. Researchers, though, have been trying to solve this problem in two primary ways: by identifying biomarkers linked to the disease that show up on imaging tests in certain locations in the brain, and by trying to locate in the blood the protein that is the hallmark of the disease. (Belson, 9/26)

The Washington Post: That Horrible Morning Sickness You’re Having? It’s Actually A Good Sign For The Baby.
The first three months of pregnancy, a time that parenting magazines and Hallmark cards often portray as magnificent and carefree, can actually be a wretched experience for many women. As many as 90 percent of mothers-to-be experience some degree of nausea and vomiting, and scientists have long speculated about what, from an evolutionary standpoint, the function of all that unpleasantness might be. The leading theory has to do with food. (Cha, 9/26)

Los Angeles Times: In Addition To Fueling Aggression, Testosterone Can Also Make Men More Generous, Study Says
Testosterone, the big daddy (if you will) of male hormones, has gotten a bit of a bad reputation, what with it being linked to bluster, aggression, violent offending and a whole raft of behaviors at which men do seem to best women consistently. But in humans, new research suggests that’s not the whole picture. The testosterone findings that have shaped our common assumptions probably fail to take account of human society’s exquisite level of social evolution. (Healy, 9/26)

The Washington Post: Pain Kept This Young Woman From Eating For 5 Years, And Doctors Didn’t Know Why
The medical team encircled Mackenzie Hild’s bed, their somber expressions reflecting the gravity of the news they were about to impart to the Harvard sophomore and her mother, newly arrived from California. “We’ve done all these tests, and they’re all normal,” Hild recalls one doctor at the renowned Boston hospital telling them. To treat Hild’s life-threatening weight loss, which the 19-year-old claimed was the result of searing abdominal pain triggered by eating, doctors were sending her to an inpatient center specializing in eating disorders. (Boodman, 9/26)

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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