This Week in Managed Care: June 18, 2016

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This week, the top stories in managed care included study results presented at the 76th Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association from the SWITCH and LEADER trials, a recommendation for a smarter way to screen for prostate cancer, and researchers found physicians underutilize medications to treat opioid addiction.


Hello, I’m Cate Douglass with The American Journal of Managed Care. Welcome to This Week in Managed Care From the Managed Markets News Network.

Reporting From ADA

The type 2 diabetes therapy liraglutide cuts the risk of cardiovascular death by 22%, according to results presented this week at the American Diabetes Association (ADA) Scientific Sessions. Thousands gathered to hear the details of the LEADER trial, which began in 2010, and included more than 9300 patients in 32 countries.

The FDA requires cardiovascular safety trials for all new diabetes and obesity therapies to show they do not cause harm. But in the past year, two drugs—empagliflozin being the other—have been shown to to have benefits.

The study involved patients with diabetes at least 50 years old who had varying degrees of cardiovascular risk. After a minimum of 3 and a half years, those taking liraglutide had a 15 percent lower risk of death for any reason, and a 13 percent lower risk of cardiovascular complications.

ADA Tresiba Study Results

In other news from ADA, results from the SWITCH trial showed that patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes who used insulin degludec, which is sold as Tresiba, had lower rates of hypoglycemia than patients using insulin glargine.

Novo Nordisk, the maker of Tresiba, is expected to ask the FDA to update the label to reflect the findings. A combination therapy of Tresiba and liraglutide awaits FDA approval. AJMC asked Dr Todd Hobbs, chief medical officer at Novo Nordisk, how payers would respond to the SWITCH results:

Read all of our coverage from ADA.

Prostate Cancer Screening

Smarter screening of men for prostate cancer at midlife can identify those who need monitoring, according to a new study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. The 2012 recommendation against the PSA test from the US Preventive Services Task Force led to an outcry from urologists, who feared a rise in cancer deaths. Now, authors using data from the Physicians’ Health Study have come up with criteria that seems to be an extension of NCCN guidelines that followed the controversial 2012 recommendation.

The study sets benchmark PSA levels for men in their 40s, early 50s, and late 50s that are indicators of who needs close monitoring for cancer. Too frequent PSA testing has been associated with overtreatment for cancers that were not aggressive, with an increase in downstream costs.

Treating Opioid Addiction

Too few physicians are making use of medications that could help patients curb opioid addiction. Buprenorphine is approved to block drug cravings and stop withdrawal symptoms, but fewer than 4 percent of practicing physicians have the license to prescribe it.

According to Health Affairs, physicians with a new license can prescribe the drug to 25 patients the first year and 100 patients each year after that. However, more physicians must become certified to meet the demand, given the opioid epidemic.

Emerging Leader Award

There’s still time to make nominations for the Seema S. Sonnad Emerging Leader in Managed Care Research Award. The prize was established in 2015 during AJMC’s 20th anniversary to recognize a person whose early achievements in managed care show the potential to making a lasting contribution to the field.

The deadline for nominations is Monday, July 11. You can learn more by clicking here.

For all of us at the Managed Markets News Network, I’m Cate Douglass. Thanks for joining us.