A Saudi Arabian man who died of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) probably caught the disease from one of his sick dromedary camels that he treated for a nasal discharge a month earlier. Samples taken from the man and camel found a genetically identical virus. This is the first conclusive evidence that camels may be the intermediate hosts of the bug. The exact reservoir the maintains the virus in its ecologic niche has yet to be identified, however.
The Saudi man fell ill about seven days after treating the camel with a topical medicine. He and three friends visited the camels daily but his friends, who had no direct contact with the animal, remained free of the virus.
Some health insurers intend to join more state Obamacare exchanges next year, a development that could lead to more moderate price increases, or even prices falls, as competition increases.
In Washington state, for example, four insurers plan to sell coverage for the first time in 2015, while in Indiana, the number of providers could double to eight.
Of the insurers, UnitedHealth Group (UNH) is set to offer new plans in the states mentioned, adding to five exchanges that it already operates on.
The providers could be hoping to benefit from "second-mover" advantage whereby they will look to sign up the increased number of younger and healthier people who are forecast to purchase coverage next year as the penalty for not doing so increases. Those who are in worse health and bought coverage last year are expected to remain with their existing plans.
Meanwhile, the Center for American Progress (CAP) think tank, which is close to the White House, has called for President Obama to appoint a CEO with private-sector experience to oversee Obamacare's federal and state online health insurance exchanges. The idea is that the exchanges would run as e-commerce sites. The CEO would also oversee insurers and market regulations, although not Medicare or Medicaid. (CAP report)
At last night's GeekWire Awards ceremony in Seattle, Leafly won App of the Year. The mobile app, described by some as the "Yelp of cannabis" helps pot consumers stay informed about cannabis strains, products and the best places to purchase them. It also connects patients to doctors who can assist them through the medical authorization process. It contains over 100K user-generated reviews of more than 800 cannabis strains as well as thousands of dispensaries and doctor locations around the world. GeekWire praised its functionality and clean professional appearance.
Leafly founder Cy Scott says, "Our team is truly honored to receive this award. When we released the app, our goal was to offer a simple way for medical and recreational cannabis consumers to get robust information at their fingertips. This award is a win for all who support the cannabis movement."
In response to dwindling revenues from patent expirations, drug companies are aggressively raising prices on their branded offerings. According to the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, $20B of the pharmaceutical industry's 2013 sales growth was due to price increases. This perfectly offset the $19.3B in revenue declines.
Since 2007, the CPI has risen 12% while some drug prices have inflated as much as 400%.
Therapies that cost $300K or more are becoming more common in light of the incentives afforded by the Orphan Drug Act.
Generics comprise 86% of all prescriptions filled but American spent $263B for medicines in 2012, up 11% from 2007's $236B.
Unsurprisingly, industry representatives insist that the proper focus should be on outcomes instead of prices. They also cite the ever-rising cost of R&D.
Imaging equipment, insulin pumps, defibrillators and refrigerators that store blood and drugs are examples of networked gear that have remote access control features.
The devices' software is plagued by common security holes like weak passwords, lack of authentication to access, easy-to-determine default and hard-coded passwords and embedded web servers and administrative interfaces that make it easy to identify and manipulate devices once found on the network.
Hospital are apparently just waking up to the potential risks.
Last spring, the FDA and DHS issued a notice to the health care industry about problems with hard-coded passwords after researchers found issues in ~300 devices.
The Health Care M&A Report tallies Q1 2014 deal volume of 239 transactions valued at $49.6B. The number of deals for Q4 2013 and Q1 2013 were 278 and 212, respectively. The $49.6B total value was up 11% versus Q4 and up 217% versus Q1.
The most deals were consummated in long-term care (60), pharmaceuticals (33), biotech (26) and devices (25).
The FDA proposes an "Expedited Access PMA" (EAP) process for medical devices that treat or diagnose patients with serious conditions whose medical needs are unmet by current technology. The program features earlier and more interactive participation by agency staff to collaboratively develop a plan for the collection of the scientific and clinical data to support approval. The EAP aims to reduce certain devices' development times in addition to the expected shortened premarket review.
Eligible devices must fit the following profile: 1) be intended to treat or diagnose a life-threatening or irreversibly-debilitating disease or condition and 2) represent one of the following: no approved alternative treatment/diagnostic exists or it represents a breakthrough technology that provides a clinically meaningful advantage over existing technology or offers a significant clinically meaningful advantage over currently-available alternatives or the device's availability is in the patient's best interest.
The proposed EAP builds on the Expedited Access Program for pharmaceuticals that the FDA launched in 2011.
Eight million people have enrolled for health insurance under Obamacare, President Obama said yesterday, easily surpassing earlier projections by the Congressional Budget Office for 6-7M signups by the end of March.
The high number of enrollments was achieved despite the technical problems that the online exchanges suffered, particularly when the Affordable Care Act was launched last year.
Around 35% of those who purchased coverage were people under 35, who are thought to be less likely need to treatment and so can help balance the cost of claims for those who need care.
However, Obama didn't provide details about the number of enrollees who already had insurance before Obamacare was introduced.
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