Caroline's Feed
Dec 23, 2014

FDA eases 31-year ban on blood donations from gay men

By Caroline Humer

(Reuters) – U.S. health regulators will recommend that gay men be allowed to donate blood one year after their last sexual contact, easing a ban that has been in place since 1983.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said that scientific evidence shows the move will not create risks for the nation’s blood supply. It stopped short of removing the ban altogether, which some medical groups and advocates had recommended, saying it was not supported by science.

Dec 23, 2014

FDA eases ban on blood donations from gay men

By Caroline Humer

(Reuters) – Gay men will be able to donate blood one year
after their last sexual contact, the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration said on Tuesday, under a proposal that will be
introduced early next year to end a ban that has been in place
since 1983.

Scientific evidence shows the move will not create risks for
the nation’s blood supply, the FDA said. The policy change is
expected to boost the supply of donated blood by hundreds of
thousands of pints per year.

Dec 22, 2014

Express Scripts drops Gilead hep C drugs for cheaper AbbVie rival

Dec 22 (Reuters) – The largest U.S. pharmacy benefit manager
said on Monday it has lined up a cheaper price for AbbVie Inc’s
newly approved hepatitis C treatment and, in most
cases, will no longer cover Gilead Sciences Inc’s
treatments after trying for nearly a year to win a deeper
discount.

Express Scripts’ move reignited investor concerns
that pharmaceutical companies will have to bow to pricing
pressure from U.S. insurers and lawmakers over novel medications
whose cost can reach hundreds of thousands of dollars for some
diseases.

Dec 22, 2014

Express Scripts to cover AbbVie hepatitis C drug, drops Gilead treatment

By Caroline Humer

(Reuters) – The nation’s largest pharmacy benefit manager has lined up a cheaper price from AbbVie Inc on its newly approved hepatitis C treatment and, in most cases, will no longer cover Gilead Sciences Inc treatments, Express Scripts said on Monday.

Express Scripts has opposed the $84,000 pricetag of Gilead Sciences’ Sovaldi treatment since it was approved a year ago, saying that was unaffordable. The $1,000 a day pill opened a national debate about drug prices and increased insurer pressure on drug makers to cut prices.

Dec 20, 2014

U.S. FDA approves AbbVie hepatitis C drug, costs $83,319 for 12 weeks

By Caroline Humer

(Reuters) – U.S. health regulators on Friday approved AbbVie’s all-oral treatment for hepatitis C, and the company said the drug would cost $83,319 for a typical 12-week plan, a bit below its huge selling competitor Solvadi from Gilead Sciences.

Gilead’s Sovaldi treatment stole headlines last year with its $84,000 price tag and set off a national debate about whether drug prices have climbed too high.

Dec 15, 2014

Insight – U.S. corporate health exchanges find no new blue chip clients

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Healthcare companies including Aetna Inc, Mercer and Towers Watson Co have invested hundreds of millions of dollars to build exchanges that allow company employees to buy their own insurance, betting that Corporate America wants to get out of managing workers’ health benefits.

By last year, blue chip names like Sears Holding and Walgreen Co had signed on and industry experts predicted that more than 20 percent of the nation’s employees would soon buy their health insurance in this way, compared with less than 2 percent today. But Reuters interviews with nearly a dozen industry executives has found that no major U.S. company signed up their employees for the first time to a private health insurance exchange for 2015.

Dec 15, 2014

US corporate health exchanges find no new blue chip clients

NEW YORK, Dec 15 (Reuters) – Healthcare companies including
Aetna Inc, Mercer and Towers Watson Co have
invested hundreds of millions of dollars to build exchanges that
allow company employees to buy their own insurance, betting that
Corporate America wants to get out of managing workers’ health
benefits.

By last year, blue chip names like Sears Holding
and Walgreen Co had signed on and industry experts
predicted that more than 20 percent of the nation’s employees
would soon buy their health insurance in this way, compared with
less than 2 percent today. But Reuters interviews with nearly a
dozen industry executives has found that no major U.S. company
signed up their employees for the first time to a private health
insurance exchange for 2015.

Dec 12, 2014

Aetna says demand surging for individual Obamacare plans

By Caroline Humer

(Reuters) – With the deadline approaching for individuals to
renew healthcare plans purchased on HealthCare.gov, Aetna has
begun to see a surge in customers for 2015, the insurer’s new
president said on Thursday during a meeting with analysts and
investors.

HealthCare.gov has a Dec. 15 deadline for individuals to
renew their 2014 plans or select new ones before it will
automatically re-enroll them for next year. Enrollment for
individual plans is open until Feb. 15, which were created under
the 2010 Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare.

Dec 8, 2014

New York health insurer Oscar to pay members who walk more

By Caroline Humer

(Reuters) – Oscar Health Insurance, which sells health plans on Obamacare exchanges in New York and New Jersey, said it will pay members up to $240 per year in Amazon.com Inc gift cards for the thousands of steps they take each day.

The plan is the latest effort by venture-capital backed Oscar to distinguish itself in the individual insurance market, where it is rare to offer members incentives to improve their health. Employer-sponsored health plans regularly use incentives such as lower premiums or higher contributions as part of their “workplace wellness” programs.

Nov 20, 2014

Drug spending tops $1 trillion on hepatitis C, cancer therapies: study

By Caroline Humer

(Reuters) – Global pharmaceutical spending will break the trillion dollar mark in 2014, driven by high prices in the United States for novel treatments such as Gilead Sciences Inc’s Sovaldi for hepatitis C and new cancer drugs, according to a study released on Thursday.

Total spending on drugs will hit $1.06 trillion, an increase of 7 percent over 2013 levels, according to the report from the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics. The increase also reflected a slowdown in the introduction of cheaper generic versions of branded medicines.