Coverage of Ozempic, Wegovy; eliminating hepatitis C, $100,000 bonsues for nurses
Ultra-expensive drugs for rare conditions have become the norm in U.S. healthcare. Ozempic and Wegovy are something of a throwback to the days when drugs that are merely expensive but for common conditions were the primary battleground for patients, providers and payers. The Journal has a piece today (behind a paywall) written from the patient and physician point of view. The newspaper reports that Diana Thiara, medical director of the University of California, San Francisco’s Medical Weight Management Clinic, tells doctors and patients to be as specific as possible in making their case for coverage. “If they say no, ask why,” she told the newspaper.
President Biden included an $11 billion proposal to eliminate hepatitis C in this 2024 budget plan. Whether the plan ever reifies beyond aspiration is far from certain. But if it does, the effort will need to meet the challenges of dealing with hepatitis C testing, diagnosis and treatment among people who inject drugs, argues Ronald Valdiserri, M.D., M.P.H., a professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University in Atlanta, in a Health Affairs Forefront blog post this morning (full text available).
“In truth, each subsequent step in the process from HCV antibody testing to confirmation of infection through treatment and cure (referred to as thetreatment cascade) can result in drop-offs along the way. While loss to care is not unique to the process of HCV diagnosis and treatment, effectively caring for PWID requires an awareness of the internal and external factors that can influence their willingness to both initiate and complete HCV treatment,” wrote Valdiserri, who is co-chair for HepVu, an online interactive resource that provides information about hepatitis and other viral hepatitides in the U.S. that is funded by Gilead Sciences.
It is not news that hospitals are scrambling to cope with staffing shortages, but Modern Healthcare has a piece this morning (behind a paywall) with some details about the lengths some hospitals are going to fill positions and cut back on the contract labor. For example, Palomar Health, in Escondido, California, has started offering nurses $100,000 in bonuses if they agree to stick with the system for three years, the magazine reported.
An FDA advisory committee voted 8-6 on Friday to recommend accelerated approval for Sarepta’s Duchenne muscular dystrophy gene therapy. The vote in favor of the therapy, currently known as SRP-9001 (delandistrogene moxeparvovec), occurred against a backdrop of a number of controversies about the therapy, reports of disagreement within the agency about whether it should be approved and broader conflicts about accelerated approvals and surrogate endpoints.
Here is our piece about the race to develop a gene therapy for Duchenne muscular dystrophy.