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HEALTH CARE NEWS

US Congress extends CHIP, funds opioid crisis response following temporary shutdown

Publish date: February 9, 2018

By 

Gregory Twachtman 

Oncology Practice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Congress, despite a second shutdown in less than a month, was able to pass a number of financial extenders to fund key health care programs.

The bipartisan spending bill (H.R. 1892), passed in the early morning hours on Feb. 9 by a 71-28 vote in the Senate (16 Republicans and 12 Democrats voted against it, and Sen. John McCain [R-Ariz.] was not present) and a 240-186 vote in the House (67 Republicans and 119 Democrats voted against and 5 representatives did not vote). President Trump signed the bill later that morning.

 

The spending bill and continuing resolution to fund the government through March 23 includes $6 billion to fund treatment for opioid addiction and other mental health issues, $2 billion in additional funding for the National Institutes of Health, and 4 additional years of funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program. The additional CHIP funding extends the program for a total of 10 years.

The funding bill also made a technical correction to the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) track of the Medicare Quality Payment Program. It removes Part B drug reimbursement from the MIPS payment adjustment, so any positive or negative change to physician payments based on the MIPS score will only be applied to physician fee schedule payments.

The bill also repeals the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a panel created by the Affordable Care Act that would have the power to slash Medicare spending under certain budget circumstances. That board was never convened.

The funding legislation also accelerates closure of the Medicare Part D “donut hole,” the coverage gap in which beneficiaries must pay 100% of medication costs prior to entering catastrophic coverage.

Just over $7 billion was provided for community health centers and Medicare’s therapy caps were repealed.

While the funding bill was written in the Senate with bipartisan input and received bipartisan support, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) held up votes over objections to the more than $1 trillion it will add to the nation’s debt, as well as for the fact that there was no opportunity to introduce and vote on amendments, leading to an hours-long government shutdown.

There also were concerns about two issues that could have derailed the vote in the House. Democrats wanted to add language to address immigrants brought to this nation illegally as children, while some Republicans did not want to increase the federal debt. However, there were enough votes to pass the funding legislation.

gtwachtman@frontlinemedcom.com

Congress Extends CHIP, Funds Opiod Crisis Response Following Temporary Shutdown

Drotumdi O

 

Publish date: February 9, 2018

By 

Gregory Twachtman 

Oncology Practice

 

Ibuprofen appears safe with preeclampsia, study says

Publish date: February 3, 2018

By 

Michele G. Sullivan 

Ob.Gyn. News

Vitals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

REPORTING FROM THE PREGNANCY MEETING

DALLAS – Compared to acetaminophen, ibuprofen does not prolong the time needed to control postpartum hypertension in women who experience preeclampsia with severe features, Nathan Blue MD, reported at the Pregnancy Meeting, sponsored by the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine.

Ibuprofen did not exacerbate postpartum hypertension, as some studies have suggested, and women randomized to it for postpartum pain control reached their target blood pressure at a mean of 35 hours after delivery, similar to the 38 hours needed among women receiving acetaminophen.

Dr. Blue’s findings contradict the recommendation by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists to avoid the use of ibuprofen and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for pain control in women who experience preeclampsia or other hypertensive disorders of pregnancy.

“While our study was not meant to answer all questions about the potential problems of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories [in this population], I would conclude from these results that providers and patients can make a decision together and feel good about the use of NSAIDs,” in the presence of postpartum hypertension, said Dr. Blue, a fellow at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.

Michele G. Sullivan/Frontline Medical News

Dr. Nathan Blue

The chronic use of these medications has been associated with hypertension in non-pregnant adults, Dr. Blue said. The mechanisms are not completely clear, but are hypothesized to include an inhibition of prostaglandin-dependent vasodilation; inhibition of aldosterone metabolism, leading to sodium retention; and an increase in arachidonic acid vasoactive metabolites via induction of the CYP450 pathway.

These concerns led ACOG to issue its recommendation in 2013 against the use of NSAIDs in pregnant women with hypertension.

“This is problematic, because NSAIDs are particularly well-suited to address obstetric pain,” Dr. Blue said at the meeting. “They have been shown to be better than acetaminophen for perineal injury and they are associated with a reduced use of opioids after cesarean section.”

To investigate the effect of ibuprofen on postpartum hypertension, Dr. Blue and his colleagues conducted a double-blind randomized controlled trial of 100 women with preeclampsia with severe features. The study population also included women who had chronic hypertension complicated by preeclampsia with severe features, and women with HELLP syndrome – a constellation of hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelet count.

Women were randomized to either 600 mg ibuprofen or 650 mg acetaminophen every 6 hours, around the clock, with the first dose delivered within 6 hours of delivery. All patients received at least eight doses of their assigned medication. The primary endpoint was the time required to achieve blood pressure control. “We defined blood pressure control as the number of hours from delivery to the last reading of at least 160/110 mm Hg before discharge,” Dr. Blue said. “Our rationale here was that persistence of a blood pressure of that level would require a delay in discharge of at least 24 hours.”

The study had a number of secondary outcomes, including time from delivery to last blood pressure reading of at least 150/100 mm Hg; postpartum mean arterial pressure; any blood pressure reading of 160/110 mm Hg or higher; need for antihypertensive drugs at discharge; prolongation of hospital stay due to hypertension; and the need for postpartum opioids.

There was a 6-week follow-up assessment, at which time women reported any continued antihypertensive or opioid use, obstetrical triage visits after discharge, and hospital readmission.

The study cohort was well-balanced at baseline. Women were a mean of 30 years old; about a third were nulliparous, and half had a vaginal delivery. Chronic hypertension requiring medication was present in about 15%. The maximum blood pressure before delivery was about 180/107.

There was no significant difference between the ibuprofen group and the acetaminophen group in the primary endpoint of time to blood pressure of 160/110 mm Hg or below (35.3 vs. 38 hours). Nor were there significant differences in any of the secondary endpoints, including time to achieve a blood pressure of less than 150/100 mm Hg (58 vs. 57 hours), postpartum mean arterial pressure, maximum systolic and diastolic blood pressures, or the number of women who needed a short-acting antihypertensive (30 vs. 26) and who went home on an antihypertensive (33 vs. 31).

There were also no significant between-group differences in opioid use, either on postpartum days 0, 1, or 2. The total morphine equivalent dose for each group was likewise not significantly different (77 vs. 88 mg).

Dr. Blue was able to contact 77 women at 6 weeks’ postpartum. He found that 6-week outcomes were also similar. There were no significant differences in the number who required continuing antihypertensive or opioids, no difference in obstetric triage visits, and no difference in hospital readmission.

“Our study does not support the hypothesis that NSAIDs adversely affect blood pressure control in patients with preeclampsia,” he said. “Not only did we not find a difference in the primary outcome, we found not even a suggestion of difference in any measure of blood pressure control.”

The University of New Mexico sponsored the study. Dr. Blue reported having no financial disclosures.

I

CONFERENCE COVERAGE

‘Real-world evidence’ used to compare agents for relapsing-remitting MS

Publish date: February 7, 2018

By 

Doug Brunk 

Clinical Neurology News

Vitals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

REPORTING FROM ACTRIMS FORUM 2018

SAN DIEGO – Delayed-release dimethyl fumarate did not show any differences versus fingolimod in relapse rate over a 1-year, “real-world” study of patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, but a significantly greater proportion of patients taking delayed-release dimethyl fumarate achieved relapse-free status and a lower annualized relapsed rate, compared with patients on glatiramer acetate

“There is a need for real-world data that compares the effectiveness of the growing number of MS [multiple sclerosis] treatment options,” Christophe Hotermans, MD, vice president of Global Medical Therapeutic Areas at Boston-based Biogen, said in an interview during ACTRIMS Forum 2018, held by the Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis. “These results were consistent with previous analyses of efficacy of these treatments in people with relapsing-remitting MS, which showed no significant differences in efficacy between delayed-release dimethyl fumarate [DMF, Tecfidera] versus fingolimod [FTY, Gilenya] and greater efficacy with dimethyl fumarate, compared with glatiramer acetate [GA].”

The findings come from EFFECT (Observational Study to Characterize Real-world Clinical Outcomes With Relapsing-remitting Multiple Sclerosis), a multicenter, international, retrospective, single-time-point medical record review study comparing the effectiveness of DMF vs. other disease-modifying therapies, including FTY and GA in patients with relapsing-remitting MS.

 

Endpoints included the Kaplan-Meier estimated proportion of patients who relapsed at 12 months and annualized relapse rate. Baseline covariates were used in estimating propensity scores. The data were divided into four strata using quartiles of propensity scores. After assessing for balance in baseline covariates between the treatment groups, Kaplan-Meier estimates of relapse and estimates of treatment effects were pooled across the four strata.

At the meeting, Jinny Min, PharmD, a medical postdoctoral research fellow at Biogen, reported results from 816 DMF patients, 781 FTY patients, and 1,042 GA patients. In the trimmed analysis set, the estimated proportion of DMF and FTY patients who relapsed at 12 months after treatment initiation was 12% vs. 13%, respectively (hazard ratio, 1.07, P = .693; the adjusted rate ratio for annualized relapse was 1.09, P = .617). In the analysis of DMF vs. GA patients, the estimated proportion of DMF patients that relapsed at 12 months was 12% vs. 21%, respectively (HR, 0.71), which represented a significant decrease of 29% (P less than .02). The adjusted rate ratio for annualized relapse was 0.69, representing a significant decrease of 31% (P less than .01).

“We hope that these data help health care providers and people living with MS as they consider their treatment options,” Dr. Hotermans said. “The limitations of this study are similar to those that would be present in other retrospective studies that utilize real-world data. However, we worked to mitigate many of those limitations through a propensity-score estimation approach to adjust for confounders. An additional limitation that is inherent to the study design (retrospective chart review) is that patients’ medical history, MS disease, treatment history, and relapse history were limited to the information available in the medical records.”

The study was supported by Biogen, which ma

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Congress, despite a second shutdown in less than a month, was able to pass a number of financial extenders to fund key health care programs.

The bipartisan spending bill (H.R. 1892), passed in the early morning hours on Feb. 9 by a 71-28 vote in the Senate (16 Republicans and 12 Democrats voted against it, and Sen. John McCain [R-Ariz.] was not present) and a 240-186 vote in the House (67 Republicans and 119 Democrats voted against and 5 representatives did not vote). President Trump signed the bill later that morning.

 

The spending bill and continuing resolution to fund the government through March 23 includes $6 billion to fund treatment for opioid addiction and other mental health issues, $2 billion in additional funding for the National Institutes of Health, and 4 additional years of funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program. The additional CHIP funding extends the program for a total of 10 years.

The funding bill also made a technical correction to the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) track of the Medicare Quality Payment Program. It removes Part B drug reimbursement from the MIPS payment adjustment, so any positive or negative change to physician payments based on the MIPS score will only be applied to physician fee schedule payments.

The bill also repeals the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a panel created by the Affordable Care Act that would have the power to slash Medicare spending under certain budget circumstances. That board was never convened.

The funding legislation also accelerates closure of the Medicare Part D “donut hole,” the coverage gap in which beneficiaries must pay 100% of medication costs prior to entering catastrophic coverage.

Just over $7 billion was provided for community health centers and Medicare’s therapy caps were repealed.

While the funding bill was written in the Senate with bipartisan input and received bipartisan support, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) held up votes over objections to the more than $1 trillion it will add to the nation’s debt, as well as for the fact that there was no opportunity to introduce and vote on amendments, leading to an hours-long government shutdown.

There also were concerns about two issues that could have derailed the vote in the House. Democrats wanted to add language to address immigrants brought to this nation illegally as children, while some Republicans did not want to increase the federal debt. However, there were enough votes to pass the funding legislation.