The Rundown | Week of 12.16.2019

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US to Import Drugs from Canada

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) declared in a report this week that they will take steps to “allow the safe importation of certain drugs originally intended for foreign markets” to “provide safe, lower cost drugs to consumers.” The report, titled the Safe Importation Action Plan, describes two pathways for legal drug importation, including authorizing “demonstration projects to allow importation of drugs from Canada” and allowing manufacturers to “import versions of FDA-approved drug products that they sell in foreign countries that are the same as the U.S. versions.”
>> Read More: Safe Importation Action Plan

Study: We Should Pay More Attention to Alcohol Intervention Measures

A recent study from the JAMA Network provides evidence that “alcohol use is a preventable risk factor for cancer.” The study, conducted by William M. P. Klein, PhD, Paul B; Paul B. Jacobsen, PhD; and Kathy J. Helzlsouer, MD, MHS, examined “trends in alcohol consumption along with cancer incidence and mortality rates” and found that “even moderate levels of consumption (often defined as 14-28 g/d, the equivalent of about 1-2 drinks) appear to be associated with a higher risk of some cancers, including cancers of the female breast.” The study advocates for greater intervention and consumer awareness of the risks associated with alcohol consumption.
>> Read More: Alcohol and Cancer Risk: Clinical and Research Implications

DOJ to Sue CVS Health and Ominicare

The Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a lawsuit against CVS Health and Omincare seeking “damages and civil penalties under the False Claims Act for fraudulently billing federal healthcare programs for hundreds of thousands of non-controlled prescription drugs dispensed on stale, invalid prescriptions to elderly and disabled individuals.” The suit states that “Omnicare’s practice of illegally dispensing drugs to elderly and disabled individuals living in residential facilities exposed these vulnerable individuals to a significant risk of harm” and that by dispensing these drugs, Omnicare “presented, or caused to be presented, hundreds of thousands of false claims to Medicare, Medicaid, and Tricare.”
>> Read More: Manhattan U.S. Attorney Files Lawsuit Against Omnicare, Country’s Largest Long-Term Care Pharmacy, And Parent Company CVS For Fraudulently Billing For Drugs Dispensed to Elderly And Disabled Individuals Without Valid Prescriptions

CMS Overpaid EHR Incentives by $93.6M

The Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) Office of Inspector General reports that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) “made incorrect net incentive payments of $93.6 million.” The report attributes these incorrect payments to two causes: “(1) the Medicare administrative contractors did not review the supporting documentation for all hospitals to identify errors in the hospitals’ cost-report numbers used to calculate incentive payments; and (2) CMS did not calculate labor and delivery services in the incentive payment calculations.” The report notes that the incorrect payments comprised “less than 1 percent” of total incentive payments.
>> Read More: CMS Made an Estimated $93.6 Million in Incorrect Medicare Electronic Health Record Incentive Payments to Acute-Care Hospitals, Or Less Than 1 Percent of $10.8 Billion Total Incentive Payments

Vaping and Other E-Cigarette Use Linked to Respiratory Disease

A study from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine reports that e-cigarettes are “an independent risk factor for respiratory disease in addition to combustible tobacco smoking.” The study, conducted by Dharma N. Bhatta, Ph.D., MPH, and Stanton A. Glants, Ph.D., of the University of California, analyzed the rate of respiratory disease in e-cigarette users over time. The study states that “for most smokers, using an e-cigarette is associated with lower odds of successfully quitting smoking.”
>> Read More: Association of E-Cigarette Use With Respiratory Disease Among Adults: A Longitudinal Analysis

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