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What We're Reading: BMS Settles HIV Drug Lawsuit; COVID-19 Breathalyzer Test; HSAs, Health Inequities


Bristol Myers Squibb settles lawsuit on conspiring to block generic competition to HIV drugs; FDA grants emergency use authorization to a novel breath test that can detect COVID-19 within 3 minutes; health savings accounts (HSAs) are being used less effectively by minority and low-income populations.

BMS Settles Lawsuit Alleging Anticompetitive Deals on HIV Drugs

STAT is reporting that Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) has agreed to pay up to $11 million to settle a lawsuit stating several drugmakers conspired to block generic competition to HIV drugs. The lawsuit, which also named Gilead Sciences and Johnson & Johnson, claimed that the companies undertook a “no-generic” scheme involving fixed-dose combinations of different HIV drugs that kept prices for these medications high. After 3 years of legal proceedings, the settlement will effectively open the door to generic combinations, such as atazanavir and cobicistat (Evotaz), in the treatment of HIV.

FDA Authorizes COVID-19 Breathalyzer Test

FDA granted emergency use authorization to a novel breath test that can detect COVID-19 within 3 minutes by using gas chromatography and gas mass-spectrometry to detect 5 compounds typically exhaled when people are infected with the virus. CBS News is reporting that the InspectIR COVID-19 Breathalyzer was shown in a study to identify 91.2% of positive COVID-19 cases among an overall cohort of 2409 people with and without symptoms, with false positives occuring in 0.7% of participants. The test will only be available for tests by a qualified and trained operator under the supervision of a health care provider.

Research Suggests Health Savings Accounts May Fuel Health Inequities

Findings of a study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute indicate that health savings accounts (HSAs), which are designed to be a tax-advantaged way for households with high-deductible health plans to save for out-of-pocket medical expenses, may be exacerbating existing health inequities among minority and low-income populations, who are using the accounts less effectively. Compared with men, higher earners, and White and Asian savers, CNBC is reporting that Black and Hispanic beneficiaries, as well as women and low-income individuals, were found to not take full advantage of the tax benefits that HSAs offer by contributing less money, having smaller balances, and investing funds less often.

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