What We're Reading: Employers Cut Back on Wellness Programs

What we're reading, June 20, 2016: employers are cutting back on wellness benefits; new apps and websites provide birth control prescriptions to women; and Novartis pledges to triple the number of biosimilar drugs on the market by 2020.

Employer enthusiasm for some wellness benefits is waning. A new survey found that employers are beginning to analyze data on their return on investment and employee participation and are cutting back, reported The Wall Street Journal. For example, last year, nearly half of employers offered health coaching compared with 37% this year. Other benefits that have declined over the last year include on-site flu shots, 24-hours nurse hot lines, and insurance-premium discounts for weight loss.

Technology is giving women the opportunity to skip the doctor’s office in order to get prescription contraceptives. In addition to being more convenient, public health officials hope that the availability of new apps and websites offering this service will encourage more women to use contraception and reduce America’s rate of unintended pregnancies and abortions, according to The New York Times. These new services have grown through word of mouth and so far slipped under the political radar. Women simply have to answer questions about their health online or by video and clinicians will provide prescriptions.

Novartis is expecting to vastly expand its biosimilar presence. According to Reuters, the company has pledge to triple the number of biosimilar drugs on the market by 2020, hoping to be selling 8 biosimilars. The generics unit of Novartis expects versions of Humira, Enbrel, Neulasta, Remicade, and Rituxan to hit the market over the next 4 years.