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What We’re Reading: Intensive Obesity Counseling for Children; Amazon Pharmacy Expands to Medicare Patients; Antiobesity Drug Price Pressure

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The US Preventive Services Task Force recommends that kids 6 years and older with a high body mass index receive intensive behavioral interventions; Amazon’s pharmacy unit is expanding eligibility for RxPass to patients enrolled in Medicare insurance plans; Sen Bernie Sanders (I, Vermont) is trying to lower the prices of popular antiobesity drugs.

US Preventive Services Task Force Recommends Intensive Counseling for Children With Obesity

The US Preventive Services Task Force recommends that kids aged 6 years and older with a high body mass index receive intensive behavioral interventions, according to NPR. This replaces its prior recommendations from 2017 that simply advise primary care providers to screen children for obesity. Task Force Chair Wanda Nicholson, MD, MPH, MBA, noted that evidence shows that having children with obesity undergo behavioral counseling interventions for at least 26 hours can help them achieve a healthy weight and improve their quality of life. Behavioral interventions involve education on healthy eating habits, counseling on weight-related behavioral changes, and supervised exercise sessions. Conversely, the recommendations do not include prescribing antiobesity drugs as there is not enough research yet to assess their value in this age group.

Amazon Pharmacy Offers $5 Monthly Subscription to Medicare Patients

Amazon’s pharmacy unit announced Tuesday that it is expanding eligibility for RxPass, its monthly subscription service that covers a range of generic drugs, to patients enrolled in Medicare insurance plans, according to Reuters. With this expansion, Amazon noted that over 50 million more people will be eligible for RxPass, which was launched for $5 a month in January 2023 for US Amazon Prime members. This subscription gives patients access to 60 eligible generic medications, 24/7 access to a pharmacist, and free doorstep treatment deliveries for Prime members. Through RxPass, Amazon Pharmacy offers up to 80% off generic drug costs and up to 40% off brand-name medicines for subscribers with or without insurance. Amazon explained that RxPass could help lower out-of-pocket costs for older adults and reduce Medicare spending by about $2 billion annually.

Sanders Hopes Pressure Will Lower Antiobesity Drug Prices

Sen Bernie Sanders (I, Vermont) is trying to lower the prices of popular antiobesity drugs as he did for inhaler and insulin costs, according to Axios. Sanders, chair of the Senate Health Committee, is acting because the rising demand for drugs like semaglutide (Novo Nordisk’s Wegovy and Ozempic) could strain Medicare and patients’ wallets as drug manufacturers are unwilling to change list prices; Ozempic costs about $600 per month in the US compared with $59 in Germany. Consequently, Sanders announced that he will question Novo Nordisk CEO Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen later this summer during a Senate Health Committee hearing. He acknowledged that getting the company to agree to lower drug prices will not be easy, but being in the spotlight may make a difference; bringing attention to the issue may cause them to feel pressured to lower US drug prices.

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