Monday Roundup

Monday Roundup

Photo by Sven Read on Unsplash

From the Federal Employee Benefits Open Season front, the FEHBlog has noticed that OPM expanded the number of FEHB and FEDVIP public use files available on its website. “The purpose of the OPM FEHB and FEDVIP Plan and Benefits Information (PBI) Public Use Files (PUFs) is to provide information to the public on FEHB and FEDVIP plans, including information on rates and benefits.” Check it out.

The FEHBlog also has noticed that many FEHB plans promptly posted Open Season information on their websites. In particular, the three largest FEHB carriers, Blue Cross FEP, GEHA, and Kaiser Permanente have done so. That’s a heavy, yet helpful, lift so kudos to the carriers.

From the public health front

  • The New York Times brings us up to date on the polio vaccination campaign in New York State.

The specter of polio becoming endemic in America again was once unthinkable. But as state public health officials embark on an urgent campaign to get more people vaccinated, the low rates among preschoolers in some pockets are evidence of both the challenges they face and the threat to the state’s youngest children — the very age group among whom polio is most likely to spread.

This gap stems from the fact that the polio vaccine is required for school admission.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers has proposed legislation to help create drugs that can fight drug-resistant pathogens as the treatments for life-threatening problems from respiratory infections to sepsis stop working.

But a classic end-of-year congressional quagmire — a tight calendar, a heated election season, fights over spending, and inertia — threatens to stymie progress before the end of the year.

Fingers crossed for passage in the lame duck session.

  • The National Institutes of Health released its monthly NIH News in Health, which is worth a click.

From the U.S. healthcare business front —

  • Fierce Healthcare relates “Francisco Partners, an investment firm, signed a definitive agreement to acquire bSwift from CVS Health.” The acquistion agreement is expected to close by year end and “bSwift will continue to partner with CVS Health and its subsidiary Aetna, an insurance provider, by sharing benefits solutions with its employees and clients.”

From the telehealth front, we have another positive survey report from mHealth Intelligence. “ccording to new research findings from the JD Power 2022 US Telehealth Satisfaction Study, telehealth has become more than a temporary replacement for in-person care due to high consumer preference and its role in expanding access to mental health treatment.”

From the Monday miscellany front —

  • BioPharma Dive identifies five Food and Drug Administration decisions to watch out for this quarter. “The regulator could soon approve medicines from Apellis, Gilead and GSK, as well as decide on whether to pull a controversial preterm birth drug from the market.”
  • The Office of National Coordinator for Health Information Technology issued eight information blocking regulatory reminders for October 6, the end of the phase in period for that rule.
  • Medscape reports on an HHS Office of Inspector General report criticizing the efficiency of the FDA’s accelerated drug approval program.

In granting accelerated approvals, the FDA sets timelines for drugmakers to carry out confirmatory trials. But these target dates are often missed. OIG staff evaluated 104 cases of accelerated approvals for which confirmatory trials have not been completed and found that as of May 5, 2022, 35 drug studies had missed their original target completion dates. * * *

In its report, the OIG staff offered a deep look at the four drugs in which confirmatory trials were furthest past their original completion deadlines:

* Mafenide acetate (Sulfamylon), a topical antimicrobial treatment for burns that was approved in 1998. The trial is 140 months past its original deadline.

* Midodrine hydrochloride (Proamatine), a treatment for postural hypotension that was approved in 1996. The trial is 85 months past its original deadline.

* Pralatrexate (Folotyn), a treatment for T-cell lymphoma that was approved in 2009. The trial is 72 months past its original deadline.

Hydroxyprogesterone caproate (Makena), a drug to reduce risk of preterm birth that was approved in 2011. The trial is 64 months past its original deadline.