What We're Reading: Free Drug Could Get Costly

What we're reading, December 25, 2015: a drug that is currently free could get very costly; this year's flu season is expected to be mild; and before they went on recess, members of Congress introduced a number of healthcare-related bills.

A drug that a small family-run company was giving away could end up being quite costly for patients if another company gets its way. The drug, which treats a rare neuromuscular disease, had never been formally approved by the FDA, and now Catalyst Pharmaceuticals has applied for FDA approval for a slightly modified version that could cost more than $100,000 per patient, reported The New York Times. Jacobus Pharmaceutical, the family-run company that had been giving away the drug for free, is also seeking approval.

This year’s flu season is off to a slow start, but experts expect it will peak in February. However, a model has predicted that this flu season will be mild, with fewer cases than a typical year. According to TODAY, the reason for this mild flu season prediction is the timing: flu seasons that peak earlier, in December, are more intense, while flu seasons that peak later tend to be milder.

Members of Senate and the House of Representatives introduced several pieces of healthcare legislation just before they went on recess until January 4, 2016. Among these were amendments to improve payments for certain radiation therapy services and provide flexibility in applying the hardship exemption for meaningful use for 2017 payment adjustments, as well as a bill to prohibit discrimination against individuals with disabilities who need long-term services and supports, and one to provide for research and the testing of innovative healthcare delivery models to improve medication adherence, reported America’s Health Insurance Plans.