This week’s BioBlog looks at the world of pharmaceuticals and the changes, updates, and news that shape the industry. The FDA issued a warning on the use of azithromycin after donor stem cell transplant this week. Hospitals are reducing their referrals to skilled nursing facilities if they switch to a bundled payment system. Cigna’s potential merger with Express Scripts may face more hurdles, and much more in the news this week.
FDA Warns About Increased Risk Of Cancer Relapse With Long-Term Use Of Azithromycin (Zithromax, Zmax) Antibiotic After Donor Stem Cell Transplant
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning that the antibiotic azithromycin (Zithromax, Zmax) should not be given long-term to prevent a certain inflammatory lung condition in patients with cancers of the blood or lymph nodes who undergo a donor stem cell transplant. Results of a clinical trial1 found an increased rate of relapse in cancers affecting the blood and lymph nodes, including death, in these patients.
Study: Bundled payments drive hospitals to reduce referrals to SNFs, improve coordination
Bundled payments are much in the news lately. They appear to be having some positive yet unintended consequences on patient care. Fewer patients are being sent to skilled nursing facilities post-discharge for elective joint procedures, for example, and hospitals are coordinating more closely with SNFs on patient care. This and more on the evolving picture around bundled payments and patient care.
Bluebird, Regeneron Team Up To Make Cell Therapies For Cancer
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and Bluebird Bio have agreed to a partnership to expand the reach of their respective cancer immunotherapy work. The new deal will help them develop multiple cell therapies together. Regeneron develops antibody drugs, while Bluebird is a gene and cell therapy specialist. In the deal, the two companies will work together over a five-year term to develop several CAR-T therapies, a type of cancer treatment through which immune cells are removed from a patient, genetically engineered to recognize and kill cancer cells, and infused back into the body.
Hospitals see $4.8B lift in final CMS payment rule that focuses on price transparency, interoperability
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) finalized a hospital payment rule that includes an additional $4.8 billion for inpatient services as well as several new requirements around price transparency and data sharing.The rule will reduce the regulatory burden on hospitals by eliminating a number of reporting measures, saving hospitals more than 2 million burden hours and $75 million each year, according to the agency. Hospitals will see an average pay increase of approximately 3% to account for the change in prices for goods and services.
With merger vote approaching, Cigna and Express Scripts diverge on value-based contracts
As the deadline approaches for shareholders to vote on their proposed merger, Cigna and Express Scripts expressed different visions for value-based contracting this week. Express Scripts’ CEO stated that the merger would enhance Cigna’s focus on value-based delivery and care coordination. Investor confidence in the merger appears to be waning, with notable pundits including The Wall Street Journal believe Cigna will pay too much for the acquisition.
Secret Drug Price Rebates Will Go Away, Pfizer CEO Predicts
Drugmakers are likely to do away with ‘secret’ discounts to middlemen, stated Pfizer CEO. As the spotlight continues to shine on drug prices, these discounts continue to be a thorn in the side of the industry. Pfizer’s CEO is predicting a marketplace without rebates.
CVS Health Commits $10 Million to American Cancer Society in Support of Cancer Patient Services and Breakthrough Research
CVS Health pledged $10 million to the American Cancer Society through in-store fundraising. They also pledged to serve as the official retail pharmacy partner of the nation’s largest voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer. CVS Pharmacy customers can join in the company’s efforts and honor and support those affected by cancer by donating to the American Cancer Society at the register at 8,000 CVS Pharmacy locations nationwide or online at cancer.org/cvsdonate from August 5-25, 2018.