Tag Archives: kaiser health news

FDA approval causes drug price to skyrocket

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

In a collaboration between The Philadelphia Inquirer and Kaiser Health News, Harris Meyer looks at the case of colchicine, a drug used to treat gout that has been on the market so long that it predates the FDA approval process, and thus had never been approved.

Like thousands of drugs it existed in a sort of grandfathered generic state. That ended in 2009 when URL Pharma earned FDA approval for a branded version of the drug, which it sells for 50 times more per pill than the generic.

The drug company convinced the FDA that its version was safer than the generic, a claim disputed by many physicians. Now, Meyer reports, it’s likely that the generic colchicine will be forced from the market over the coming months, driving customers of the centuries-old drug (a natural version was first mentioned by the ancient Greeks) into the arms of URL Pharma. According to Meyer, the case is just one of several that have resulted from post-2006 FDA efforts to gain control and approval over all those grandfathered-in unregulated drugs.

Post-reform plans may still be too spendy for some

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Kaiser Health News’ Jordan Rau reports that, even if current health care proposals (Rau focuses on the House bill) were to pass, the resulting coverage would still fall short of universal and affordable, with many families slipping through the cracks and facing medical expenditures every bit as onerous as those they face today. Rau carefully picks through the coverage and points out the biggest holes, explaining how they arose and identifying the relevant trade-offs and contributing factors.

Under the House proposal, people receiving government subsidies could still end up spending 20 percent or more of their annual incomes on premiums, deductibles and co-insurance, according to estimates prepared by the House Committee on Ways and Means and obtained by Kaiser Health News. That financial load could grow substantially if the proposal’s financing — $1 trillion over a decade — is pared back as congressional leaders come under pressure to reduce the legislation’s costs.

Report looks at nonprofits’ health reporting

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

Maralee  Schwartz, a Shorenstein  Center  Fellow at Harvard University, has written a report titled “Getting  It  for  Free:  When  Foundations  Provide  the  News  on  Health.” (35-page PDF)

She points out that using stories produced by nonprofit foundations “raises  questions  that  go  to  the  heart  of  the  journalistic  enterprise  and  its  role  in  American  democracy:  Does  the  very  availability  of  content  about  a  pet  issue  of  a  particular  foundation  mean  that  coverage  will  be  skewed?  Does  nonprofit  journalism  mean  lower  standards?  How  does  a  newspaper  safeguard  integrity  and  independence?”

The report also looks at the economic challenges that editors are facing, including the results of a survey AHCJ and the Kaiser Family Foundation did in March.

Schwartz, formerly a political  reporter and  editor at  The  Washington  Post, takes a close look at Kaiser Health News. Schwartz also writes about efforts in various states to create nonprofit organizations to do health reporting, including the Center for California Health Care Journalism, which first partnered with the Merced Sun Star for a project. Other similar projects include the Kansas Health Institute News Service and Health News Florida.

The report includes interviews with reporters and editors at the nonprofit organizations and at newspapers that have used their work, including AHCJ board member Karl Stark.

Schwartz concludes that “Most  of  the  experts  interviewed  expressed  hope  that  this  trend  can  be  supported.  They  also  agreed  that  objections  about  the  dilution  of  independence  and  journalistic  standards  can  be  addressed  by  developing  odes  of  conduct,  for  lack  of  a  better  phrase,  so  that  both  editors  and  readers  can  have  confidence  in  the  work  produced  by  Kaiser  or  ProPublica,  or  a  variety  of  other  nonprofits.”