Tag Archives: pharmaceutical

CVS-Aetna merger approval raises questions about competition and drug costs

Joseph Burns

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: afagen via Flickr

The merger of CVS Health, one of the nation’s largest pharmacy retailers, with third-largest health insurer Aetna has the potential to transform the health care system and raises concerns about the effect the merger could have on drug prices and competition. This would be the first time that a large pharmacy retailer gains control of one of the nation’s largest health insurers. CVS Health not only has 9,800 retail outlets in nearly every state (except Wyoming), but also 94 million members in pharmacy benefit manager CVS/Caremark. Continue reading

New investment hopes to spur cure for dementia

Liz Seegert

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.

Photo: Liz SeegertActress Jane Krakowski, talking to Katie Couric, teared up as she spoke about her dad’s diagnosis of early onset dementia at age 61.

Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. Despite decades of research, there’s still no cure, and few options to slow or minimize symptoms. The last Alzheimer’s drug was approved more than 15 years ago, but a new campaign, called Disrupting Dementia, hopes to drive new diagnostics and treatments while also supporting patients and families affected by this devastating condition.

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Report finds antipsychotic drug use still rampant in some nursing homes

Liz Seegert

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.

Photo: peterabbid via Flickr

Despite efforts to curb the use of antipsychotic drugs in nursing homes, about 20 percent of residents – more than 250,000 vulnerable individuals – are still given these potent medications, according to a new report from the Long Term Care Community Coalition (LTCCC).

While the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) estimates that only a very small percentage of the senior population will ever have a condition warranting use of these powerful medications, psychotropic drugs still are being overused among the elderly, especially for those suffering from dementia, the report concluded. Continue reading

Opioids the topic of daylong training for D.C. journalists

Kimberly Leonard

About Kimberly Leonard

Kimberly Leonard (@leonardkl) is a member of AHCJ’s Right to Know Committee and co-chair of the Washington, D.C., chapter. She covers Congress, the White House, and the Department of Health and Human Services as a health care reporter for the Washington Examiner.

Photo: Ryan Basen Baltimore Health Commissioner Leana Wen, right, helps demonstrate how naloxone is administered.

Health journalists in Washington, D.C., participated in an all-day training session about reporting on the opioid crisis, hearing from treatment experts, medical providers and public health advocates.

The event took place Feb. 23 at the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism, and was a partnership between the D.C. chapter of the Association of Health Care Journalists and the National Press Foundation. Continue reading

New report on Big Pharma settlements highlights need for tougher enforcement

Michael A. Carome, M.D.

About Michael A. Carome, M.D.

Dr. Michael A. Carome, M.D., is the director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group. He is an expert on issues of drug and medical device safety, pharmacy compounding, Food and Drug Administration oversight, health care policy, and the protection of human research subjects.

In honor of Sunshine Week, AHCJ invited organizations devoted to government transparency to write about how their work can help health care reporters. Here is the second of four.

Public Citizen’s Health Research Group today released an updated report cataloging all major financial settlements that the pharmaceutical industry has been forced to sign with federal and state governments from 1991 through 2017 for illegal activities.

The report shows a dramatic decrease since 2013 in both the total amount paid and the average penalty. Additionally, it found that state governments have virtually stopped prosecuting pharmaceutical manufacturers on their own initiative and with their own resources. Continue reading

Medical ethicist discusses Right-to-Try legislation

Sibyl Wilmont

About Sibyl Wilmont

Sibyl Wilmont is a second-career registered nurse and clinical researcher with more than 25 years of experience in health care journalism, patient advocacy, pharmaceutical/biotech PR, and academic medical communications.

Photo: Marko Javorac via Flickr

Taken at face value, Right-to-Try (RTT) legislation sounds like a no-brainer, promising to improve access to treatments yet unapproved for marketing by the FDA for people with terminal illnesses. But it’s not that simple, according to Alison Bateman-House, Ph.D., M.P.H., M.A., an ethicist and assistant professor at the New York University School of Medicine.

In fact, many of its basic provisions make it unlikely to deliver on its promise. At a New York City Metro AHCJ Chapter meeting in November, she discussed reasons for her argument that RTT will only serve to limit, rather than expand, access to potentially life-saving treatments. Continue reading