The World Health Organization today declared 2019-nCoV a public health emergency of international concern. This is the sixth such designation since 2009; earlier emergencies included the swine flu in 2009, Ebola in 2014 and 2019, polio in 2014 and Zika in 2016.
One of the big health care stories of the past few years has been how much money pharmaceutical manufacturers spend on rebates to promote prescription drugs. Pharmaceutical companies pay out rebates to just about every participant in the supply chain.
A report issued last year from the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies (a division of Johnson & Johnson) showed that pharma companies give rebates to those companies that pay for health care (including health insurers, the government, and employers) and to PBMs, hospitals, physician groups, specialty pharmacies, wholesalers, government distributors, and to patients themselves.
Paying rebates to pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) helps pharmaceutical companies keep medications on formularies, enticing health care purchasers to buy more drugs. Continue reading
The Supreme Court has declined to take up, on an expedited basis, Texas v. Azar, the conservative states’ lawsuit against the ACA. That doesn’t mean that the case — which argues for scrapping the whole 2010 health law now that the individual mandate penalty has been zeroed out — will never reach the Supreme Court. But it’s now highly unlikely that the high court will rule during President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign.
The Supreme Court doesn’t usually take up cases until they’ve worked their way through the lower courts. But as we told you recently, it wasn’t 100 percent clear that they’d follow that tradition in this case. Continue reading
When it comes to debates over health care policy, there are a number of terms that make veteran reporter Joanne Kenen roll her eyes.
There’s “access,” for example. “Saying you have access doesn’t mean you can really tap into that ‘access,’” says Kenen, executive editor for health at Politico and health reform topic leader for AHCJ. “If I have access to something that costs $25,000, that’s not really access. Who is this protecting and what does this really mean?” In other words, Kenen says, “access means whatever you want it to mean.” Continue reading
Age-related hearing loss is one of the most common health disorders of aging, affecting two-thirds of those over age 70. While hearing loss previously had been linked to higher rates of cognitive decline, a new study finds that this decline may start much earlier than previously thought.
Researchers at Columbia University found that even the earliest stage of hearing loss — when hearing is still considered normal — also is linked to loss of cognitive function. Continue reading
Do you wrestle with ways to illustrate numbers when writing about vaccines?
Dr. Gretchen LaSalle, a family physician in Spokane, Wash., recently offered some ways to do this effectively in a blog post called Vaccine Data: Do the Math.
LaSalle skillfully highlights two examples of how numbers can be used. In one example, related to flu figures, she suggests how real-life context can make the risks of the flu more obvious. In another example, related to measles data, she underscores how numbers can be used to mislead. Continue reading