Weekend Update

The FEHBlog is back from the Outer Banks after a relaxing week in the sun.  Here’s a picture of the FEHBlog with his family and friends before leaving the rental this morning.  The FEHBlog is on the left, front row, wearing the Nationals hat. If you are looking closely at the picture and scratching your head, the FEHBlog and Mrs. FEHBlog built their family through Korean adoption.  

Congress is in session on Capitol Hill for one more week. Here is a link to last week’s developments as reported by the Week in Congress.

It’s also noteworthy that on Friday, the interim OPM Director Beth Cobert published her first Director’s Blog entry which concerns the data breach.

Also on Friday, the Food and Drug Administration approved for marketing the first PCSK9 inhibitor, a new blockbuster specialty (meaning expensive) drug which is expected to be an advance over statins. The Washington Post explains

[B}ecause PCSK9 drugs are so new, there are no definitive answers yet about whether their cholesterol-lowering effects actually will translate into fewer heart attacks, strokes and other heart problems. Over the next couple years, studies already underway should begin to give a clearer picture about such long-term outcomes.

For now, that lack of data is partly why the FDA approved Praluent — developed through a partnership between drug companies Sanofi and Regeneron — only for a limited set of patients. The agency said the drug could be used for people with heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia, an inherited disorder that can severely elevate LDL levels [bad cholesterol], as well as for patients who have had heart attacks and other serious cardiovascular problems and still cannot reach target LDL levels through the use of statins. 

Later in the summer, the FDA is expected to approve a second PCSK9 drug developed by Amgen; that drug already was approved by European regulators earlier this week. Global pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has yet another PCSK9 drug in the pipeline. 

U.S. News and World Report issued its 2015 list of best hospitals last week. While the FEHBlog is getting weary of these ranking, he did sit up and take notice when he saw that the U.S. News ranks hospitals by category of illness treated which is interesting.

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