Happy Holidays!

I hope that everyone is enjoying the long holiday weekend and is looking forward to the new year.

Many years ago, I recall helping a client respond to an appeal over the medical necessity of a monitoring belt worn by women experiencing difficult pregnancies. I learned from the medical reviewer that the belt was valueless but the expectant mothers were aided by the daily contact with the monitoring nurse. That was a good lesson about the importance of human communication in the medical process. While that remains true, I learned from a report in the Oregonian that home health monitoring devices have improved dramatically over the years. Kaiser Permanente is using them successfully with chronically ill members to reduce the number of outpatient visits.

At the 2006 OPM carrier conference, Medco CEO David Snow spoke about value of personalized medicine. According to a report in the MercuryNews.com

[P]ersonalized medicine broadly represents the promise of delivering more effective, efficient medical care through genomics and other science that probes an individual’s makeup at the molecular level. The trend also includes secure Web portals that empower patients with greater knowledge.Personalized medicine, biotech pros say, is poised for dramatic progress in 2009, both in clinical practice and the lab.

Also on a tap for 2009, according to a Reuters interview with Teva North America Pharmaceutical’s CEO is a new federal law creating a regulatory pathway for biological follow-ons also known as biogenerics or biosimilars. Reuters reports that

Israel-based Teva, the world’s largest generic drug maker, has added to its biogeneric capabilities with its $7.46 billion acquisition of New Jersey-based Barr Pharmaceuticals. The deal closed on Tuesday [December 23].

These developments will lead to significant cost savings over time. FYI, the 2009 OPM AHIP carrier conference has been scheduled for March 16 – 17 at the Capital Hilton here in Washington, DC.