The Georgia Pharmacy Association
By Andrew Kantor

November 16, 2017

Some Georgians can get zero-premium health insurance

It comes with a family deductible of $4,500 a year, but it’s a gold-level plan. For those who earn less than 400 percent of the federal poverty level, the federal subsidy makes the premium zero.

Downside: For those who make more than 400 percent of the poverty level, there aren’t subsidies to offset the higher premiums that resulted from the administration’s refusing to pay the ACA’s subsidies to insurers.

[M]any lower-income persons [sic] will now have access to health insurance coverage with zero-dollar premiums while middle-income families who don’t qualify for subsidies may be required to pay the equivalent of a second mortgage for the same coverage.

Maybe the ad police are at the doughnut shop

The FDA used to send warnings to drug makers about ads that violated policy or law. This year? Not so much.

The most interesting ‘sprue-like enteropathy’ story you’re likely to read today*

The FDA is being asked to ban olmesartan medoxomil (aka Azor, Benicar, or Tribenzor) because it “is associated with a risk of sprue-like enteropathy (a disorder that mimics celiac disease but does not improve with a gluten-free diet), which can cause significant morbidity in patients and outweighs its benefits in treating hypertension.”

* We could have gone with “The Taming of the Sprue” but that seemed a stretch.

The new blood-pressure guidelines are here!

New for the first time in 10 years, and the threshold’s been lowered. Anything above 120/80 is at least “elevated” if not actual hypertension. (The link is to a lay article. If you want to full report, click here for the 481-page PDF; a little light reading before bedtime, perhaps.)

Nothing to clap about

The first case of a ceftriaxone-resistant strain of gonorrhea has been found in North America — in Quebec, to be precise.

Back to that Allergan-Mohawk deal

Here’s a cool (and fairly short) story about how the Allergan patent deal with the Mohawk Indians came to be.

Most interesting: The lawyer who set it up points out that, if Congress closes the legal loophole he used to set up the deal, he’ll just use the same tactic with underfunded state colleges and universities — and that kind of deal has a bit more protection in the form of the 11th Amendment.

So why isn’t there an Alzheimer’s cure yet?

This article argues there are two main reasons: lack of funding and patent law*; the latter means it’s simply not profitable for a company to spend the money it will take to research a drug — the patent will expire before it has a chance to recoup its investment.

* At least in the U.S.

November 14, 2017

No, Amazon isn’t getting into the pharmacy business (probably)

All that worry was over nothing; Amazon isn’t going to be selling prescription drugs after all. Remember the industry-wide freak-out over the company buying pharmacy licenses? Turns out it’s planning to sell medical devices.

Industry “experts” are not to be deterred, however. ‘Well, it could happen,’ they insist.

Starvation can reverse diabetes

If you want to reverse diabetes, starve yourself. Not to death, mind you (although technically that would also work), but by cutting your daily caloric intake by three-quarters.

Yale researchers discovered that this VLCD (“very low calorie diet”) lowered the liver’s glucose production dramatically.

How long did it take? Three days.

They’re now looking for human subjects to test the approach.

Speaking of diabetes

GPhA past president and diabetes expert Jonathan Marquess was featured in a Drug Topics story on the new tools that are replacing glucose test strips and monitors.

The pill that knows when it’s been swallowed

And it can alert a physician. And it’s been approved by the FDA.

Right now the pill-with-a-sensor is only available for Abilify. Once a patient swallows the pill…

… the ingestible sensor inside it sends a message to a patch worn by the patient, which then transmits the information to a mobile app that the patient can monitor. If a patient opts to allow it, the patient’s caregivers and doctor can access the data online, too.

Another coffee study, another reason to drink it

This time a study finds coffee drinkers have a lower risk of heart attack or stroke.

They found that drinking coffee was associated with decreased risk of developing heart failure by 7 percent and stroke by 8 percent with every additional cup of coffee consumed per week compared with non-coffee drinkers.

Caveat: “It is important to note that this type of study design demonstrates an observed association, but does not prove cause and effect.” Yeah, yeah. By our math, that means drinking about 14 cups per day would eliminate your risk of heart failure. Get crackin’, folks.

Hospitals are suing HHS

The Trump administration issued a rule that would cut payments to hospitals under the 340(B) program — and now the American Hospital Association (and others) say that no, the Department of Health and Human Services doesn’t have the legal authority to make those cuts.

The portions of the rule being challenged in this case would reduce by nearly 30% Medicare reimbursements to certain public and not-for-profit hospitals and clinics for prescription drugs purchased by those institutions on a discounted basis under section 340B of the Public Health Services Act (the “340B Program”).

They say the cuts will result in hospitals losing $1.6 billion “in violation of both the Secretary’s statutory authority to reimburse hospitals for outpatient drugs under the Social Security Act and the purpose and design of the 340B program.”

Do you think the people who need this warning will pay attention?

The FDA is warning: Don’t inject yourself with silicone for “body contouring and enhancement.” Especially if it’s being done in a “doctor’s” home or hotel room. Seriously. People apparently do this.

Silicone, when injected into areas with many blood vessels such as the buttocks, can travel to other parts of the body and block blood vessels in the lungs, heart, or brain. This can result in permanent damage to those tissues and lead to stroke or death.

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