What’s New in Health Care Reform: Aug. 15

What's New in Health Care Reform provides an overview of the past week’s news, updates, and commentary in health care reform and utilization management.

New Estimates Show Overdose Deaths Surpassed 72,000, a New High, in 2017

Drug overdoses killed more than 72,300 Americans last year, a rise of around 10%, according to new preliminary estimates from the Centers for Disease Control. During 2017, the President declared the opioid crisis a national emergency, and states began tapping a $1 billion grant program to help fight the problem. But the epidemic appears more deadly than ever. Via NY Times.

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CVS Launches Program Targeting Expensive New Drugs

CVS Caremark will allow its clients to exclude coverage of drugs with extremely high launch prices under a new program the company said is aimed at pressuring manufacturers to lower drug costs. According to CVS, launch prices have been steadily rising for years and are completely up to the discretion of the manufacturer. The high prices put an unsustainable burden on the country’s health system, CVS said. Via The Hill.

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U.S. News Announces 2018–19 Best Hospitals

For the third consecutive year, the Mayo Clinic claimed the No. 1 spot on the Best Hospitals Honor Roll. The Cleveland Clinic ranked No. 2, followed by Johns Hopkins Hospital at No. 3. The Honor Roll is a distinction awarded to 20 hospitals that deliver exceptional treatment across multiple areas of care. Via U.S. News & World Report.

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Ambitious "Human Cell Atlas" Aims to Catalog Every Type of Cell in the Body

For the last two years, Regev, a professor of biology at MIT, has been co-leading a massive international effort to get that answer. Called the Human Cell Atlas Consortium, the effort aims to account for and better understand every cell type and sub-type and how they interact. The Human Cell Atlas has received less attention than the $3 billion Human Genome Project, which was completed in 2003 after 15 years of work. But it's equally ambitious. Via NPR.

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Teens Hooked by Vaping: FDA Weighing a Ban on Flavored E-Cigarette Liquids

Teen vaping is at the tipping point before possible epidemic levels, federal officials and public health advocates agree, but they're feuding over how fast and far to go to rein in the booming electronic cigarette industry. Some of the health groups that sued the Food and Drug Administration for delaying regulation of vape products by four years charged last week that the agency let several new devices similar to the youth-favored Juul hit the market without approval. Via USA Today.

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Mayo Clinic Names Its Next CEO

Gianrico Farrugia, M.D., has been selected as the next chief executive at Mayo Clinic, the Rochester-based health system that’s Minnesota’s largest private employer and an enduring draw for patients from around the world. Dr. Farrugia has worked at Mayo for 30 years, including his most recent job as chief executive for the clinic’s growing hospital in Jacksonville, Florida. He will work alongside current CEO John Noseworthy, M.D., through the end of the year, when the retiring chief executive will step down after nine years in the job. Via Star Tribune.

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FDA Approves First-Ever RNAi-Based Therapy

The Food and Drug Administration approved a landmark rare disease treatment—the first to rely on a Nobel-prize-winning technique known as RNA interference, which silences disease-causing genes. The approval is a major accomplishment for Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Alnylam, which will be marketing the drug patisiran as Onpattro and which has been working to bring an RNAi-based therapy to market for more than a decade. Via STAT.

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Companies Respond to an Urgent Health Care Need: Transportation

As America’s baby boomers are hitting 65 at a rate of 10,000 a day, and healthier lifestyles are keeping them in their homes longer, demand is escalating for a little talked-about—yet critical—health care-related job: Transporting people to and from non-emergency medical appointments. Via NY Times.

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CVS to Offer Nationwide Telemedicine Service through Smartphone Video

Think of it as a digital doctor. Drug store giant CVS Health plans to offer a nationwide service to treat easy-to-diagnose maladies and other medical issues via its smartphone app. The telemedicine service will be offered for diagnosis of conditions like colds and flu, skin issues, and general wellness matters. Via USA Today.

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Generic Drugmakers Struggle Despite U.S. Push for Copycats

Generic drugmakers are being crushed by the very forces that the Trump administration is counting on to drive down prescription costs. While policy makers are betting that opening the market to a deluge of new medicines and reforming the drug supply chain will help contain rising prices, many widely used copycat medications are already seeing their prices fall at such a rapid rate that their makers are struggling to keep their heads above water. Via Bloomberg.

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Andy Tofilon

Andy Tofilon is a Marketing Segment Manager at Mayo Medical Laboratories. He leads strategies for corporate communications, public relations, and new media innovations. Andy has worked at Mayo Clinic since 2003. Outside of work, Andy can be found running, hiking, snapping photos, and most importantly, spending time with his family.