Category Archives: Pharmaceuticals

SCOTUS ruling allows states to regulate what PBMs pay pharmacists

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. He welcomes questions and suggestions on insurance resources and tip sheets at joseph@healthjournalism.org.

Photo by dbking via Flickr

States seeking to regulate pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) won an important victory on Thursday when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 8-0, rejecting a challenge to a law the state of Arkansas passed in 2015 to put restrictions on PBMs. The ruling could allow states to regulate PBMs, as Darrel Rowland reported for The Columbus Dispatch.

Rowland is a member of an award-winning team of reporters and editors at the Dispatch who have covered PBMs in Ohio and elsewhere since January 2018, as we reported on this blog.

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NIH head: Journalists have important role in explaining the science behind vaccine development

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. He welcomes questions and suggestions on insurance resources and tip sheets at joseph@healthjournalism.org.

Francis S. Collins

Francis S. Collins

As coronavirus infections rise nationwide, health care journalists have an important role in explaining the science behind the development, safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines, said Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., the director of the National Institutes of Health.

As the Nov. 18 keynote speaker at AHCJ’s Journalism Summit on Infectious Disease, Collins gave a stark warning for journalists and all Americans about the need to recognize the value of the vaccines as they are rolled out in the coming months. Continue reading

Follow COVID-19 research money to find stories near you

About Bara Vaida

Bara Vaida (@barav) is AHCJ's core topic leader on infectious diseases. An independent journalist, she has written extensively about health policy and infectious diseases. Her work has appeared in outlets that include the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico and The Washington Post.

scientist-with-microscopeThe timeless advice sometimes attributed to Deep Throat or Bob Woodard and Carl Bernstein to “follow the money” certainly applies to COVID-19.

For reporters looking for local stories, follow the money doled out by the National Institutes of Health for COVID-19 research. Most recently, the National Cancer Institute, which received $306 million from Congress through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, announced the first grants and contracts to researchers to form the Serological Sciences Network for COVID-19. Continue reading

Remember – it’s still flu season

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

While there is rightfully much concern about the COVID-19 (aka coronavirus) becoming a pandemic (see Bara Vaida’s excellent tip sheet on covering the virus), let’s not forget we’re in the middle of flu season, another disease that is potentially fatal for older adults. While COVID-19 is deadlier, flu is much more prevalent.

Flu activity is high in the U.S. and expected to continue for weeks, according to CDC’s Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report for the week ending Feb. 15, 2020. You can see a breakout by age groups for Influenza A and B strains here. CDC estimates at least 29 million flu illnesses, 280,000 hospitalizations and 16,000 deaths from flu so far this season. Continue reading

Are hospitals training staff to adequately treat delirium in older adults?

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

pill organizer

Photo: Marilyn Dunn via Flickr

Hospitalized older adults who take atypical, or second-generation, antipsychotics for delirium were at increased risk of death from cardiopulmonary arrest, according to a recent study by researchers in Boston.

Despite these known risks, antipsychotic drugs frequently are used to treat or prevent delirium. Delirium (sudden confusion or a rapid change in mental state) affects 15% to 26% of hospitalized older adults. It can lead those affected to harm themselves or others, or otherwise interfere with medical care. Continue reading