Viewpoints: FDA’s Legal Test; What To Believe About Medical Errors?
A selection of opinions on health care from around the country.
The Wall Street Journal:
A Legal Test For The FDA
The Food and Drug Administration will decide this month whether to approve an innovative drug for a fatal form of muscular dystrophy, and one question is whether the agency’s management will rebuke the dubious science propagated by its staff reviewers. Here’s another: Will FDA defy a law that directs the agency to pick up the pace on treatments for rare diseases? Eteplirsen by Sarepta Therapeutics produces dystrophin, the protein missing in boys with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a condition that destroys every muscle in a decline from walking to wheelchair to death. Eteplirsen shows zero safety risks and four years of striking results in a clinical trial of 12 boys. FDA reviewers assert that the study is too small and maybe the drug doesn’t work, though Duchenne experts world-wide say otherwise. (5/9)
Marco Rubio To FDA: Don’t Yank Hope From Dying Children
This FDA advisory panel ... heard from an entire community of parents whose kids have Duchenne, who are seeing them improve, who know these kids better than any scientist, any doctor, any panelist at the FDA — and who begged for the drug to be approved. The committee, sadly, ruled against the drug. It did so because it essentially applied the same standard to this drug as it would to one designed to treat a much more common disease. (Marco Rubio, 5/9)
Don’t Believe What You Read On New Report Of Medical Error Deaths
Recent headlines telling us that medical errors are now the third leading cause of death deliver as much “news” as headlines telling us that Bill Clinton was the 42nd president of the United States. While the report in the BMJ — and the press release promoting it — sounded like researchers were on to something new, they were merely reminding us of old data. (Vinay Prasad, 5/9)
The Houston Chronicle:
Why Are 29 Million People Still Uninsured?
An estimated 20 million people have gained insurance since health care reform was signed into law in 2010, but in the six years since, a significant group of Americans remain uninsured. (Lara Cooper, 5/10)
The Wall Street Journal:
Partisanship’s Grip On The Affordable Care Act
You might think that people enrolled in the Affordable Care Act’s marketplace plans would like their coverage more or less depending on whether they have a high or low deductible, or receive a subsidy to help them pay their premium. Those factors and other elements of their coverage matter, but by far the biggest difference between those in marketplace plans who say they have benefited from the ACA or been negatively affected by it is whether they are a Republican or a Democrat. That’s one finding from an analysis of a Kaiser Family Foundation survey of people covered in the non-group insurance market, which provides the clearest illustration I have seen yet of how partisanship colors people’s views of the ACA. (Drew Altman, 5/10)
Who Will Take On The Brunt Of Rising Health Insurance Prices?
Donald Trump, the new presumptive Republican nominee for President, has been vocal about his issues with the Affordable Care Act (ACA). He has specifically pointed to the increasing price of premiums as a huge problem facing exchange customers. To anyone following news surrounding the ACA marketplaces, Mr. Trump’s words are not breaking news. While his claims may sometimes be exaggerated, it’s impossible to deny the cost of plans is on the rise. (Robert Harrow, 5/9)
The Washington Post's Wonkblog:
Sorry, Bernie Fans. His Health Care Plan Is Short $17,000,000,000,000.
Sen. Bernie Sanders has proposed paying for his proposals to transform large sectors of the government and the economy mainly through increased taxes on wealthy Americans. A pair of new studies published Monday suggests Sanders would not come up with enough money using this approach, and that the poor and the middle class would have to pay more than Sanders has projected in order to fund his ideas. The studies, published jointly by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center and the Urban Institute in Washington, concludes that Sanders's plans are short a total of more than $18 trillion over a decade. (Max Ehrenfreund, 5/9)
Prescribing Generic Drugs Could Have Saved $73 Billion
The nation could have saved an estimated $73 billion from 2010 to 2012 if clinicians had more frequently prescribed alternatives to brand-name drugs, a JAMA Internal Medicine study finds. The total out-of pocket savings for patients would have been about $25 billion. Researchers aimed to put a price tag on how much money could be saved overall and out-of-pocket through the use of generic drugs and “therapeutic substitutes.” The latter term describes prescription drugs for which no generic equivalent exists, but for which there is an equally effective alternative within the same drug class. (Sabriya Rice, 5/9)
The New York Times:
Using Tweets And Posts To Speed Up Organ Donation
Over the past 60 years, since the first kidney transplant was performed in Boston in 1954, there have been astonishing advances in the field. ... But there is a problem: Demand for organ transplants vastly outstrips supply. ...What could be done to harness people’s generous impulses more effectively to save lives? One group attacking the question is Organize, which was founded in 2014 by Rick Segal’s son Greg, and Jenna Arnold, a media producer and educator who has worked with MTV and the United Nations un engaging audiences in social issues. Organize uses technology, open data and insights from behavioral economics to simplify becoming an organ donor. This approach is shaking up longstanding assumptions. (David Bornstein, 5/10)
The Columbus Dispatch:
Plan Could Undo Health-Care Gains
Gov. John Kasich’s expansion of Medicaid through Obamacare provided health-care coverage to about 640,000 poor Ohioans. Now, an estimated 130,000 people stand to lose that coverage through the legislature’s misguided “Healthy Ohio Program.” (5/10)
Los Angeles Times:
Privacy Unprotected After Security Breaches
It's a question that grows in importance with each new report of a data breach: How much responsibility should companies take for protecting people's privacy? The most common response when a corporate database gets hacked is for the business to offer a year of free credit monitoring -- a better-than-nothing measure that will alert people to suspicious activity involving their credit files but will do nothing to prevent fraud, identity theft or other mischief. West Los Angeles resident Jairo Angulo and his wife were among nearly 80 million current and former Anthem health insurance policyholders whose personal information was reported hacked last February. (David Lazarus, 5/10)
Lincoln Journal Star:
Progress On Teen Births
Adherents to a broad spectrum of ideologies can find encouraging statistics in the latest round of reports on teen births and teen pregnancies. The Centers for Disease Control reported last month that the national teen birth rate hit an all-time low in 2013-14. Teen pregnancies – the sum of teen births, miscarriages and abortions – are also at historic lows. (5/10)
The Charlotte Observer:
Tired Doctors? They’ve Never Had It Better
As a physician who retired early for health reasons, I heard echoes of those same voices complaining from all 35 years of my active practice. I remembered all the talk of physician burnout and threatened early retirement when I, too, first excitedly started my practice in 1982; at that time, it was HMOs and malpractice insurance premiums that were the chief complaints.Being a physician is an emotionally taxing job, one that demands personal management of the stresses of illness and death every day. But the work-life balance of a primary care physician has never been better, especially for a physician working for a large corporation such as Carolinas Healthcare System. (Dr. John Scherr, 5/9)