This week, the top managed care stories included responses to the disaster in Houston after Hurricane Harvey; the approval of the first gene therapy in the United States; and a new cardiovascular indication for a popular drug to treat type 2 diabetes.
The healthcare system responds to Hurricane Harvey, FDA approves this country’s first CAR-T cell therapy, and a popular drug for type 2 diabetes gets a new indication.
Welcome to This Week in Managed Care, I’m Laura Joszt.
Responding to Hurricane Harvey
Hurricane Harvey slammed into the Texas coastline late Friday and dumped 52 inches of rain over Houston in four days, creating what appears to be the most expensive natural disaster in American history. The storm forced healthcare giants like MD Anderson Cancer Center and Baylor College of Medicine to temporarily close.
HHS Secretary Tom Price, MD, declared a public health emergency in Texas, easing some documentation requirements for Medicare patients, and Texas insurance regulators called on payers to lift restrictions so patients could be treated out-of-network without the need for prior authorization.
Nurses Answer the Call
This week, Texas hospitals used social media to recruit nurses from around the country to travel to Houston to volunteer in hospitals in the flood zone.
AJMC®’s Christina Mattina spoke with members of the New Jersey Nurses’ Association who left Thursday for Bay Area Regional Medical Center, in Webster, Texas, to treat the injured and offer relief to nurses who have been working around the clock.
First Gene Therapy Approved
FDA this week approved the first gene therapy in the United States. The CAR-T cell therapy will be sold by Novartis to treat B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
The treatment re-engineers a patient’s own white blood cells to attack the tumor cells, and offers a customized approach for patients with few other options.
Said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, “We’re entering a new frontier in medical innovation with the ability to reprogram a patient’s own cells to attack a deadly cancer. New technologies such as gene and cell therapies hold out the potential to transform medicine and create an inflection point in our ability to treat and even cure many intractable illnesses.”
CV Indication for Diabetes Drug
The type 2 diabetes therapy liraglutide gained a new indication last week when FDA approved the drug, sold by Novo Nordisk as Victoza, for reducing the risk of heart attack, stroke, and cardiovascular death in adults who have type 2 diabetes and known cardiovascular disease.
Liraglutide, which is also sold in a higher dose to treat obesity, is only the second diabetes drug and the first GLP-1 receptor agonist to receive a cardiovascular indication. The first drug to receive the indication was the SGLT2 inhibitor empagliflozin, but the approval for liraglutide is broader, covering both the prevention of cardiovascular events and death.
COMPASS Trial Results Presented
Finally, results presented at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) last weekend included findings from the COMPASS trial, which found that rivaroxaban plus aspirin has significant benefits for patients with stable coronary artery disease or peripheral artery disease.
The benefits support using both drugs in low doses in combination, according to results that were also published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Check out the full coverage of the ESC meeting from Barcelona Spain.
For all of us from the Managed Markets New Network, I’m Laura Joszt. Thanks for joining us.