This week’s Innovation Partners BioBlog examines two major themes: the cost of cancer treatment, the Cigna-Express Scripts merger plans, and other top stories in healthcare. Among the topics examined in the cancer treatment category are the costs of genetics-based medicines, which are among the most promising yet expensive treatments available, as well as the closure of independent oncology centers, which reduces treatment options and pushes patients towards higher-cost hospital settings. This and more on the Innovation Partners BioBlog.
Innovative therapies using genetics-based medicines are expensive. The price tags range in the six figures, with additional expenses for drug delivery, hospital stays, and more. Insurers, drug companies, and hospitals are all wrestling with the implications of life-saving treatments that can cost millions of dollars.
The Trump Administration is changing Meaningful Use to reduce reporting measures and a new name. CMS plans to rename the Meaningful Use program to “Promoting Interoperability,” a move which reflects the current administration’s focus on reducing burdens and unnecessary regulations while emphasizing data sharing across providers. Additional emphasis is on price transparency among hospitals.
The Community Oncology Alliance (COA) hosted its annual meeting April 12-13, 2018, in National Harbor, Maryland. The conference focused on patient care and covered topics including CMS reimbursement programs, CAR T-cell treatments in a community cancer center-based setting, cancer pain management, transparency around drug pricing, and much more.
The $67 billion merger deal between Cigna and Express Scripts has raised more than just eyebrows in Washington. The Department of Justice requested additional information and is reviewing the details of the planned merger. This isn’t unusual; they are also reviewing the proposed CVS Health and Aetna merger, too.
The Florida Department of Health’s James and Esther King Biomedical Research Program has provided Moffitt Cancer Center, University of Florida (UF) Health Cancer Center – Gainesville, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami and several other centers working in collaboration with $1.36 million to address cancer disparities and improve outcomes and care for individuals affected by pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer is currently the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. It is projected to become the second leading cause around 2020. It also has the lowest five-year survival rate of any leading cancer at only 9 percent.
A decades-long trend of closing independent oncology clinics has left patients only with higher-cost alternatives such as treatment in hospital settings. Over the last decade, 1,653 community oncology clinics and practices have either closed, been acquired by hospitals, undergone corporate mergers or reported that they are struggling financially, according to a report from the Community Oncology Alliance.