As 2016 draws to a close, here’s a look at the top 5 news articles that captured reader interest on AJMC.com.
As 2016 draws to a close, here’s a look at the top 5 news articles that captured reader interest on AJMC.com. The topics themselves varied from drug approval news to the impact of alcohol on human behavior. In the new year, we will continue to update our audience on the latest and most relevant news in healthcare.
5. CheckMate-026 Fails in Phase 3—Nivolumab Monotherapy Does Not Improve PFS in NSCLC
One of the biggest shocks in the world of cancer immunotherapy was the report that nivolumab (Opdivo) had failed to improve progression-free survival when administered in treatment-naïve patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The trial, designed to evaluate the programmed death-1, or PD-1, inhibitor as a single agent in patients with NSCLC who expressed at least 5% of the protein programmed death ligand-1 (PD-L1), failed against comparator chemotherapy treatment arms that were chosen by the investigators.
Meanwhile, later in the year, nivolumab’s closest competitor, pembrolizumab (Keytruda), was approved by the FDA for the first-line treatment of NSCLC patients whose tumors express high levels of PD-L1.
4. Medicare to Fund Diabetes Prevention Programs, Burwell Says
A major policy change announced by HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell in March would have a huge impact on the nation’s population suffering from prediabetes. Expanding on a model funded by the CMS Innovation Center, Secretary Burwell announced that diabetes prevention programs will be covered by Medicare. The original demonstration project—the National Diabetes Prevention Program (NDPP)—was shown to significantly halt progression in those diagnosed with prediabetes. Healthcare providers were thrilled with this announcement.
“The AMA applauds HHS for moving toward authorizing coverage for the [NDPP] to Medicare beneficiaries at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes,” said Andrew W. Gurman, MD, president elect of the American medical Association.
The eligibility criteria for participation in the program, which is scheduled to begin January 1, 2018, were finalized by CMS in November.
3. Expensive Oral Agents Responsible for Cost Shifting in Cancer
The rising cost of oral anticancer agents from the year 2000 to 2014 is a significant barrier to patient access, according to a study published in JAMA Oncology. According to the analysis, the monthly cost of newly approved oral anticancer agents went up from about $1869 in 2000 to $11,325 in 2014; the price of older agents, too, increased over time. The study showed that although the drugs were covered by commercial health insurance plans, the cost burden shifted toward the patient in the form of higher deductibles and co-insurance.
2. Cleveland Clinic Data: Heart Attack Patients Getting Younger, Fatter
A Cleveland Clinic study found that increasingly younger patients are being treated for heart attacks or ST-elevated myocardial infarction. These patients, the study shows, are also more obese. The trend was observed after analyzing data gathered from 3900 patients between 1995 and 2014. Despite limitations, such as absence of socioeconomic data and insurance status, and the fact that the data were gathered from a single hospital, the study’s senior author, Samir Kapadia, MD, would like physicians to draw inspiration from these data and do more to promote prevention by recommending a healthier lifestyle, especially in the primary care setting.
1. Study Finds Alcohol Creates Effects of Fast-Acting Antidepressant
The connection between depression and alcohol abuse has finally been documented, although in a mouse model. A paper published in Nature Communications showed that alcohol produces the same effect as newer rapid-acting antidepressants—the effect of alcohol is quicker and can last longer. Ethanol, the authors showed, manipulated the expression of, and signaling by, GABABR—which is also observed with antidepressants. This, the authors explain, provides a biological reason for why people might “self-medicate” when depressed.