This Week in Managed Care: July 25, 2015

This week Bristol-Myers Squibb's phase 3 nivolumab study ended early because renal cell carcinoma patients were experiencing significantly better overall survival, the American Society of Clinical Oncology called for the inclusion of more geriatric patients in trials, and Medicaid expansion states are finding more people enrolling than they planned.

The top story this week didn't break in time to for the filming of This Week in Managed Care. Anthem announced that it purchase Cigna for $54 billion, which, following the Aetna and Humana merger, will shrink the US health insurance market from 5 big insurers to just 3. In addition, the FDA approved the first PCSK9 inhibitor. The cholesterol-fighting alirocumab was among the most-anticipated FDA approvals of the year, as formulary managers await pricing for a drug some fear could eventually push out low-cost statins.

This week cancer stole many of the headlines. First, Bristol-Myers Squibb ended it's phase 3 nivolumab study because renal cell carcinoma patients receiving the drug experienced a significantly better overall survival compared with the control. Then, the American Society of Clinical Oncology called for the inclusion of more geriatric patients in clinical trials.

CMS announced it will test a program that allows patients with life-limiting illnesses access to both hospice and curative care concurrently instead of choosing between the 2. The program could help up to 150,000 patients with cancer, HIV, congestive heart failure, and other diseases.

Finally, Medicaid expansion is proving more successful than expected. States that chose to expand the program are finding out that more people are signing up than planned, which may prove costly in 2017 when states start to pay 10% of the cost of expansion.