Weekend Wrap-Up / Miscellany

  • OPM announced earlier this week that the Senate has confirmed Howard Weizmann as OPM Deputy Director. Mr. Weizmann replaces Dan Blair who now serves as Chairman of the Postal Regulatory Commission.
  • The Senate Finance Committee announced a tentative bipartisan compromise on the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) reauthorization. The compromise calls for a $35 billion increase in funding over five years which would be funded with a tobacco tax increase. The House wants a $50 billion increase which would be funded with Medicare Advantage cuts. The Washington Post reports today that the President would veto the Senate compromise. The Bush administration had proposed a $5 billion funding increase and is concerned that the Senate and House approaches will encourage people to drop their private coverage in favor of the publicly subsidized SCHIP coverage. The SCHIP authorization expires on September 30, so expect this issue to come to a head soon.
  • The House passed its version of the FDA user fee reauthorization bill, which now must go to conference with the Senate version. This bill also must be enacted by the end of September.
  • The San Francisco Chronicle offers an interesting report today on the biogenerics issue which Congress may take up as part of the FDA user fee reauthorization bill after a Senate bipartisan compromise approach was announced last month.
  • The AP reports that adverse side effect reports on the GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) blockbuster diabetes drug Avandia tripled in the month following the release of a New England Journal of Medicine report. discussed in the May FEHBlog, suggesting that Avandia may cause heart ailments. A spokesperson remarked that “This is a very well-known phenomenon,” where news reports lead to increased reporting. It’s good that there’s awareness of the reporting system, but drawing conclusions on such data is inappropriate.” FDA hearings on the issue begin on July 30.
  • U.S. News and World Report has issued its 2007 list of the top 100 hospitals in the U.S. Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD, leads the list followed by the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, and the UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, CA.