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POLITICO New York Health Care: Medicaid spending on Harvoni soars; new era in cancer research

Dear readers: POLITICO New York Pro subscribers receive an enhanced version of this email at 5:30 a.m. each weekday. If you'd like to receive it, along with a customized real-time news feed of New York health care policy news throughout the day, please contact us at and we'll set you up for trial access.

written by Dan Goldberg

FOLLOW THE MONEY — New York State's Medicaid program spent nearly $185 million on Hepatitis C drugs during the second quarter of 2015, accounting for more than 6 percent of all drug spending:

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AND MAKE SURE YOU FOLLOW Josefa and me on Twitter @J__Velasquez & @DanCGoldberg. And for all New Jersey health news, check out @katiedjennings

SHOOTING THE MOON [R]ecent advances in immunotherapy, which uses the body’s immune system to fight tumors, and epigenetics, which help scientists understand how tumor cells replicate and why they respond to certain treatments, mean that new clinical trials in genetic therapies and immunostimulants are being developed at breakneck speed.

NOW WE KNOW —The New York Times explains recent studies that examined the link between exercise and alcohol. Turns out lifting a few weights makes people want to drink a few beers, and it may be because our brain likes doing both.

WE'D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU: This roundup is for you, so please tell us how we can make it even better. Send tips, news, ideas, calendar items, releases, promotions, job postings, birthdays, congratulations, criticisms and corrections to

DINING WITH DOGS — A state law passed earlier this year allows pets to accompany diners in restaurants, and so the health department, which opposed the measure, citing safety and sanitary concerns, must now regulate the new law.

WATCH THIS VIDEO — Melissa Russo, with NBC’s investigative team, has a superb investigation on the cooling towers legislation and some "wacky" results.

TRANSITIONING The New York Times profiles Kricket Jerná Nimmons, a 40-year old, born Jerome, who is one of the first patients to have Medicaid pay for gender reassignment surgery.

JOB OPENING — The city’s health department is looking for a research scientist.

TAX ERROR NOT IN YOUR FAVOR — Thousands of employees at Erie County Medical Center may owe the government some tax money because of a 2012 computer glitch, according to Buffalo Business First.

EXPLAINER — Columbia University Medical School Dean Lee Goldman explains how evolutionary safeguards, such as hunger and fear, are now major causes of human disease.

PHARMA REPORT: The Wall Street Journal reports: “Eli Lilly & Co. said Friday its new lung-cancer drug will cost about $11,430 a patient a month in the U. S. — well above what a group of doctors say is a fair price that reflects what they call the drug’s modest benefit.

-HERE WE GO AGAIN — Martin Shkreli, the infamous “pharma bro” and Wu Tang connoisseur, has alarmed the Chagas community, with his plan to raise the price of a decades-old drug, according to The New York Times.

-MARKET WATCH — The Wall Street Journal reports: “AstraZeneca PLC is in advanced talks to pay more than $5 billion for little-known biotech company Acerta Pharma BV and its promising cancer compound, according to people familiar with the matter, in the U.K. drugmaker’s latest effort to rebuild its pipeline.”


-JUST CURIOUS — The Federal Trade Commission has asked for more information regarding the Walgreens, Rite-Aid merger, according to The Wall Street Journal.

-OBAMACARE GUARDRAILS — The Obama administration on Friday outlined four “Obamacare guardrails” on its 1332 waivers, which allow states to deviate from some ACA requirements. Read the rules here:

-HAPPENING THIS WEEK — Michael Botticelli, the White House's national drug control policy director, will begin holding community forums across the country to discuss best practices and evidenced-based initiatives to prevent and treat prescription drug abuse and heroin use.

TODAY'S TIP — Comes from the Cleveland Clinic: “Reaching for your morning cup of coffee or tea? Read THIS first.”


-STRESSED OUT — Feeling stressed out increases the likelihood that elderly people will develop mild cognitive impairment, according to a study from Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Health System, published in Alzheimer Disease & Associated Disorders.

-IN THE GENES — Researchers from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center presented work at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, which showed how information gleaned from a liquid biopsy may predict how women with advanced breast cancer will respond to certain therapies as well as reveal genetic mutations that can impact prognosis.

-DRIVING FORWARD — The New York Times reports on a study that found far fewer young Americans are drinking and driving.

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MISSED A ROUNDUP? Get caught up here: 12/11, 12/10, 12/9, 12/8, 12/7

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