What’s New in Health Care Reform: Jan. 2

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.

Big Pharma Returning to U.S. Price Hikes in January after Pause

Novartis AG and Bayer AG are among nearly 30 drugmakers that have taken steps to raise the U.S. prices of their medicines in January, ending a self-declared halt to increases made by a pharma industry under pressure from the Trump administration, according to documents seen by Reuters. Via Reuters.

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Lives Lost, Organs Wasted—Organ Transplant Shortage Could Be Fixed by Expanding Donor Pool

Every day in America, 33 people die in need of new organs, and about 115,000 people are languishing on waiting lists. The chronic shortage of transplantable organs has spawned lawsuits by lung and liver patients, and forced industry officials to reassess rules that have governed organ distribution in America for decades. But tinkering with distribution will do nothing to boost overall supply. To do that, medical researchers and industry leaders say the system must aggressively pursue more less-than-perfect donors like Woodward—people often dismissed as too sick, too old or too complicated—and persuade transplant surgeons to accept their less-than-perfect organs. Via Washington Post.

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The $35 Billion Race to Cure a Silent Killer That Affects 30 Million Americans

At Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, the liver transplant group is busy handling an onslaught of patients who have come from all over the country in hopes of a chance at life. For many, a liver transplant is their last hope, after being diagnosed with a deadly disease sweeping the nation at epic proportions. People crowd the unit and undergo scores of testing and evaluation in an effort to get on the hospital's coveted transplant list. It's a program with a 94% survival rate after liver transplant, one of the highest in the nation. For many the culprit is a serious form of fatty liver disease called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, also known as NASH. Via CNBC.

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Crowdfunding Drives Funds and Attention toward Questionable Medical Treatments

Crowdfunding for medical bills, treatments, and related expenses has become common, often filling in the gaps when people don't have insurance or their insurance doesn't cover all their expenses. In 2017, one third of the money raised on GoFundMe globally was directed toward self-categorized medical campaigns, according to the company. The platform hosts about a quarter million medical campaigns each year that raise over $650 million. But some portion of those funds are for treatments of questionable value. Via NPR.

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Americans Rate Health Care Providers High on Honesty, Ethics

Most Americans trust their health care providers to be honest and ethical, but few other professions fare so well in Gallup's annual look at honesty and ethical standards among various fields. Nurses top the list with 84% of the public rating their standards as "high" or "very high," while members of Congress fall to the bottom—the only profession for which a majority of Americans (59%) rate honesty and ethical standards as "low" or "very low." Nurses have topped the list every year but one since Gallup first asked about them in 1999. In 2001, Gallup included firefighters in the list based on their heroic efforts in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and 90% of the public rated their honesty and ethical standards as "high" or "very high." A majority of Americans viewed only six of the 22 professions Gallup measured in its December 7–11 poll as having "high" or "very high" ethical standards. For 10 of those professions, fewer than one in five Americans rated the standards as "high" or "very high"—including key aspects of American society such as lawyers, lawmakers and business executives. Via Gallup.

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10 Top Questions You Had for Dr. Google in 2018

People were curious about the keto diet, ALS, and endometriosis in 2018. Those are just a few of the health-related topics that had Internet surfers in the United States turning to Dr. Google with questions this year, according to a top 10 list from the search engine giant. The data, based on search terms, was collected from January to mid-December. Last year, some of the top health-related questions searched on Google included what causes hiccups, how to stop snoring, how long flu lasts and what is lupus. Some of the top health-related questions on Google in 2016 were related to Zika, traumatic brain injuries and cupping. Here's a look at the top trending health-related questions for this year—along with their answers. Via CNN.

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Sanofi's Children's Vaccine Approved by U.S. FDA

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Sanofi’s new pediatric vaccine immunizing children against six diseases, the French pharmaceutical lab said. Sanofi developed the new vaccine, dubbed Vaxelis, in partnership with Merck. Vaxelis is designed for children aged 6 weeks to 4 years old and is designed to keep them from contracting diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, poliomyelitis, hepatitis B, and invasive disease due to haemophilus influenza type B. Sanofi and Merck are now working on the production and supply of Vaxelis aiming to make it available on the market in 2020 or later. Via NBC News.

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Cancer Treatment and Arthritis: A Growing Complaint

A recent publication in Arthritis & Rheumatology from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, reported on 61 cases of rheumatic syndromes in patients being treated with ICIs from 2011 to 2018. When asked if the incidence of these complications will likely continue to rise, lead author Uma Thanarajasingam, M.D., told MedPage Today, "We don't have a definite answer to this as yet, but I would expect that as the number of checkpoint inhibitors approved for clinical use expands, as well as the clinical indications for their use, we will be seeing a greater number of rheumatic toxicities." Via MedPage Today.

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Suicide Rates on the Rise in Minnesota

Nearly 800 Minnesotans died by suicide in 2017, up 5% from the previous year. But the trend has been growing upward for some time now. “There are a lot of people that don’t necessarily reach out to the services or even know that there are services out there,” said Stephanie J. Miller, LICSW, a clinical social worker at Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin. Via KAAL.

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Andy Tofilon

Andy Tofilon is a Marketing Segment Manager at Mayo Clinic Laboratories.