Friday Factoids

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From Washington, DC

  • The Wall Street Journal reports
    • “Rep. Jim Jordan withdrew his bid to become House speaker Friday, after the fiery conservative lost a pair of public and private votes, sending divided House Republicans back to the starting line in their weekslong quest to elect a leader and pass urgent legislation. * * *
    • “Jordan’s departure from the race has swung the door open for broader competition. Already Republican Study Committee Chairman Kevin Hern (R., Okla.) and Rep. Pete Sessions (R., Texas) had announced interest in the job, while House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R., Minn.) was quickly endorsed by McCarthy. A handful of others also were considering bids.”
  • Healthcare Dive informs us,
    • “Sens. Kevin Cramer, D-N.D., and Angus King Jr., I-Maine, sent a letter to CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure on Thursday, asking the agency to withhold its controversial staffing mandate for long-term care facilities. 
    • “The CMS proposal issued last month would require nursing facilities, including veterans homes, to have at least one registered nurse on duty at all times and provide three hours of care per resident per day, with 0.55 hours coming from registered nurses. An analysis from KFF last month found 81% of nursing facilities nationwide would need to hire additional staff to meet the requirements.
    • “In the letter, the senators warned that many markets, including their home states, may not have enough nurses to meet requirements, which could cause some long-term care facilities to close and disrupt care for veterans.”
  • The American Hospital Association News announces,
    • “Oct. 28 is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, an opportunity for the public to safely dispose of unwanted or expired tablets, capsules, patches and other solid forms of prescription drugs. The Saturday event offers free and anonymous disposal of unneeded medications at almost 5,000 local drop-off locations nationwide. Over more than 10 years, the Drug Enforcement Administration event has collected 8,650 tons of old, unwanted or expired medications, including opioid and other drugs susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse. DEA offers posters and other materials to help hospitals and other partners promote the event in their community. Collection sites should be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. local time.”

From the public health front,

  • HealthDay tells us,
    • “Two servings of red meat a week raise your risk of type 2 diabetes by 62%, new research shows.
    • “The risk applies to both processed and unprocessed red meat. 
    • “Replacing one daily serving of red meat with nuts, legumes or dairy can significantly reduce diabetes risk, researchers say.”
  • The Wall Street Journal reports,
    • “A potential blockbuster weight-loss drug still years away from U.S. regulatory approval is already being sold online, another example of a thriving gray market for unapproved weight-loss medications, according to a Wall Street Journal review.
    • “The Journal found hundreds of merchants offering the new drug, which is being developed by Eli Lilly and is called retatrutide. Most appear to be Chinese sellers shipping directly to U.S. consumers from sites such as Some of the sites, including ones that appear to be based in the U.S., have marketed their products via posts on  Facebook, LinkedIn and Reddit. A handful have run paid ads on Instagram and Google. A fitness influencer has offered it for sale via his newsletter.  * * *
    • “In a statement, the FDA said it would continue to investigate reports of suspect counterfeit drugs to determine the public health risks and the appropriate regulatory response. 
    • Excitement over retatrutide jumped in June when Lilly reported Phase 2 trial results that showed the drug led to an average weight loss of up to 24% over 48 weeks. That could prove better than Lilly’s already-approved drug Mounjaro. Researchers in a Lilly-funded study showed that tirzepatide, Mounjaro’s active ingredient, is the most effective medication currently being prescribed for weight loss.”  
  • The Journal adds
    • “Much of the focus has understandably been on obesity drugs’ sticker price—more than $10,000 annually—and how their usage by millions of Americans could create a budgetary crisis. 
    • “But an analysis by the American Enterprise Institute shows that the net price—what the manufacturers get—is much lower.
    • “The discount for GLP-1 drugs such as Wegovy, Ozempic, Mounjaro and Rybelsus ranged from 48% to 79%, according to the study. Ozempic, for example, is listed at $936 a month, but the manufacturer received $290 on average. Interestingly, Wegovy, currently the only one of those drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration for obesity, had the smallest discount.
    • “Once Eli Lilly’s Mounjaro, which is approved for diabetes but frequently prescribed off-label for weight loss, gets an expected FDA nod for obesity this year, “competition for formulary placement will likely put downward pressure on net prices for those indications in that scenario,” wrote the authors of the analysis.”
  • The FEHBlog continues to believe that the prices should be lower.

From the U.S healthcare business front.

  • Per Fierce Healthcare,
    • “It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that employers are putting a focus on managing healthcare costs in the coming year. And a new analysis from WTW highlights some of the areas in which they’re aiming to address these expenses.
    • “The consultancy surveyed 457 employers representing 7.3 million workers in June and July, and it found that 62% of firms are planning to roll out programs to address cost and mental health as part of a broader strategy around health and wellness.
    • “More than two-thirds of companies (69%) said they’ll be focusing on costs, and 63% said they’ll be addressing mental health care, according to the report.
    • “Regina Ihrke, senior director for health and benefits at WTW, told Fierce Healthcare that while employers are highly concerned about potential healthcare costs increases, they’re trying to strike a balance between managing those costs and designing a benefits package that draws in and retains top talent.”
  • and
    • Ilant Health, a new virtual provider targeting obesity treatment, has launched out of stealth with $3 million in funding. 
    • “Founded on the belief that obesity care will only transform healthcare if it is part of the system, Ilant plans to partner with employers and payers. The startup is led by Elina Onitskansky, who previously served as senior vice president and head of strategy at Molina Healthcare.”
  • Mhealth intelligence considers whether retailers have the inside track on virtual care and identifies technologies that support payer claim processing systems.