Health Brief: Eli Lilly to Cut 3,500 Jobs


Government Brief

  • Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a potential presidential contender, is crafting a health care bill that would let individuals and businesses buy into Medicare as part of the Affordable Care Act exchanges. While Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and other potential challengers to President Donald Trump embrace the liberal priority of “Medicare for all,” Murphy is taking a more pragmatic approach that would have the country take a step toward that goal but could also appeal to vulnerable incumbent Democrats. (Politico)
  • The outline of a deal to bolster the Obamacare exchanges in the near term is taking shape in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) suggested he would be willing to fund cost-sharing reduction payments for multiple years in exchange for “structural changes” to the ACA, but time constraints and an alternative effort to repeal Obamacare could complicate the bipartisan push. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said he supports a five-year reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, in a major boost to state administrators who are seeking certainty over funding for their programs. Senators still need to reach agreement on a funding level for CHIP, which covers millions of lower- and middle-class families and will expire at the end of September without congressional action. (Washington Examiner)

Business Brief

  • Eli Lilly and Co. announced plans to eliminate 3,500 jobs, roughly 8 percent of its workforce, to save approximately $500 million annually starting next year as it focuses on developing new treatments and revamping its cost structure. (The Indianapolis Star)
  • The Food and Drug Administration sent a warning letter accusing Pfizer of not properly investigating reports of EpiPens malfunctioning, including instances when the device failed to work and patients died or became critically ill. Pfizer manufactures the allergy treatment for the drugmaker Mylan. (The New York Times)
  • A new study shows that medication abortion is just as safe via telemedicine as when doctors guide the patients on using the treatment plan in person. Eighteen states have laws on the books requiring that doctors see abortion patients in person. (Reuters)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Friday
Govs. Hickenlooper, Kasich discuss bipartisan ACA plan 9 a.m.
NIHCM webinar on cancer care 1:30 p.m.
Medicare Payment Advisory Commission September meeting 10 a.m.
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General

Chris Murphy’s stealthy single-payer pitch
Elana Schor, Politico

While Bernie Sanders readies a single-payer health care bill that the GOP is itching to attack, one of his Democratic colleagues is proposing a step toward that goal that could give cover to the party’s vulnerable incumbents. Sen. Chris Murphy, a potential presidential contender, is working on legislation expected this fall that would let individuals and businesses buy into Medicare as part of Obamacare’s exchanges.

Dollar Tumbles as Yen, Euro Rally on Irma, ECB: Markets Wrap
Eddie Van Der Walt and Andreea Papuc, Bloomberg

The dollar tumbled to its weakest level since the start of 2015 amid fading expectations of another U.S. rate increase this year. Stocks declined and havens including gold and the yen rallied as North Korea tensions and natural disasters unsettled investors.

Payers

Plan to Fund Health Insurer Payments Coalesces
Michelle Hackman, The Wall Street Journal

The contours of a deal to fund insurer payments critical to the Affordable Care Act took shape Thursday, even as conservative lawmakers and the White House pushed an alternative plan to repeal parts of the law. Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.) said he hoped to reach an agreement with Democrats by the end of next week on the insurer payments, which offset subsidies they provide low-income consumers.

Orrin Hatch, Ron Wyden signal long Senate reauthorization for child insurance program
Robert King, Washington Examiner

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, told reporters he would be in favor of extending the Children’s Health Insurance Program for five years in a move sure to please Democrats and program supporters. The statement came after a hearing of the Senate Finance Committee, which Hatch chairs, on the fate of CHIP, which needs to be reauthorized by the end of this month.

New York extends ObamaCare enrollment deadline
Jessie Hellmann, The Hill

New York will extend its open enrollment period for ObamaCare plans, citing concerns about an earlier deadline set by the federal government. New York’s open enrollment will now begin on Nov. 1 and end on Jan. 31, officials said on Thursday.

Aggressive diagnoses and care spark big rise in Medicare sepsis discharges
Maria Castellucci, Modern Healthcare

The number of Medicare inpatient discharges for sepsis has been on a steady rise, and in 2015 it beat out major joint replacements as the most common discharge for the first time. On first glance, the results are jarring considering how the federal government and providers have made concentrated efforts in recent years to curb sepsis.

Providers

Health centers urge Congress to act to avoid mass closures
Virgil Dickson, Modern Healthcare

Brian Toomey is worried about uninsured patients that come to his community health centers in North Carolina. The majority of the federal funds that help keep the center on track will disappear at the end of the month baring congressional action.

Why scaling back bundled payment programs won’t stop the shift to alternative models
Shannon Muchmore, Healthcare Dive

Most of the healthcare industry has been collectively holding its breath as President Donald Trump and his administration settle in to their new roles. The biggest worry has so far not come to pass, as Republicans in Congress failed in their efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Pharma, Biotech and Devices

Eli Lilly to eliminate 3,500 jobs globally
Justin L. Mack and Shari Rudavsky, The Indianapolis Star

Eli Lilly and Co. on Thursday announced it will cut 3,500 positions as the drugmaker focuses on developing new medicines and improving its cost structure. The cuts will save an estimated $500 million annually beginning next year.

F.D.A. Accuses EpiPen Maker of Failing to Investigate Malfunctions
Katie Thomas, The New York Times

The Food and Drug Administration this week accused the drugmaker Pfizer of failing to properly investigate reports of malfunctioning EpiPens, including incidents when patients died or became severely ill after the device failed to work. Pfizer manufactures the EpiPen, which treats allergic reactions, for the drugmaker Mylan.

This Shield of Patents Protects the World’s Best-Selling Drug
Cynthia Coons, Bloomberg

Humira, a treatment for inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis made by AbbVie Inc., is the planet’s best-selling drug. It’s also been around almost 15 years. Those two facts alone would normally have rival drugmakers eagerly circling, ready to roll out generic versions that could win a piece of the aging medicine’s $16 billion in annual sales.

Meningitis B Vaccine’s High Price Tag Poses A Health Care Conundrum
Shefali Luthra, Kaiser Health News

Four years ago, when meningitis B, an extremely rare but potentially lethal form of the infection, sickened a small number of college students at Princeton and the University of California-Santa Barbara, there was no vaccine against the disease sold in the U.S. Despite its availability abroad, it had never been licensed in the country due to its limited marketability.

It’s not just one suspect herpes vaccine trial: Most experimental drugs are tested offshore — raising concerns about data
Rebecca Robbins, Stat News

The clinical trial for a herpes vaccine flouted just about every norm in the book: American patients were flown in to the Caribbean island of St. Kitts for experimental injections. Local authorities didn’t give permission.

Health IT

Abortion via telemedicine as safe as seeing doctor in person
Ronnie Cohen, Reuters

Though 18 states insist that doctors see abortion patients in person, new research shows that medication abortion is just as safe when doctors guide patients in the use of abortion-inducing drugs using remote video technology. “We can really say definitively now that there is no increased risk of complications among women who obtain medication abortion by telemedicine as opposed to women who have an in-person visit with a physician,” said lead author Dr. Daniel Grossman, an obstetrician-gynecologist and professor at the University of California, San Francisco.

Experts agree on HITECH’s value but diverge on ONC’s new role in enhancing interoperability
Evan Sweeney, Fierce Healthcare

Some of the nation’s foremost health IT experts see the value in the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) of 2009 that created federal incentives to entice thousands of hospitals and physician offices to adopt EHR systems in a matter of years. Those same experts also concede that the industry is facing entirely new challenges when it comes to EHR usability and interoperability.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Quality Affordable Health Care Is Within Our Reach
Annette Guarisco Fildes and David Lansky, Morning Consult 

At the heart of almost every conversation about health care reform is one question: “How do we make health care affordable and accessible for everyone in America?” As representatives of America’s largest employers, we believe the most important strategy for transforming our nation’s health care system is to accelerate payment and delivery reforms that share support among both Republicans and Democrats — value-based health care.

Putting a price on new cancer treatments
Alison Snyder, Axios

Last week, the FDA approved a new immunotherapy for treating a type of leukemia that affects children and young adults. The manufacturer, Novartis, expects it will cost about $475,000 for the one-time personalized treatment in which a patient’s immune cells are removed, modified so they attack cancer cells and then infused back into the body.

How good is a doctor at the end of a 28-hour shift?
Christopher Lee Bennett, Stat News

Somewhere around the eighth hour of my 28-hour shift in the hospital, a nurse told me that a patient had just been transferred from the intensive care unit to my floor. I stopped by the patient’s room to introduce myself.

Research Reports

Following the ACA Repeal-and-Replace Effort, Where Does the U.S. Stand on Insurance Coverage?
Sara R. Collins et al., The Commonwealth Fund

After Congress’s failure to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, some policy leaders are calling for bipartisan approaches to address weaknesses in the law’s coverage expansions. To do this, policymakers will need data about trends in insurance coverage, reasons why people remain uninsured, and consumer perceptions of affordability.