Medicine is at a crossroads; cardiology in particular. I saw this fact magnified at the American Society for Preventive Cardiology’s recent town hallon access barriers to PCSK9 inhibitors. The event was entitled, “Unraveling a Therapeutic Conundrum,” and the conundrum is this: Will we embrace the potential that these innovative drugs hold for patients, or will we use them as a scapegoat for soaring health care costs?
A new analysis calls for drastic price reductions for PCSK9 inhibitors, breakthrough lipid-lowering medications. Data published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggest that the treatments would need to be reduced to two-thirds their current price to meet analysts’ cost-effectiveness thresholds.
But critics say the analysis drastically overestimates the number of patients who receive the treatment – and overlooks the individual value of these treatments for patients whose high cholesterol is not adequately controlled by traditional statins.
More at Institute for Patient Access
Heart disease is the longstanding No. 1 killer of Americans, and the leading cause of death among Marylanders. While this silent killer devastates populations of all racial and ethnic groups, African-Americans are at the highest risk – deaths from heart disease among African Americans are 30 percent higher when compared to the White population.
Many African-Americans are all too familiar with family members who have struggled with this disease and have witnessed firsthand the devastating effects from physical to psychological to financial. With new breakthroughs in life-saving medicines, why does this death toll remain so high? Access continues to be a defining problem for doctors and their patients.
Read more at Orlando Advocate
Under fire from senators in both parties, a senior federal health official told Congress on Tuesday that the Obama administration would adjust its plan to reduce Medicare payments for many prescription drugs, but those assurances did not fully allay deep concerns.
The official, Dr. Patrick H. Conway, a deputy administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, indicated to the Senate Finance Committee that the administration would probably go ahead with its proposal in some form, and he promised that officials would try to prevent any harm to patients.
That did little to calm bipartisan fears. Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, called the administration plan “an ill-conceived experiment” and suggested that it was a form of “human subjects research” for which the government needed the consent of patients.
Read more at New York Times
When it comes to quality health care, the U.S. Latino population starts out at a serious demographic disadvantage. We are more likely to lack health insurance and face other serious hurdles to accessing quality care. And the incidence of serious disease is much higher among Hispanics than the American population at large.
For instance, heart disease is the nation’s No. 1 killer, and among Hispanics, cardiovascular disease is even more pervasive because of heightened risk factors, like high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes.
Read more at Fox News Latino
A proposed new test of different ways for Medicare to pay for drugs — including linking how much the program will pay to a medication's effectiveness — is drawing fire from critics who warn it could lead to reduced access to potentially life-saving treatments, and say it would directly conflict with Obamacare rules.
Read more at CNBC
In an effort to combat high drug prices, health insurance companies are trying to pay drugmakers for how well their medicines perform . But health plans are running into a problem all too familiar in digital health: They are having trouble gathering and interpreting the right data, Pro’s Darius Tahir reports this morning.
“The typical payer has claims data…but not the clinical data underlying the service they’re being billed for. The payer knows that a patient’s cholesterol was tested…but not whether his or her cholesterol levels improved since the last reading. Without that knowledge, an insurer can’t assess whether, say, the multi-thousand dollar PCSK9 inhibitor the company paid for is actually reducing “bad” cholesterol — or improving heart health.”
Read more at Politico
Lost in the noise of political posturing over health care, there’s one widely accepted principle: the importance of the doctor-patient relationship in medical decision-making.
Read more at the Heartland Institute
The cost per effectively treated patient was lower with the PCSK9 inhibitor evolocumab compared with alirocumab over a 1-year period, according to analysis presented at the National Lipid Association Scientific Sessions.
Read more at Healio
A group of Icelandic researchers, part of an Amgen 1.02% unit called deCODE genetics, uncovered a rare and previously unknown genetic variation in some people that drastically reduces the risk of a heart attack and lowers cholesterol levels.
Read more at Fortune
Scientists at the National Institutes of Health are reporting evidence that human telomeres can be favorably lengthened by medical drug treatment. Telomeres are the ends of our chromosomes and function to protect them from damage. Over time, telomeres shorten, and this shortening has been linked with increased disease risk.
Read more at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute
People who get their high blood pressure down to normal levels may substantially cut their risk of heart disease -- even if they're elderly or have already had heart problems, new research suggests. The study results, from a major clinical trial called SPRINT (Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial), add to evidence that aggressively treating high blood pressure in older adults can pay off.
Read more at Newsmax Health
Sedentary behavior is associated with increased amounts of calcium deposits in heart arteries, which in turn is associated with a higher risk of heart attack, cardiologists have found.
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I was fortunate to have the opportunity to speak at length with Matt Perrone prior to his submitting an April 20th article on the PSCK9 inhibitors’ unexpectedly low uptake in the medical community. His piece was excellent; yet it failed to address the most salient aspect of this problem: Patients are suffering.
More at Preventive Cardiology Inc.
Pediatric researchers have devised an innovative, safe and minimally invasive procedure that helps relieve rare but potentially life-threatening airway blockages occurring in children who had surgery for congenital heart defects. Physician-researchers developed new imaging tools to treat plastic bronchitis -- in which abnormal circulation causes lymphatic fluid to dry into solid casts that clog a child's airways.
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