Essential Updates: Comp Medical News Dec. 2017

Welcome to this month’s edition of Comp Medical News. Digital pills, more opioid lawsuits, and a follow up to the Kaiser Health News “liquid gold” investigation are your headlines moving into the New Year.


FDA Approves Digital Pill that Tracks Compliance


The FDA approved the first digital pill with an embedded sensor to track if patients are taking their medication properly. The technologically advanced medicine is a version of Otsuka Pharmaceutical’s established drug Abilify for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression, containing a tracking device developed by Proteus Digital Health.

Read more from Reuters here.


Insys Founder Pleads Not Guilty to Bribery Charges


The billionaire founder of drugmaker Insys Therapeutics Inc pleaded not guilty on Thursday to charges that he participated in a scheme to bribe doctors to prescribe a fentanyl-based spray to treat pain in cancer patients. The 74-year-old was charged with engaging in conspiracies to commit racketeering, mail fraud and wire fraud in an indictment filed in federal court in Boston. He was added as a defendant in a case against six former Insys executives and managers.

Read more from Reuters here.


Hospitals in Mississippi and Alabama to Sue Opioid Makers


A group of hospitals in Mississippi and Alabama are suing more than a dozen pharmaceutical companies, claiming the companies deceptively marketed and sold opioids. The Jackson, Mississippi-based Clarion Ledger reports that the class-action federal lawsuit was filed November 30th in Mississippi by Southwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center in McComb, Mississippi; Infirmary Health Hospitals, Inc., based in Mobile, Alabama; and Monroe County Healthcare Authority, based in Monroeville, Alabama. The hospitals are following a national trend in which individual entities, municipalities, states, and others are pursuing Big Pharma over the costs associated with opioid addiction and treatment.

Read more here.


Federal Drug Discount Program Faces Scrutiny


A federal drug discount program known as 340B, requires pharmaceutical companies to give steep discounts to hospitals and clinics that serve high volumes of low-income patients. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services struck a blow to the program this month announcing a final rule to cut Medicare payments for hospitals enrolled in the program by 28 percent, or about $1.6 billion. The American Hospital Association, the Association of American Medical Colleges, America’s Essential Hospitals and others filed suit on November 13th, arguing that the agency lacks the authority to slash the payments and that the rule undermines the intent Congress had when creating the program.

Read more via Kaiser Health News here.


Electrotherapy and Acupuncture Can Reduce Opioids after Knee Surgery


The only two common nonpharmacologic interventions for postoperative pain management of total knee arthroplasty (TKA) that were associated with reduced and delayed opioid consumption were electrotherapy and acupuncture, according to a new systematic review and meta-analysis. Three other frequently performed interventions analyzed in 39 published randomized clinical trials were continuous passive motion, preoperative exercise and cryotherapy. The study appeared in JAMA Surgery.

Read more via Pain Medicine News here.


Doctors Cash in With Urine Screens, Ignore Results


An ongoing Kaiser Health News investigation addressing the financials behind urine drug screens continues this month. The opioid crisis across the country has resulted in the promotion of urine drug screens as a way to prevent drug diversion and ensure that patients are not taking too much or too little medication, or if they are using illegal drugs concurrently. The latest installment of the investigation looks at what doctors do with urine drug screen results for which they are billing insurance companies. KHN discovered that many doctors simply ignore abnormal results.

Read more here.



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