Managed Care e-News
Jun. 5, 2012

High-deductible insurance plans become more common
The Washington Post
High-deductible health plans, once deemed a last-resort, "catastrophic" alternative for those with few resources, have gone Fortune 500. Seventy percent of large companies recently surveyed by consultant Towers Watson said they'll offer high-deductible insurance by 2013 combined with accounts that let patients buy medical services with pretax dollars, often funded by the employer.More

New federal grants for aging, disability resource centers
The Department of Health and Human Services has announced a $25 million grant to help states improve and develop more Aging and Disability Resource Centers, which help low-income adults remain in their communities by using local home healthcare services. The centers are part of a national effort to help more frail elders and those with mental and physical handicaps maintain their independence, while reducing the cost per person of Medicaid long-term care.More

Counterfeiters exploit shortage to market fake Adderall pills
A shortage of Adderall began in 2011, sending millions of people with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy on perpetual wild goose chases to find drugstores with the pills they need to stay alert and focused. So it's not surprising that Adderall counterfeiters have seized a big marketing opportunity. What is surprising is their clumsiness.More

US on track to approve more cancer drugs in 2012
Cancer drug applications at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are rising, with 20 submissions expected this year, as a better understanding of the molecular makeup of the disease leads to new treatments. Some of the novel techniques that are proving to be successful include targeting specific gene mutations in tumors and harnessing the body's own immune system to seek out and kill cancer cells.More

FDA asked to ban pesticide in head lice
MedPage Today
Massachusetts Rep. Edward Markey has called on the FDA to ban the pesticide lindane as a treatment for head lice in children. Lindane is sold as Kwell shampoo and its generic versions. In a letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, Markey pointed out that the EPA banned the pesticide — which has been linked with side effects from skin irritations to seizures — from agricultural use in 2006.More

Bone medication, esophageal cancers linked
MedPage Today
The esophageal cancer risk with bisphosphonate bone drugs may be a bigger problem than thought, particularly with use of alendronate, an adverse event surveillance study suggested. Overall, 128 cases of bisphosphonate-associated esophageal cancer were reported to the FDA's adverse event reporting system from 1995 through 2010, Northwestern University researchers found.More

Does working the night shift cause breast cancer?
The Week
Women who work at night are at a much greater risk of developing breast cancer, according to a new study by Danish researchers in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine. The findings have raised new alarm bells about shift work, which the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer has listed as a "probably carcinogenic" activity.More

New York plans to ban sale of big sizes of sugary drinks
The New York Times
New York City plans to enact a far-reaching ban on the sale of large sodas and other sugary drinks at restaurants, movie theaters and street carts, in the most ambitious effort yet by Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration to combat rising obesity. More

High blood sugar may make pneumonia deadlier
HealthDay News
Elevated blood sugar levels may help predict death in pneumonia patients, researchers say. The new study included nearly 6,900 patients, average age 60, with community-acquired pneumonia who were admitted to hospitals and private practices in Austria, Germany and Switzerland between 2003 and 2009.More

Narcotic painkiller use booming among elderly
MedPage Today
Increasingly, opioids have been prescribed for chronic pain, an area where their safety and effectiveness is unproven, especially for older patients. This increased use of opioids for noncancer pain prompted the FDA to convene a two-day public hearing to investigate "available data on the efficacy of analgesics in the treatment of chronic noncancer pain."More

Genes make difference if quitting smoking
United Press International
Genetics can predict success of smoking cessation and whether a person is likely to respond to drugs for nicotine addiction, U.S. researchers say. The research focused on specific variations in a cluster of nicotinic receptor genes, CHRNA5-CHRNA3-CHRNB4, which prior studies have shown contribute to nicotine dependence and heavy smoking.More

Gene therapy gains versus cancer
The Wall Street Journal
New data from studies of two GlaxoSmithKline drugs add to the growing body of evidence that targeting tumors based on genetic abnormalities that drive their growth can improve prospects for patients. Studies looking at the use of the drugs trametinib and dabrafenib in patients with advanced melanoma were scheduled to be presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology's annual meeting.More

Feds seek to reduce disparities in childhood asthma rates
Kaiser Health News
Federal public health officials announced a new interagency task force designed to eliminate the racial and ethnic gap among children suffering from asthma. The Departments of Agriculture, Justice and Transportation — as well as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Health and Human Services — are teaming up to combat the respiratory disease in minority communities.More

More questions on antidepressants during pregnancy
When moms-to-be use antidepressants, their babies may be more likely to be born early or have a seizure soon after birth, a large U.S. study suggests. The findings, reported in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, add to evidence linking antidepressants to certain pregnancy risks — including preterm birth and smaller size at birth.More