What We're Reading: Employee Sleep Improvements; Republican Supports Medicare Drug Price Negotiations; Sepsis Death Toll

January 17, 2020
AJMC Staff

Along with weight loss, exercise, and nutrition, employers now target sleep improvements in employees; a Republican member of the FTC supports Medicare drug price negotiations; sepsis is likely responsible for 20% of deaths worldwide.

Employers Target Sleep Improvement to Lower Medical Costs

Employers are focusing on improvements in workers’ sleep as a way to reduce company medical costs and improve employee health, according to Kaiser Health News. This new area of focus comes after wellness issues like weight loss, exercise, and nutrition were targeted by employers in the past. One company included in the article, Southern Co, has screened around 4000 of its 30,000 employees for sleep apnea in the past 3 years and saw a $1.2-million reduction in medical costs in 2018. One in 4 large employers offer programs to assist workers in improving sleep, the article reports, but the long-term effects remain unknown.

Republican FTC Member Supports Medicare Drug Price Negotiations

Christine Wilson, the Republican commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) appointed by President Trump, expressed her support for Medicare negotiations on drug prices, The Hill reports. Speaking at a health care conference in Washington, DC, Wilson broke ranks from her Republican colleagues, who have historically opposed the notion. “I think part of the problem is that the federal government has not been able to negotiate under certain parts of Medicare and Medicaid for pharmaceutical prices,” Wilson said. Democrats passed a bill in the House in December addressing the issue, but the President and Senate Republicans rejected it.

Sepsis Likely Responsible for 20% of Deaths Worldwide

A recent study published in Lancet lists sepsis, sometimes called blood poisoning, as a major contributor to deaths around the world. The disease arises when a body overreacts to an infection, which can lead to multiple-organ failure, NPR reports. About 270,000 deaths occur as a result of the disease in the United States each year, but the global death rate has dropped by about half since 1990. The study analyzed more than 100 million death certificates between 1990 and 2007 and concluded that sepsis is twice as common as previously thought. In 2017, researchers determined 11 million people worldwide died from the disease out of 56 million deaths.