How to Take Care of Your Eyes as You Age: be aware of GMC: Glaucoma, Macular degeneration, Cataract
FromConsumer Reports:GlaucomaMore than 2 million Americans have glaucoma, but 50% know it. Glaucoma often goes undiagnosed because it causes no symptoms until vision declines, at which point treatment no longer helps.People aged 40-60 should be examined by an optometrist every 3-5 years; those older than 60 need an eye exam every 1-2 years.Many eye doctors screen for glaucoma with tonometry (measures eye pressure) but that ’s not enough. Relying only on intraocular pressure (IOP) when screening for glaucoma could miss up to 50% of all cases. Theexam should also include an ophthalmoscopy, which involves examining your...
Source: Clinical Cases and Images - Blog - October 2, 2019 Category: Universities & Medical Training Tags: Ophthalmology Source Type: blogs

Should Senator Menendez resign?
Just to make sure you know I'm not a blind partisan -- which I hope has been obvious --Sen. Menendez of New Jersey is unworthy of his office. First let me back up a second to point out that conservative complaints about people defrauding public benefits programs are always about welfare queens in Cadillacs. In fact the main offenders are physicians.This particular schtickdreck, ophthalmologist Salomon Melden, has been convicted of defrauding Medicare of $190 million. You read that correctly. Along the way, he became BFF with Sen. Menendez, to whose campaigns he contributed $1 million (pocket change to him) and to whom he g...
Source: Stayin' Alive - May 5, 2017 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Updated Medicare and Medicaid Drug Spending Data Released
On November 15, 2016, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released updated Medicare and Medicaid drug spending data, to include information for calendar year (CY) 2015 through its online interactive dashboards for Medicare and Medicaid. The inclusion of the Medicaid drug spending data on the public dashboard is new this year, as is the addition of high-level (aggregated) Medicare drug rebate data. CMS noted that “there is significant growth in spending on prescription drugs, representing a significant burden.” In CY 2015, total prescription drug costs amounted to roughly $457 billion – a...
Source: Policy and Medicine - December 15, 2016 Category: American Health Authors: Thomas Sullivan - Policy & Medicine Writing Staff Source Type: blogs

New Study on Physician-Industry Relationships, This Time Focused on Ophthalmologists
This study, published by JAMA Ophthalmology, compared the use of anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) intravitreal injections by United States ophthalmologists to industry payments those same physicians received. Once again, the authors behind the study acknowledged that “Although the data can’t confirm a cause and effect, [they] found a positive association between reported pharmaceutical payments and increased use of drugs prescribed to treat problems of the retina.” This study reviewed data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) 2013 Medicare Provider Utilization and Paym...
Source: Policy and Medicine - September 7, 2016 Category: American Health Authors: Thomas Sullivan - Policy & Medicine Writing Staff Source Type: blogs

Saving billions of dollars in health care: The story of Avastin and Lucentis
I sometimes worry that my wife Paula won’t be able to see me grow old. Not that I expect to outlive her. She is four years my junior and has the blood pressure of a 17-year-old track star. It’s her eyesight I’m worried about, because she is at risk for a form of blindness called macular degeneration. Paula is the youngest in a long line of redheads, several of whom have been diagnosed with this illness. Her fair-haired grandmother developed macular degeneration and was eventually unable to see her bridge hand and had to give up her golf game, just when she was threatening to score below her age. Fortunate...
Source: Kevin, M.D. - Medical Weblog - July 18, 2016 Category: Journals (General) Authors: Tags: Meds Medications Source Type: blogs

A Controversial New Demonstration In Medicare: Potential Implications For Physician-Administered Drugs
According to an August 2015 survey, 72 percent of Americans find drug costs unreasonable, with 83 percent believing that the federal government should be able to negotiate prices for Medicare. Recently, Acting Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Andy Slavitt commented that spending on medicines increased 13 percent in 2014 while health care spending growth overall was only 5 percent, the highest rate of drug spending growth since 2001. Some of the most expensive drugs are covered under Medicare’s medical benefit, Part B, because they are administered by a physician. They are often ad...
Source: Health Affairs Blog - May 3, 2016 Category: Health Management Authors: Kavita Patel and Caitlin Brandt Tags: Costs and Spending Featured Medicare Payment Policy Quality Avastin CMMI Lucentis Medicare Part B oncology care model prescription drug coverage Source Type: blogs

We want access to safe and effective Avastin. Here’s a solution.
Recently, two states in India halted all use of Avastin for the treatment of eye disease following the report of 15 patients who underwent emergency surgery for potentially blinding infections at the C.H. Nagri Municipal Eye Hospital in Ahmedabad.  Though further investigations are ongoing, there is worry that the cluster of infections centered around a tainted lot of compounded Avastin. This most recent event serves as a reminder of the risk that we take every time we inject Avastin into our patients eye. Recent cluster infections have led to greater oversight:  A good thing. In the U.S., great measures hav...
Source: Kevin, M.D. - Medical Weblog - February 15, 2016 Category: Journals (General) Authors: Tags: Conditions Medications Surgery Source Type: blogs

EFPIA Files Complaint Against French Law Promoting Off-Label Avastin Use
Earlier this week, EFPIA, Europe's pharmaceutical industry association, announced it had filed a complaint with the European Commission against the French “RTU Regime.” promoting the use of Roche's cancer drug Avastin for the off-label treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The decree allows the French medicines regulator (ANSM) to issue a temporary authorization for use of a product in an unauthorized indication, purely for economic purposes, notwithstanding the existence of an authorized alternative treatment. This development is troubling and contravenes European Community law and jurisprud...
Source: Policy and Medicine - September 3, 2015 Category: American Health Authors: Thomas Sullivan Source Type: blogs

How Open Data Can Reveal—And Correct—The Faults In Our Health System
We examined sites of service for non-complex office visits across gastroenterology, cardiology, and oncology — three specialties that tend to deliver care across a range of sites. Medicare reimbursement is higher for hospital visits as compared to those in a physician office. Overall, we found that most doctors bill regular, level 3 evaluation and management visits in non-hospital settings. Oncologists have the highest percentage billed in hospital-type facilities — 15 percent of non-complex office visits. In this case, we were limited in our analysis because the dataset does not include the additional amount t...
Source: Health Affairs Blog - February 18, 2015 Category: Health Management Authors: Kavita Patel, Domitilla Masi, and Caitlin Brandt Tags: All Categories Big Data Health Care Costs Medicaid Medicare Payment Policy Research Spending Source Type: blogs

EFPIA Disapproves of French Off-Label Initiative
On July 8, 2014, the French National Assembly voted a draft law proposal that would potentially allow healthcare professionals to prescribe off-label drugs, even if there is an approved drug available for treatment. The draft law specifically references Avastin, a Roche cancer drug, as an alternative eye treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration, an indication for which the drug is not approved and for which two authorized alternatives exist. EFPIA, the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations, harshly criticized the proposal. Richard Bergström, EFPIA Director General, said: "A ...
Source: Policy and Medicine - July 17, 2014 Category: American Health Authors: Thomas Sullivan Source Type: blogs

Novartis and Roche fined over 180 mn euros by anti-trust
Italy's Antitrust authority said Wednesday that it had fined Swiss pharmaceutical companies Novartis and Roche a total of over 180 million euros for alleged collusion to manipulate the market in Italy."The two companies made an illegal agreement to hamper the spread of the use of a very cheap pharmaceutical, (Roche's) Avastin, in the treatment of the most widespread eye pathology among the elderly and other serious eye diseases, to favour a much more expensive product, (Novartis's) Lucentis, artificially differentiating the two products," read an Antitrust statement. It added that this had cost the Italian nation...
Source: PharmaGossip - March 5, 2014 Category: Pharma Commentators Authors: insider Source Type: blogs

Literally gouging
In conclusion, we found no evidence of increased risks of mortality, myocardial infarction, bleeding, or stroke,” their research paper said.The other danger to using Avastin, however, has attracted a lot of publicity in recent years.The fact that the drug needs to be repackaged into smaller doses introduces an element of risk because it opens the possibility that the drug could be tainted during the repackaging process. (Genentech says because the FDA has not approved it for use in the eye, the company cannot legally distribute Avastin in doses appropriate for the eye.Indeed, in three cases that made the news —...
Source: PharmaGossip - December 16, 2013 Category: Pharma Commentators Authors: insider Source Type: blogs

A Fading Vertex Drug Was Also Fastest To Become A Blockbuster
How is this for irony? The same week that Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX) cuts 15 percent of its workforce due to plunging sales of its Incivek treatment for hepatitis C, the drug has been identified as having achieved blockbuster status faster than any other medicine. Incivek was launched in 2011, by the way, and surpassed Celebrex, which is sold by Pfizer (PFE) but was launched in 1999 by Pharmacia. The analysis was conducted by EvaluatePharma which reviewed quarterly US products sales and aggregated the first four full quarters after each drug launch in the region. Only five drugs have ever achieved blockbuster status in ...
Source: Pharmalot - October 31, 2013 Category: Pharma Commentators Authors: esilverman Source Type: blogs

Pharmalot... Pharmalittle... The Weekend Nears
And so, yet another working week is drawing to a close. As you know, this is our treasured signal to daydream about weekend plans, although we are getting a headstart because, once again, we are rolling up the sidewalks early in order to enjoy another use-it-or-lose-it vacation day. In any event, our agenda is interesting, starting off with a birthday celebration for our shortest of short people, a book signing by a friend and a fresh installment in our 'Let's-see-them-before-they-die' concert series. But what about you? Anything special planned? How about catching up with old friends? Or shopping for a cozy autumn sweater...
Source: Pharmalot - October 25, 2013 Category: Pharma Commentators Authors: esilverman Source Type: blogs

A Thaw Between Roche And Novartis? What About A Merger?
Will Roche and Novartis work more closely together and even consider a merger? Now that both drugmakers have new chairmen – replacing a pair who had famously icy relations – there is increasing talk about cooperation and that, in turn, is leading to speculation that a merger could even occur. In fact, a Novartis board member earlier this month suggested such a deal might make sense. Earlier this month, you may recall, Roche named Lufthansa ceo Christoph Franz, who is also one of its board members, to succeed Franz Humer as chairman, a move that came only a few weeks after Jorg Reinhardt replaced the controversi...
Source: Pharmalot - September 30, 2013 Category: Pharma Commentators Authors: esilverman Source Type: blogs

Rerun: Happy 7th birthday to the Health Business Blog
The Health Business Blog is on vacation  and re-running some classic posts. This one is from March 2012, the seventh birthday of the Health Business Blog. The Health Business Blog turns seven years old today. Continuing a tradition I established with birthdays one, two, three, four, five and six, I have picked out a favorite post from each month. Thanks for continuing to read the blog! March 2011: Why you shouldn’t feel good about paying a low price for wet AMD treatment Repackaging Avastin seems like a harmless, clever  trick to save thousands on Lucentis. But now th...
Source: Health Business Blog - August 27, 2013 Category: Health Managers Authors: dewe67 Tags: Announcements Blogs Source Type: blogs

Rerun: Happy 3rd birthday to the Health Business Blog
The Health Business Blog is on vacation this week and re-running some classic posts. This one is from March 2008, the third birthday of the Health Business Blog. —– The Health Business Blog is three years old, with close to 1700 posts and counting. For the first and second birthdays I picked out my favorite post by month, and I’m continuing that tradition today. March 2007: Eye-popping generic pricing disparities Retail prices for a 30 day supply of generic Zocor (simvastatin) ranged from $6.97 at Sam’s Club to $131.99 at Rite Aid. Can you imagine seeing price different...
Source: Health Business Blog - August 20, 2013 Category: Health Managers Authors: dewe67 Tags: Announcements Blogs Source Type: blogs

Rich pharma companies, poor patients.
Pharmaceutical companies are getting rich on the backs of their patients. Don't believe me? Here's some proof.First we have an article from New Jersey on how Roche's profits are up 10% and its revenues are up 4% on profits from its breast cancer drugs. The company is now focusing on cancer drugs and hopes to find more high profit drugs as generics come available for drugs such as Herceptin.  By the way, their cancer drugs cost between $70,000 and $100,000+ annually per patient.If you ask a pharma company you get the standard lines: 'no one pays those prices', 'they are covered by insurance', 'we do have programs for t...
Source: Caroline's Breast Cancer Blog - July 28, 2013 Category: Cancer Tags: patient rights medication costs Source Type: blogs

Pharmalot... Pharmalittle... The Weekend Nears
Once again, another working week is about to draw to a close. And not a moment too soon. After a long week of high temperatures, we are ready to daydream about weekend plans. In fact, we are getting a head start, since we are rolling in the sidewalks this morning in order to take a few hours off to spend with Mrs. Pharmalot and one or more short people. We are also looking forward to catching up on some reading, puttering around the official Pharmalot grounds and socializing with other humans. And what about you? Perhaps the great outdoors are beckoning or this is an opportunity to reach out to someone special. You could a...
Source: Pharmalot - July 19, 2013 Category: Pharma Commentators Authors: esilverman Source Type: blogs

NHS could save £84m using cheaper drug to prevent blindness, trial finds
Researchers say Avastin is just as good as more-expensive Lucentis for treating wet age-related macular degenerationAn image of an eye with wet AMD, the most common cause of blindness, diagnosed in 23,000 people in the UK every year. Photograph: Queen's University Belfast/PASarah Boseley, health editorThe NHS could save more than £84m a year if it used a cheap, unlicensed drug to treat people in danger of going blind rather than the expensive one currently licensed and promoted by leading pharmaceutical companies for the purpose, a ground-breaking trial has shown.Researchers led by Prof Usha Chakravarthy from Queen's...
Source: PharmaGossip - July 19, 2013 Category: Pharma Commentators Authors: insider Source Type: blogs

FDA Warns Genentech Trial Investigator Over Data Problems
An investigator for a Phase III trial for the Lucentis macular degeneration treatment, which is sold by Genentech, has received a warning letter from the FDA for failing to follow the protocol and maintain accurate case histories of patients. And his omissions and mistakes raised concerns about the “validity, reliability and integrity of the data” that was captured at his site, according to the FDA letter. The physician, Bernard Doft, participated in the HARBOR study that compared low and high dose versions of Lucentis among patients with the eye affliction, which is a common affliction among the elderly (here ...
Source: Pharmalot - July 16, 2013 Category: Pharma Commentators Authors: esilverman Source Type: blogs

Ophthalmologists Balk At Senate Compounding Bill Over Avastin Restrictions
As the US Senate considers legislation to toughen oversight of compounding pharmacies, one group of physicians is lobbying the Senate to create an exception for biologics. The American Academy of Ophthalmology is concerned about a provision in the Senate bill that requires patients to have specific prescriptions for each medicine that is ordered from a compounding pharmacy (here is the bill). The language is designed to prevent compounding pharmacies from expanding into large-scale production, which is what the New England Compounding Center had been doing before producing medicines that led to a nationwide outbreak of fun...
Source: Pharmalot - May 22, 2013 Category: Pharma Commentators Authors: esilverman Source Type: blogs

Lucentis multi-dosing? Reader comment
A reader made an interesting comment on an old post, so I’m highlighting it here in the hopes that more might see it. Anyone heard about this? “Has Genenetch looked into the practice of retinal specialists multi-dosing Lucentis, i.e., administering up to 4 doses, from a single use vial? Some providers argue that, since each vial contains 5 doses, they can do this by drawing out the doses into multiple injection needles (other the one injection needle that Genetech supplies in the package). It seems that there is a danger here for microbial infection, and also some concern about the provider lowering there actua...
Source: Health Business Blog - April 22, 2013 Category: Health Managers Authors: David E. Williams of the Health business blog Tags: Pharma Source Type: blogs

Happy 8th birthday to the Health Business Blog!
The Health Business Blog turns eight years old today. Continuing a tradition I established with birthdays one, two, three, four, five, six, and seven I have picked out a favorite post from each month. Thanks for continuing to read the blog! March 2012: Should medical debt count against your credit rating? As far as I’m concerned, a lot of medical debt isn’t real debt. Real debt is borrowing money from a bank to buy a car or using a credit card to finance a vacation or taking out a student loan to pay for college. Borrowers know ahead of time that they are incurring a financial obligatio...
Source: Health Business Blog - March 1, 2013 Category: Health Managers Authors: David E. Williams of the Health business blog Tags: Announcements Blogs Source Type: blogs

Italy Probes Roche & Novartis For Forming A ‘Cartel’
The latest chapter in the controversy over the use of over two Roche drugs for treating wet macular degeneration – Avastin and Lucentis – is being written in Italy, where antitrust regulators opened a probe into whether the drugmaker and Novartis, which markets one of the medicines in Europe, formed a cartel. Specifically, the Italian Competition authority is investigating whether the drugmakers may have struck an “illicit agreement” to exclude ophthalmic use of Avastin and favor the sales of Lucentis. Roche’s Genentech unit developed both drugs, although Lucentis is marketed in Europe by Nova...
Source: Pharmalot - February 20, 2013 Category: Pharma Commentators Authors: Ed Silverman Tags: Uncategorized Antitrust Avastin Lucentis Novartis Roche Wet Macular Degeneraiton Source Type: blogs

Age-related macular degeneration - 2012 Lancet review
From the The Lancet: Age-related macular degeneration is a major cause of blindness worldwide. With ageing populations in many countries, more than 20% might have the disorder. Advanced age-related macular degeneration is associated with progressive visual impairment. It includes two subtypes: - neovascular age-related macular degeneration (wet) - geographic atrophy (late dry) macular degeneration What are the risk factors for macular degeneration? Major risk factors include: - cigarette smoking - nutritional factors - cardiovascular diseases - genetic markers, including genes regulating complement, lipid, angiogeni...
Source: Clinical Cases and Images - Blog - January 7, 2013 Category: Professors and Educators Tags: Lancet Review Ophthalmology Source Type: blogs

Lucentis - Roche and NICE see eye to eye after a price cut
The extent of the price cut in Lucentis is unknown, as it is covered by a confidentiality agreement between pharma companies and the government. But Roche has confirmed that a new lower price will apply to the drug in both wet AMD and DMO. http://www.pharmafile.com/news/176562/new-price-and-data-changes-nice-view-lucentis? Anyone know the price cut? (Source: PharmaGossip)
Source: PharmaGossip - January 4, 2013 Category: Pharma Commentators Authors: insider Source Type: blogs

Pharmalot… Pharmalittle… Good Morning
Top of the morning to you. And a fine one it is, if a bit cold. But it is wintertime, so we are not surprised. Another thing that is unsurprising is the amount of goings-on now that the new year has sprung. So to celebrate – and to cope – we are brewing a delicious cup of stimulation and invite you to join us. After all, this may help tackle that to-do list. Meanwhile, here are some tidbits. Have a grand day and stay in touch… Merck CEO Sees More Consolidation (Wall Street Journal) Novartis Wins UK NICE OK For Lucentis After Price Cut (Bloomberg News) Merck Resubmits Combo Cholesterol Pill To FDA (Associ...
Source: Pharmalot - January 3, 2013 Category: Pharma Commentators Authors: Ed Silverman Tags: Uncategorized Abbvie ALS Amgen Aranesp Bayer Biogen Cholseterol Drug Shortages Lucentis Merck Novartis Salix Pharmacuetical Synergy Pharmaceutical Whistleblower Source Type: blogs