Mid-week update

The OPM Director appeared before a closed session of the House Intelligence Committee last night to discuss the data breach.  A Democratic Congressman spoke with the Hill about the session here.

Arstechnica.com has a very detailed and interesting article about the scope and likely causes of the breach. The simple fact of the matter is that the Chinese government backed hackers linked to the Anthem, Premera, and OPM hacks currently have an advantage over our defenses.  The arstechnica.com article discusses this problem.  The FEHBlog does think that the best solution now under development is an encryption solution that preserves the searchability of the data. However, the country needs to improve its hacking defenses. Easier said than done.

The American Medical Association installed its new president this week. Dr. Steven A. Stack is an emergency room doctor from Tennessee. Dr. Stack, who is 43 years old, is the AMA’s youngest president.  The FEHBlog heard Dr. Stack speak at a WEDI conference last fall, and he was very impressed. Take 6.28 minutes to watch this Modern Healthcare interview of Dr. Stack. He explains that the AMA’s goals are to improve outcomes in diabetes and hypertension, bring medical education into the current century, and restore joy to the practice of medicine. Good luck, Dr. Stack.

A Food and Drug Administration Advisory Committee this week is reviewing the marketing applications for a new and of course expensive speciality drug designed to reduce cholesterol levels when statins don’t work.  The Wall Street Journal explains that

This new class of medicines is often called PCSK9-inhibitors, because they block a protein called PCSK9, which interferes with the liver’s ability to clear so-called bad cholesterol from the bloodstream. That cholesterol, called LDL, is linked to cardiac disease, albeit imperfectly.

The Journal reports that the advisory committee recommended that the FDA approve Sanofi’s marketing application for a limited class of patients.  The committee takes up an Amgen marketing application today.

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