The Rundown | Week of 10.15.2018

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CMS to Require Drugmakers to Display Prices in Ads

The Trump administration commented that it will require pharmaceutical companies to disclose prescription drugs’ prices in TV advertisements. The rule would require any medicine that costs more than $35 to display the figure in “a legible manner” within the ad. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar said, “We will not wait for an industry with so many conflicting and perverse incentives to reform itself.” The cost of the rule would fall on drugmakers and cost approximately $5.2 million in the first year. Critics argued that, even if passed, the law has no mechanism to enforce compliance and, furthermore, would require cooperation from private industries. The list price, some have noted, is often an inaccurate representation of what a consumer would pay, which can vary widely.
>> Read More: Should TV Drug Ads Be Forced To Include A Price? Trump’s Team Says Yes

Apple Partners with Orthopedic Manufacturer

Apple has partnered with Zimmer Biomet, an orthopedic medical device manufacturer, to explore applications for Apple Watch in knee and hip replacement surgery patients. The app — mymobility™ — is designed to coordinate care between surgeons and other personnel both before and after treatment as well as in outpatient settings. Fifteen medical centers are testing the technology on a projected 10,000 patients over the next few years. “We believe one of the best ways to empower consumers is by giving them the ability to use their health and activity information to improve their own care,” said Jeff Williams, chief operating officer at Apple. “We are proud to enable knee and hip replacement patients to use their own data and share it with their doctors seamlessly, so that they can participate in their care and recovery in a way not previously possible through traditional in-person visits.” Last month, Apple unveiled a new model of the smartwatch, which featured an FDA-approved electrocardiogram that also monitors users’ activity to detect falls. >> Read More: Apple sees role for Watch app in hip, knee replacement recovery

Anthem Sued $16 Million for HIPAA Violation

In what is the largest settlement ever for a health data breach, Anthem has agreed to pay $16 million to the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR). The penalty was the consequence of the massive 2015 cyberattack in which nearly 79 million patients’ electronic protected health information (ePHI) records were hacked. A separate $115 million fine will cover the costs of four years of credit monitoring as well as the claims and fees for affected individuals. However, Anthem has denied any wrongdoing and refused to acknowledge that any beneficiaries were affected. Investigators disagreed, stating that names, Social Security numbers, addresses, email addresses, employment information, and other identifiers protected HIPAA were stolen. This settlement follows a recent report that indicated that, at 27 percent, the healthcare industry was the target of the majority of data breaches.
>> Read More: Anthem shells out $16M in largest ever HIPAA fine

Expanded Medicaid Linked to Better Health Results

The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the National Center for Health Statistics concluded that low-income individuals in states without expanded Medicaid have an increased risk of avoiding necessary medical care when compared to Medicaid-expanded states. This conclusion was released amid election debates, particularly in Georgia and Utah. Further findings showed that more than twice as many low-income people in non-expanded states forewent needed medical care due to cost. Furthermore, approximately 50 percent more people in non-expanded states said they either skipped medication doses to save money. Senator Ron Wyden, who requested the analysis, said, “States around the country have an opportunity to expand Medicaid to more people; these findings help show why it’s a winning proposition for states and the millions of Americans currently left out.”
>>Read More: Study: Without Medicaid expansion, poor forgo medical care

Study Shows Artificial Sweeteners Harm Gut Bacteria

A study in Molecules indicates that common sugar alternatives — such as aspartame, sucralose, saccharine, and others —  kill healthy gut bacteria. When researchers exposed 1 milligram per milliliter to gut bacteria, the bacteria turned toxic. To further test their conclusions, researchers treated mice with the artificial sweetener neotame and observed that the mice’s metabolic activity fluctuated as fatty acids, lipids, and cholesterol spiked when compared to the control group. These findings suggest not only might the supplements negatively affect digestive health and induce glucose intolerance, but might also trigger mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
>> Read More: Effects of the Artificial Sweetener Neotame on the Gut Microbiome and Fecal Metabolites in Mice

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