What We're Reading: CVS Reports Drug Spending Slowed Significantly

What we're reading, February 23, 2016: drug spending for CVS health plans slowed from 11.8% to 5%; CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, talks Zika virus; and an investigation into the HealthCare.gov launch found widespread mismanagement.

Drug spending growth slowed from 11.8% in 2014 to 5% in 2015, according to CVS Health Corp. In an interview with Bloomberg Business, the company’s chief medical officer, Troyen Brennan, explained that the company kept costs down through discount negotiations and restrictions on some high-priced drugs. As a result, even though more patients were using expensive hepatitis C drugs, spending on these treatments was roughly flat over the course of the year.

In a conversation with Time, CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, explained that researchers continue to see a strong connection between the Zika virus and microcephaly, but no definitive proof yet. In addition, he added that the CDC expects to see hundreds, if not thousands, of travel-associated Zika cases in the US. There are already 84 travel-associated reported cases, plus more than 2 dozen locally transmitted cases reported in Puerto Rico and more cases in the US Virgin Islands and American Samoa.

A 2-year inquiry into the failings of the HealthCare.gov launch found that federal officials received 18 warnings that the project was mismanaged and never considered postponing the launch. An outside consultant gave 11 reviews that included a list of risks citing inadequate planning for capacity and deviations from usual information technology standards, reported The Washington Post.