Weekend Update

Congress will be out of town this coming week.  Here is a link to the Week in Congress’s report on last week’s activities on Capitol Hill. 

The Washington Post yesterday put on its front page an article headlined “Hospital discharge: It’s one of the most dangerous periods for patients.” This is not news. The FEHBlog is certain that hospitalized patients do better — during and after hospitalization — if they have active support from family and friends. Patients without that support likely stay in the hospital longer and are readmitted more frequently.  The question is how to provide better support for these unsupported patients. Perhaps telehealth will help.

Bloomberg reports that the large prescription benefits manager Express Script is focusing attention on overcoming “Valenant style” drug price hikes.

Customers, such as employers or insurance plans, that sign up for the new program will give Express Scripts advance permission to try to shift patients to cheaper alternative medicines when an old drug jumps suddenly in price, [Express Scripts Chief Medical Officer Steve] Miller said. Express Scripts also will be able to steer patients away from pharmacies that the benefit manager judges are working with a drugmaker to push an expensive treatment or circumvent rules designed to encourage use of cheaper treatments.

Good luck with that.

Meanwhile the Wall Street Journal reports that

Despite a growing outcry over the rising cost of cancer treatments, drugmakers are placing multibillion-dollar bets on new [cancer] medicines they expect will command premium prices and generate big sales.
France’s Sanofi SA said Thursday it made an unsolicited, $9.3 billion offer to purchase San Francisco-based Medivation Inc., which sells a prostate-cancer drug that recently drew criticism from members of Congress over its price tag. It is Sanofi’s latest effort to expand its cancer-treatment business as sales of its older drugs decline. Medivation’s board was scheduled to meet Thursday to review the offer.
Separately, AbbVie Inc. of North Chicago, Ill., agreed to pay $5.8 billion to acquire a privately held cancer-drug developer, Stemcentrx Inc., of South San Francisco, Calif., continuing AbbVie’s aggressive push to build an oncology business. Stemcentrx’s investors include a venture-capital fund founded by Peter Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal Holdings Inc. and an early investor in Facebook Inc. 

Rur roh.