Morning Consult Health: SEC Said to Be Investigating GE, Philips, Siemens in Alleged Medical Equipment Bribery Scheme in China


Top Stories

  • The Securities and Exchange Commission has launched a probe into allegations that Siemens AG, Philips NV and General Electric Co. have used local middlemen in China to arrange bribes with the Chinese government and hospital officials to purchase their medical equipment, according to two U.S. sources familiar with the matter. The SEC, the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation launched a similar investigation in May that accused the three companies, as well as Johnson & Johnson, of arranging bribes to win contracts in Brazil, although the companies have all denied wrongdoing. (Reuters)
  • California, Hawaii, Maine and the District of Columbia have joined other states and local governments in filing lawsuits against Purdue Pharma LP that accuse the pharmaceutical company of helping to fuel the opioid crisis by marketing OxyContin while downplaying its risk of addiction. Nearly a dozen states have also focused their lawsuits on former Purdue leader Richard Sackler and other members of the Sackler family. (The Associated Press)
  • Health insurer Humana Inc. does not plan to acquire rival Centene Corp., according to a filing with the SEC, putting an end to rumors of a possible acquisition as activist investors made efforts to have Centene sell itself rather than pursue its plan to acquire WellCare Health Plans Inc. in a $15.3 billion deal. (The Wall Street Journal)

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Events Calendar (All Times Local)

06/04/2019
AcademyHealth 2019 Annual Research Meeting
Health Affairs discussion: Community Care For High-Need Patients 9:00 am
House Committee on Energy and Commerce health subcommittee hearing on health extenders 10:00 am
Senate Judiciary Committee subcommittee hearing on patent eligibility, part I 2:30 pm
06/05/2019
American Bar Association: ERISA Basics National Institute
Axios hosts “Beyond 2020: Making Care Affordable,” with former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, Sens. Grassley and Stabenow 8:00 am
Senate Judiciary Committee subcommittee hearing on patent eligibility, part II 2:30 pm
06/06/2019
American Bar Association: ERISA Basics National Institute
06/07/2019
American Bar Association: ERISA Basics National Institute
View full calendar

Introducing: Gen Z’s Most Loved Brands

The definitive guide to which companies are winning over America’s youngest generation.

General

U.S. drug agency to ask Congress to classify illicit fentanyl like heroin
Sarah N. Lynch, Reuters

Illicit chemical knock-offs of the extremely potent opioid fentanyl would be put permanently in the same legal class as heroin to boost prosecutions of traffickers and makers of the drugs, under a proposal to be unveiled on Tuesday by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Poll: 1 in 4 Americans say cost led to skipping medical care
Peter Sullivan, The Hill

More than 1 in 4 Americans say they or a family member went without needed health care in the past two years because they felt they could not afford it, according to a new poll.

Democrats make Medicaid center of Kentucky governor fight
Nathaniel Weixel, The Hill

Kentucky Democrats want to make the state’s 2019 gubernatorial race ground zero in the battle over Medicaid expansion and work requirements.

In states with most overdose deaths, poor patients struggle to find treatment
Lisa Rapaport, Reuters

Poor people with opioid use disorders may struggle to find doctors to prescribe the anti-addiction drug buprenorphine in U.S. states with the highest overdose death rates, a new study suggests.

U.S. health officials report 41 new cases of measles last week
Gabriella Borter and Ankur Banerjee, Reuters

The United States recorded 41 new measles cases last week, bringing the year’s total number of cases to 981 in the worst outbreak of the disease since 1992, federal health officials said on Monday.

San Francisco eyes forced treatment for mentally ill addicts
Janie Har, The Associated Press

San Francisco supervisors were expected to consider a proposal Tuesday that could force drug addicts with serious mental illnesses into treatment.

Stocks Advance After Tech Rout; Treasuries Retreat: Markets Wrap
Todd White, Bloomberg

U.S. equity futures climbed and stocks in Europe reversed earlier losses as investors tried to shrug off negative sentiment following Monday’s rout in technology shares. Treasuries dropped for the first time in a week while the dollar edged up.

Payers

Obamacare rate hikes appear modest for 2020
Paul Demko, Politico

The era of annual eye-popping Obamacare rate hikes appears to be over. Premium increases in the law’s marketplaces are on track to be relatively modest for the second straight year, according to the first batch of 2020 rates proposed by insurers.

California Gov. Newsom Proposes Penalty To Fund Health Insurance Subsidies
Samantha Young and Ana B. Ibarra, Kaiser Health News

Under a proposal by Gov. Gavin Newsom, an estimated 850,000 Californians could get help paying their premiums, including people like Haas and Snyder, who together make too much to qualify for federal financial aid but still have trouble affording coverage.

Providers

FDA to make it easier for doctors to get unapproved cancer drugs for patients
Laurie McGinley, The Washington Post

The Food and Drug Administration plans to provide “concierge service” to doctors seeking access to unapproved drugs for cancer patients who have no other treatment options, the agency announced Monday.

Senate report reveals nearly 400 troubled nursing homes
Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, The Associated Press

The federal government for years has kept under wraps the names of hundreds of nursing homes around the country found by inspectors to have serious ongoing health, safety or sanitary problems. Nearly 400 facilities nationwide had a “persistent record of poor care” as of April, but they were not included along with a shorter list of homes that get increased federal scrutiny and do have warning labels, according to a Senate report released Monday.

Researchers pose as heroin users to find treatment gaps
Carla K. Johnson, The Associated Press

Posing as heroin users seeking help, researchers contacted hundreds of treatment clinics in U.S. states with the highest overdose death rates. The “secret shoppers” were denied appointments much of the time, especially if they said they were insured through Medicaid. The study revealed other roadblocks: high fees and a government website riddled with wrong phone numbers.

Pharma, Biotech and Devices

F.D.A. Can Act Against Stem Cell Clinic, Judge Rules
Denise Grady, The New York Times

A federal judge on Monday struck a blow against the rapidly growing stem cell industry, ruling for the Food and Drug Administration in its efforts to halt treatments by U.S. Stem Cell, a clinic in Sunrise, Fla., that blinded three patients by injecting a fat extract into their eyes.

Amgen’s drug — targeting an ‘undruggable’ cancer protein — shrank tumors in half of patients
Adam Feuerstein, Stat News

For years, scientists said creating a drug around the KRAS protein was impossible. On Monday, Amgen (AMGN) showed it had developed a medicine that shrank tumors in 50% of lung cancer patients.

CVS to open 1,500 HealthHUB stores over next two years
Angelica LaVito, CNBC

CVS will open 1,500 HealthHUB stores by the end of 2021, the company announced Tuesday ahead of its investor day. The HealthHUBs are remodeled drugstores that focus more on health services and products and less on candy and greeting cards.

Nevada adopts a law requiring drug makers to disclose costs for asthma meds, but to what end?
Ed Silverman, Stat News

In the latest state effort to peel back the curtain on drug pricing, Nevada has adopted a law that requires pharmaceutical companies to disclose prices and costs associated with their asthma medicines, a step that mirrors action taken two years ago on diabetes treatments.

How cheaper drugs are kept off the market
Caitlin Owens, Axios

The drug industry has plenty of tools to fend off the new, cheaper competitors called biosimilars — from lawsuits that prevent them from launching to deals that limit their profits after they launch.

Health IT

Quest Diagnostics announces possible data breach affecting almost 12 million patients
Zachary Halaschak, Washington Examiner

Quest Diagnostics said the personal and medical information of nearly 12 million people, including their Social Security numbers, has potentially been breached.

Time for your teeth cleaning? This startup simplifies dental care–through design
Rina Raphael, Fast Company

Dental care is finally getting the tech makeover that long ago transformed the mainstream healthcare sector.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

States Should Follow New York’s Lead to Rein In PBMs
Steve Moore, Morning Consult

PBMs defend their spread pricing tactics, of course, saying there’s nothing inherently wrong or even illegal about marking up the cost of goods sold. But the type of spread pricing New Yorkers, and indeed all Americans covered by Medicaid, Medicare or almost any commercial health plan, have been exposed to is above and beyond what’s appropriate “markup” for services rendered — as much as $300 million or more, according to a study the Pharmacists Society for the State of New York commissioned late last year.

Research Reports

Care For America’s Elderly And Disabled People Relies On Immigrant Labor
Leah Zallman et al., Health Affairs

As the US wrestles with immigration policy and caring for an aging population, data on immigrants’ role as health care and long-term care workers can inform both debates. Previous studies have examined immigrants’ role as health care and direct care workers (nursing, home health, and personal care aides) but not that of immigrants hired by private households or nonmedical facilities such as senior housing to assist elderly and disabled people or unauthorized immigrants’ role in providing these services.

Access to Office-Based Buprenorphine Treatment in Areas With High Rates of Opioid-Related Mortality: An Audit Study
Tamara Beetham et al., Annals of Internal Medicine

Improving access to treatment for opioid use disorder is a national priority, but little is known about the barriers encountered by patients seeking buprenorphine–naloxone (“buprenorphine”) treatment.