People on the Move

September 13, 2019

Priority Health to Buy Smaller Michigan Insurer

September 13, 2019

Priority Health said on Aug. 29 that it plans to acquire Detroit-based Total Health Care, Inc. Combined, the two health insurers would cover more than 905,000 enrollees, according to AIS’s Directory of Health Plans. Grand Rapids-based Priority Health is the second largest health insurer in the state after Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, with more than 810,000 covered lives.

by Jinghong Chen

Priority Health said on Aug. 29 that it plans to acquire Detroit-based Total Health Care, Inc. Combined, the two health insurers would cover more than 905,000 enrollees, according to AIS’s Directory of Health Plans. Grand Rapids-based Priority Health is the second largest health insurer in the state after Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, with more than 810,000 covered lives. If the deal is approved by state regulators, Priority Health will have a stronger presence in the state’s commercial and Medicaid HMO markets. Priority Health and Total Health Care are not the only Michigan-based insurers to strike a deal recently. In June, Health Alliance Plan said it intends to acquire TRUSTED Health Plan to expand its Medicaid footprint.

SOURCE: AIS’s Directory of Health Plans, as of September 2019.

Datapoint: Boehringer Ingelheim’s Ofev Scores New Indication

September 12, 2019

The FDA last week approved Boehringer Ingelheim’s Ofev for the treatment of systemic sclerosis-associated interstitial lung disease (SSc-ILD), the second indication for the drug, also known as Nintedanib. For the treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibriosis, Ofev currently holds preferred status for 4% of all covered lives, growing to 33% with prior authorization and/or step therapy.

The FDA last week approved Boehringer Ingelheim’s Ofev for the treatment of systemic sclerosis-associated interstitial lung disease (SSc-ILD), the second indication for the drug, also known as Nintedanib. For the treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibriosis, Ofev currently holds preferred status for 4% of all covered lives, growing to 33% with prior authorization and/or step therapy.

SOURCE: MMIT Analytics, as of 9/10/19

Carcinogens Have Infiltrated the Generic Drug Supply in the U.S.

September 12, 2019

The chemical N-Nitrosodimethylamine, or NDMA, is a yellow liquid that dissolves in water. It doesn’t have an odor or much of a taste. It’s known to cause cancer in animals and is classified as a probable carcinogen in humans—it’s most toxic to the liver. A single dose of less than a milligram can mutate mice cells and stimulate tumors, and 2 grams can kill a person in days. An Oklahoma man poisoned the family of an ex-girlfriend in 1978 by pouring a small vial of NDMA into a pitcher of lemonade. In 2018 a graduate student in Canada sickened a colleague by injecting the chemical into his apple pie.

The chemical N-Nitrosodimethylamine, or NDMA, is a yellow liquid that dissolves in water. It doesn’t have an odor or much of a taste. It’s known to cause cancer in animals and is classified as a probable carcinogen in humans—it’s most toxic to the liver. A single dose of less than a milligram can mutate mice cells and stimulate tumors, and 2 grams can kill a person in days. An Oklahoma man poisoned the family of an ex-girlfriend in 1978 by pouring a small vial of NDMA into a pitcher of lemonade. In 2018 a graduate student in Canada sickened a colleague by injecting the chemical into his apple pie.

NDMA no longer has industrial uses—it was once added to rocket fuel—but it can form during industrial processes at tanneries and foundries as well as at pesticide, dye, and tire makers. It can be found in drinking water disinfected with chloramine. It’s in tobacco smoke, which is one reason secondhand smoke is dangerous, and it’s what makes eating a lot of cured and grilled meat potentially risky. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says it’s reasonably safe to consume as much as one microgram—one millionth of a gram—of NDMA a day….

Read the full Bloomberg article

Why Aren’t There Better Cancer Drugs? Scientists May Have Picked the Wrong Targets

September 12, 2019

Twenty years ago, the fight against cancer seemed as if it were about to take a dramatic turn.

Traditionally, cancer doctors fought the disease with crude weapons, often simply poisoning fast-growing cells whether they were cancerous or healthy. But then a team of researchers hit on a new strategy: drugs targeting proteins produced by cancer cells that seemed necessary to their survival.

Twenty years ago, the fight against cancer seemed as if it were about to take a dramatic turn.

Traditionally, cancer doctors fought the disease with crude weapons, often simply poisoning fast-growing cells whether they were cancerous or healthy. But then a team of researchers hit on a new strategy: drugs targeting proteins produced by cancer cells that seemed necessary to their survival.

Once such drug, Gleevec, worked spectacularly in patients with chronic myeloid leukemia. But the clinical trials that followed mostly have produced disappointments. According to a study published earlier this year, only 3 percent of cancer drugs tested in clinical trials between 2000 and 2015 have been approved to treat patients.

A study published on Wednesday in the journal Science Translational Medicine offers one reason for the failure: Scientists are going after the wrong targets….

Read the full The New York Times article