Cream or sugar?

The good news is if it’s going in a cup of joe you’re reducing your risk of liver cancer. And the more the better! A new study by the Universities of Southampton and Edinburgh show the more coffee you drink the greater the reduction in risk of developing HCC, the most common form of primary liver cancer, which also happens to be the second leading cause of cancer death globally. So, go ahead and splurge at the coffee pot tomorrow. According to the findings, increasing coffee consumption by two cups a day was associated with a 35% reduction, and when compared to those that don’t drink coffee, five cups may halve the risk. For the decaf drinkers (by the way, what’s the point?), it’s beneficial, too. Here’s to chocolate and coffee tomorrow.

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Civil War: healthcare edition

The formula for rising healthcare costs in the US is filled with a bunch of pointed fingers lately. One finger is being pointed at drug maker Kaléo (no, not that Kaleo) by pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts. They’re suing Kaléo over its price hikes on a heroin/painkiller overdose treatment. According to Express Scripts, these hikes triggered price protection rebates owed to Express Scripts, which total around $14 million—most of the lawsuit. The PBM has successfully sued larger drug companies like Horizon, so Kaléo may be at a bit of a disadvantage here. Especially since Express Scripts could use the extra cash to deal with the fingers pointed at it, including one $15B lawsuit by its (soon-to-be former) largest customer, the insurance provider Anthem.

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You can teach an old drug new tricks

Here at InsightCity we have a saying, “don’t get sick.” Why? Well, aside from medical errors as a leading cause of death in the US, you could pick up antibiotic resistant bacteria while receiving care in a medical environment. There is good news for the ~2 million Americans who catch one of these resistant strains each year (not always at hospitals!). An old antibiotic that’s been around since the 1950s, vancomycin, has been retooled to deliver a trinity of fatal blows to bacteria that have become antibiotic resistant—including strains impervious to the original vancomycin. Each of the three tweaks is capable of bactericide alone, combined it’s one killer antibiotic.  Thank you, scientists, Akinori Okano, Nicholas Isley and Dale Boger!

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I’m just a bill

Drug pricing is hot. Want proof? According to The New York Times, there are six major drug pricing bills under consideration. For those who require it, here’s a refresher on the U.S. legislative process. Two of the proposed bills focus on the approval of generic medications. One would require pharma companies to give notice before price increases. Another would allow U.S. citizens to import cheaper drugs from other countries. Two others would require PBMs to disclose rebate levels and increase transparency. Additionally, President Trump is asking why the government does not negotiate prices it pays for Medicare. Net-net: there are lots of spaghetti strands being thrown at the drug pricing refrigerator, let’s see what sticks.

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The State of Ohio vs. Drug Giants

Like this guy, Ohio is not happy with a handful of drug-makers. On Wednesday, the state filed a lawsuit stating the drug-makers “helped unleash a health care crisis that has had far-reaching financial, social, and deadly consequences in the State of Ohio.” The targets of the lawsuit are Purdue Pharma, Endo Health Solutions, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Johnson & Johnson, and Allergan. The reason behind the lawsuit, according to the office of state Attorney General Mike Dewine, is that “the drug companies engaged in fraudulent marketing regarding the risks and benefits of prescription opioids which fueled Ohio’s opioid epidemic.” Lawsuits including this one could shape up similarly to those that hit tobacco companies in the 90’s, which saw states win settlements of over $200 billion.

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