What We're Reading: Drug Pricing Debate; Judge Rules Against Walgreens; Predicting TBI Outcomes

Policy observers and industry stakeholders debate the possible spillover effects of Medicare drug pricing reform in the employer-based insurance market; a California federal judge rules Walgreens could be held liable for not investigating suspicious orders of opioids in San Francisco; a blood test performed the day of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) can predict which patients may die and who may survive with a disability.

What Effect Will Medicare Drug Pricing Reform Have on the Private Market?

Experts disagree on what effect Medicare drug pricing reform will have on the private employer market. According to Roll Call, some payers and employer groups are concerned that the insulin cap for Medicare beneficiaries and HHS' price negotiating power in the Inflation Reduction Act, which passed the Senate earlier this week and is expected to pass the House of Representatives, will cause drugmakers to make up lost revenue in the job-based insurance market. Others disagree, saying that would mean pharmaceutical companies are choosing to bypass profits now.

Federal Judge Rules for San Francisco in Opioid Case Against Walgreens

A US District Court judge in California ruled that Walgreens could be held liable for the opioid crisis in San Francisco by distributing hundreds of thousands of “suspicious orders” of the prescription pain killers, The Los Angeles Times reported. Walgreens did not probe orders deemed “suspicious,” according to Judge Charles Breyer. The ruling in the public nuisance lawsuit, filed by the city in 2018, means the company could face a nonjury trial on the extent of its financial liability. More than 100 million prescription opioid pills were dispensed by Walgreens in the city between 2006 and 2020.

Blood Test on Day of TBI Provides Prognosis on Severity, Study Finds

A blood test perfromed the day of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) can predict which patients may die and who may survive, albeit with severe disability, according to research published in Lancet Neurology and reported by STAT. The rapid assay looks for 2 protein biomarkers—GFAP and UCH-L1. Diagnostic tests to detect the biomarkers are already approved by the FDA to evaluate whether patients with mild TBI should have CT scans. The latest research shows that the tests are also prognostic. While the study had some limitations and cannot predict a partial recovery, the results could help guide conversations with families or help providers make resource decisions.