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Health Brief: Pfizer Considers Selling OTC Health Products Division


Government Brief

  • The Trump administration is justifying its plan to repeal the Clean Power Plan by arguing that the Obama administration exaggerated public health gains. When former President Barack Obama unveiled his plan to reduce emissions from U.S. power plants two years ago, he said it would lead to 3,600 fewer premature deaths, 90,000 fewer asthma attacks in children and fewer hospital admissions by 2030. (Bloomberg)
  • After failing multiple times to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, many Republican health policy experts — and some elected GOP officials — say it is time for the party to shift its focus toward making smaller changes to the 2010 law and the health care system overall, partially out of fear that continuing the repeal push could make it harder for the party to achieve other legislative goals. (Axios)
  • Hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico would likely face an easier recovery if it were a state, as territories get less help from the federal government compared to states and have less flexibility over its safety net programs, which include community health centers and Medicaid and Medicare during crises. (FiveThirtyEight)

Business Brief

  • Pfizer Inc. said it could explore options for its Consumer Healthcare Division, which produces Advil, Centrum and Emergen-C. The drug company said it may sell or spin off the operation, which is one of the largest businesses for over-the-counter health care products in the world. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • Cleveland Clinic is cautiously optimistic that its advisory role for a group building a hospital in China could lead to future opportunities in the region. The $8 billion health system already has a presence in Canada and the United Arab Emirates, and is opening a facility in the United Kingdom. (Crain’s Cleveland Business)
  • A Food and Drug Administration panel on Thursday plans to consider whether to recommend the approval of a gene therapy developed by Philadelphia-based Spark Therapuetics that improved vision for three youths and some others who suffer from hereditary blindness. If approved, the treatment, Luxturna, would be the first gene therapy in the United States for an inherited disease. (The Associated Press)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Tuesday
No events scheduled
Wednesday
House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing on 340B 10 a.m.
Bipartisan Policy Center event on Medicare and Social Security 10 a.m.
House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing on the opioid crisis 10:15 a.m.
National MACRA MIPS/APM Summit 1 p.m.
Thursday
National MACRA MIPS/APM summit 7 a.m.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce event on the opioid epidemic 8:30 a.m.
Friday
National MACRA MIPS/APM summit 7:30 a.m.
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General

Trump Plays Down Health Hazard in Justifying Climate Rule Repeal
Jennifer A Dlouhy, Bloomberg

When President Barack Obama unveiled his plan to pare emissions from U.S. power plants two years ago, he stressed the long-term health benefits: 3,600 fewer premature deaths, 90,000 fewer asthma attacks in children and a decline in hospital visits. Now, the Trump administration is justifying its rollback of the Clean Power Plan by arguing its predecessor exaggerated the public health gains.

Where ‘repeal and replace’ rhetoric goes from here
Caitlin Owens, Axios

Congressional Republicans have failed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, but some of them aren’t ready to stop campaigning on that promise. “I don’t see any problem with talking about repeal and replace. We still want to do it. It’s not over,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch said.

If Puerto Rico Were A State, Its Health Care System Would Recover Faster From Maria
Anna Maria Barry-Jester, FiveThirtyEight

Nearly three weeks after Hurricane Maria landed in Puerto Rico as a Category 4 hurricane, health care providers are still struggling. Almost all of the community health centers — which are a lifeline for the poorest people — on the western half of the island were still closed Friday or operating at partial capacity.

Politics in Focus as Spanish Stocks, Dollar Drop: Markets Wrap
Cormac Mullen, Bloomberg

Politics remained the dominant theme in the markets on Tuesday as Spanish stocks declined and the euro rose before a pivotal meeting of Catalan’s regional parliament. The dollar weakened on concerns over U.S. tax reform and sterling rose as U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May won support for her Brexit stance.

Payers

Trump could make waves with health care order
Peter Sullivan, The Hill

President Trump’s planned executive order on ObamaCare is worrying supporters of the law and insurers, who fear it could undermine the stability of ObamaCare. Trump’s order, expected as soon as this week, would allow small businesses or other groups of people to band together to buy health insurance.

Long-Term Disability Insurance Gets Little Attention But Can Pay Off Big Time
Michelle Andrews, Kaiser Health News

“It won’t happen to me.” Maybe that sentiment explains consumers’ attitude toward long-term disability insurance, which pays a portion of your income if you are unable to work. Sixty-five percent of respondents surveyed this year by LIMRA, an association of financial services and insurance companies, said that most people need disability insurance.

Providers

Cleveland Clinic strengthening its global grip
Lydia Coutré, Crain’s Cleveland Business

Cleveland Clinic is cautiously optimistic that the system’s new relationship with a group interested in building a hospital in China could develop into something more. Invited by a “multinational group that has activities in several Asian countries,” the clinic agreed to serve in an advisory role, said Bill Peacock, the clinic’s chief of operations.

245 workers laid off at nursing home where residents died in heat
Marcia Heroux Pounds, Sun Sentinel

A nursing home in Hollywood, closed after the death of 12 residents, has laid off its employees. The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills notified the state that it laid off 245 people on Sept. 20.

Dallas nursing home chain comes under fire for not evacuating before hurricane
Terri Langford and Holly K. Hacker, The Dallas Morning News

When the police arrived at the nursing home during Hurricane Harvey, more than a foot of water filled the one-story building — along with the stench of urine and feces. Volunteers with boats stood ready to remove the 70 frail residents, many of them in wheelchairs.

A hospital threw a stillborn baby out with dirty laundry. Now the family is suing.
Samantha Schmidt, The Washington Post

The night after Esmeralda Hernandez delivered her stillborn, premature baby in April 2013, she kept the tiny boy close by in her hospital room overnight. With family members by her side, she mourned the loss of the boy she’d named José.

Pharma, Biotech and Devices

Pfizer Considers a Sale or Spinoff of Its Consumer Healthcare Business
Allison Prang, The Wall Street Journal

Pfizer Inc. PFE said Tuesday that it could explore a sale or spinoff of its business that produces Advil, Centrum and Emergen-C. Pfizer said its options for the Consumer Healthcare division, one of the biggest businesses for over-the-counter health-care products in the world, could include a full or partial separation.

Seeing hope: FDA panel considers gene therapy for blindness
Marilynn Marchione, The Associated Press

A girl saw her mother’s face for the first time. A boy tore through the aisles of Target, marveling at toys he never knew existed.

In a First, Gene Therapy Halts a Fatal Brain Disease
Gina Kolata, The New York Times

For the first time, doctors have used gene therapy to stave off a fatal degenerative brain disease, an achievement that some experts had thought impossible. The key to making the therapy work? One of medicine’s greatest villains: HIV.

Flexion CEO: ‘Absolutely thinking’ about exploring additional uses for new non-opioid drug
Michelle Fox, CNBC

Flexion Therapeutics’ new non-opioid drug has been approved to treat knee pain, but the company will also likely explore any potential it could have for other areas of the body, its CEO told CNBC on Monday. On Friday, shares of Flexion soared more than 10 percent after the Food and Drug Administration approved its injectable drug Zilretta to treat osteoarthritis-related knee pain.

J&J shares upgraded by Wells Fargo, which says the third quarter was ‘turning point’ for stock
Thomas Franck, CNBC

Johnson & Johnson’s acquisition of biotech company Actelion will help to re-accelerate top-line growth, according to one Wall Street firm. Wells Fargo raised its rating on J&J on Monday, saying improved performance could lead to better-than-expected third-quarter results and gains in 2018.

Health IT

CAQH lays out gradual changes to efficiency, flexibility and standardization of provider data
Evan Sweeney, FierceHealthcare

The Council for Affordable Quality Healthcare (CAQH) wants to redesign the way data flows through the healthcare ecosystem to lessen the burden on providers and improve the accuracy of medical data. To do that, the organization’s Provider Data Action Alliance laid out a roadmap that begins with an endorsement from industry leaders and advocates for a gradual overhaul of data systems and standards.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Taking a Hard Look at Our Country’s Maternal Mortality Problem
Maddy Oden, Morning Consult 

Each year, 700 to 900 women in America die from pregnancy or childbirth-related causes, and another 65,000 nearly die from complications. This places the United States 50th in the world in maternal mortality rates and dead last among developed countries.

Trump’s Gamble on Health-Care Costs
The Editors, Bloomberg

Lost in the debate over how best to insure Americans against the high cost of health care has been the question of how to bring that cost down. That’s a shame, because keeping the cost of medical treatment from rising so fast is just as important as providing Americans access to it.

Shouldn’t Doctors Control Hospital Care?
Sandeep Jauhar, The New York Times

Who ultimately should be in charge of care at our nation’s hospitals — physicians or businesspeople? In January 2016, the board of directors at Tulare Regional Medical Center, a small community hospital in central California, voted to terminate the elected leaders of its medical staff office.

Doubtful Science Behind Arguments to Restrict Birth Control Access
Aaron E. Carroll, The New York Times

In a new rule about coverage of contraception, the Trump administration argues against the positives of birth control and highlights potential harms. But those claims don’t stand up to scrutiny.

A Flawed Study Depicts Drug Companies as Profiteers
Peter J. Pitts, The Wall Street Journal

Are drug companies ripping off cancer patients? Of course they are, suggests a much-hyped study published last month in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine. The truth is more complicated.

Research Reports

Improving Clinical Guidelines and Decisions under Uncertainty
Charles F. Manski, The National Bureau of Economic Research

This paper discusses how limited ability to assess patient risk of illness and predict treatment response may affect the welfare achieved by adherence to clinical practice guidelines and by decentralized clinical practice. I explain why predictive ability has been limited, calling attention to imperfections in clinical judgment and to questionable methodological practices in the research that supports evidence-based medicine.