From the alcohol abuse front, MedPage Today tells us
One out of every eight deaths in Americans ages 20 to 64 resulted from drinking too much alcohol, according to a U.S. population-based study.
Nationally, 12.9% of total deaths per year among adults in this age group were attributed to excessive alcohol consumption from 2015 to 2019, and that number rose to 20.3% of total deaths per year when restricted to people ages 20 to 49, reported Marissa Esser, PhD, MPH, of the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues.
Alcohol-attributed deaths ranged from 9.3% in Mississippi to 21.7% in New Mexico and were more common among men than women (15% vs 9.4%), the authors wrote in JAMA Network Open.
That is startling.
From the unusual viruses front, Beckers Hospital Review explains
Wastewater testing has found polioviruses genetically tied to a case that left an unvaccinated Rockland County, N.Y., resident paralyzed this summer in at least five of the state’s counties, according to a new CDC report.
The report, published Oct. 28, is based on wastewater testing from samples collected from March 9 through Oct. 11 from 28 sewersheds serving parts of Rockland County and 12 other counties. Eighty-nine samples, or 8.3 percent of 1,076 samples collected, tested positive for poliovirus type 2. Of those, 82 were linked to the virus isolated from the Rockland County patient who was left paralyzed
“Although most persons in the United States are sufficiently immunized, unvaccinated or undervaccinated persons living or working in Kings, Orange, Queens, Rockland, or Sullivan counties, New York should complete the polio vaccination series to prevent additional paralytic cases and curtail transmission,” the CDC report said.
CDC officials recently told CNBC they are considering the use of a novel oral polio vaccine not used in 20 years to halt the outbreak.
From the opioid epidemic front, Healthcare Dive informs us
CVS Health agreed on Wednesday to pay $5 billion to settle almost all opioid-related lawsuits and claims the company been battling over the past decade that alleged it mishandled prescriptions of the painkillers.
If the deal is finalized, CVS will pay $4.9 billion to states and political entities such as counties and cities, and $130 million to U.S. tribes.
The payments, which depend partially on the number of government entities that agree to join the settlement, will be spread out over the next 10 years beginning in 2023.
Cities, counties and states have filed more than 3,000 lawsuits against drugmakers, distributors and pharmacies for their role in perpetrating the opioid epidemic in the U.S. According to government data, three-fourths of the 92,000 drug overdose deaths in 2020 involved an opioid.
Walgreens and Walmart also have reached deals to settle opioid-related claims, Reuters reported, citing people familiar with the matter. Walgreens will pay $5.7 billion over 15 years and Walmart will pay $3.1 billion, mostly up front, according to the report.
If the settlements from the three companies, which are the largest retail pharmacies in the U.S., become final, it may end much of the yearslong litigation over opioids. Cases still are pending against smaller pharmacies such as Rite Aid.
The deals follow some victories for plaintiffs against the chains.
In related healthcare business news, Beckers Hospital Review reports
CVS Health raised its annual earnings outlook after beating investor expectations in the third quarter, but the company reported $3.4 billion in losses after agreeing to pay into a global opioid lawsuit settlement starting next year.
The $5 billion settlement will be paid out over 10 years and “substantially resolve all opioid lawsuits and claims against the company by states, political subdivisions, such as counties and cities, and tribes in the United States,” the company said in its Nov. 2 earnings report.
The company’s third quarter EPS is $2.09 and $6.71 for 2022. It also raised its full year guidance and expects adjusted EPS to rise from a range of $8.40-$8.60 to $8.55-$8.65.
“We delivered another outstanding quarter, and have raised full-year guidance as a result. We continue to execute on our strategy with a focus on expanding capabilities in health care delivery, and the announced acquisition of Signify Health will further strengthen our engagement with consumers,” President and CEO Karen Lynch said.
Humana reported $1.2 billion in profits during the third quarter and is expecting major increases in Medicare Advantage membership, according to the company’s Nov. 2 earnings report.
The company reported $22.8 billion in third quarter revenues, increasing 10.2 percent from $20.7 billion year over year. Total revenues in 2022 are $70.4 billion
The company expects an annual adjusted EPS guidance of $25 and raised its 2022 earnings outlook to $91.6 billion – $93.2 billion.
Healthcare Dive adds
Los Angeles-based Heal, a provider of primary care through house calls, telemedicine visits and remote patient monitoring, said it has partnered with Cigna Medicare Advantage plans in four states as it continues its national expansion.
The organization is now an in-network provider for Cigna MA enrollees in Illinois, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, effective immediately, it said. Its markets also include Louisiana, New Jersey, New York and Washington.
Heal works with Humana, WellCare, Aetna and UnitedHealthcare insurance plans, according to its website.
Fierce Healthcare relates
Nearly 334,000 physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and other clinicians left the workforce in 2021 due to retirement, burnout and pandemic-related stressors, according to new data [found in the Definitive Healthcare report]. * * *
Hospitals and health systems are spending more money to hire and retain healthcare workers, the report found. These facilities are increasing salaries, offering sign-on bonuses, and expanding benefits to lure in new workers. Hospitals nationwide spent a total of about $97.3 million on employees and physician salaries in 2020, compared with $82.7 million in 2016, according to data from the October 2021 Medicare Cost Report.
From the medical devices front, STAT News tells us
A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel suggested Tuesday that the agency improve how it regulates pulse oximeters, calling for clearer labeling and more rigorous testing of the devices. The widely used instruments monitor blood oxygen levels and have been shown to work less well on patients with darker skin, possibly exacerbating health disparities in many racial and ethnic groups.
Healthcare Dive points out
Optical sensor solution in fingertip monitors gives medical-grade accuracy of oxygen level measurement across skin tones and while in motion.
A patented SpO2 sensor chipset, integrated processing and reference design capability has uses in other wearable devices, according to BioIntelliSense.
The inability of many fingertip monitors to accurately read blood oxygen levels has caused people with darker skin to wait hours for supplemental oxygen and in some cases has caused deaths.
That’s good news for you.
Moreover, Health IT Analytics reports
A team of Yale University researchers has developed a machine learning (ML)-based clinical decision support tool to personalize recommendations for pursuing intensive or standard blood pressure treatment goals among individuals with and without diabetes.
The tool, described in a study published earlier this week in The Lancet Digital Health, is designed to facilitate shared decision-making between providers and patients with hypertension through a data-driven approach. Hypertension is defined as a sustained blood pressure greater than 140/90 mm Hg and is a leading cause of heart disease and mortality.
From the Rx coverage front, STAT News tells us
A blockbuster weight-loss medicine led to dramatic effects for adolescents diagnosed with obesity, a result that will likely widen the use of an in-demand drug — and fan a debate over whether someone’s body weight should be treated as a disease.
The drug, a weekly injection called semaglutide, led to a 17% reduction in body mass index compared to placebo in a study of about 200 people between the ages of 12 and 18. On average, adolescents treated with semaglutide lost 34 pounds, or 15% of their body weight, over the course of the 68-week study, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday. Those on placebo gained an average of five pounds, or 3% of their baseline weight.
The trial’s relatively small size and short duration leave outstanding questions about whether semaglutide’s side effects, which include nausea and rare cases of gallstones, will lead to long-term problems, said Julie Ingelfinger, a pediatric nephrologist at Massachusetts General Hospital who was not involved in the study. But the results suggest semaglutide, sold by the Danish drug company Novo Nordisk, could be a powerful tool for adolescents unable to lose weight through diet and exercise.
From the post Dobbs front, the New York Times surveys the landscape and finds increasing use of telemedicine services, such as Aid Access, to obtain abortion pills.