What We're Reading: GSK Buying Tesaro; GOP Gives Up Planned Parenthood Cuts; Medicare and Nursing Homes

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is buying cancer biotech firm Tesaro for for $5.1 billion; Republicans in Congree are giving up efforts to cut Planned Parenthood funding; Medicare is using financial incentives to reward or punish nursing homes based on how often their residents ended up back in hospitals within 30 days of discharge.

GlaxoSmithKline Purchasing Cancer Biotech Tesaro for $5.1 Billion

GlaxoSmithKline is buying cancer biotech firm Tesaro for for $5.1 billion, STAT reported. Tesaro’s ovarian cancer drug Zejula belongs to a class of cancer drugs called poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) inhibitors. Zejula sales are expected to be in range of $233 million to $238 million this year. GlaxoSmithKline said the purchase “will strengthen our pharmaceuticals business by accelerating the build of our oncology pipeline and commercial footprint.” Biotech mergers and acquisitions have been generally lackluster this year, so the deal may spark renewed optimism for new deals in 2019.

Republicans Giving Up Efforts to Cut Federal Planned Parenthood Funds

With Democrats preparing to take control of the House, Congressional Republicans are giving up on years of promises to cut federal funding for Planned Parenthood, Politico reported. That became evident last week when Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, briefly tried and failed to push through one last bid to push through Planned Parenthood cuts, a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and other conservative priorities. But rattled by the possibility of a shutdown next week triggered by President Donald Trump’s border wall demands, most Republicans, dismissed his bid, infuriating anti-abortion groups, who plan to turn to state legislatures and the courts.

Medicare Using Funding to Push Nursing Homes to Improve Hospital Readmissions

The United States is using financial incentives to reward or punish nursing homes based on how often their residents ended up back in hospitals within 30 days of leaving, Kaiser Health News reported. The new Medicare program is altering a year’s worth of payments to 14,959 skilled nursing facilities. It lowered payments to nearly 11,000 nursing homes and gave bonuses to nearly 4000 others. These bonuses and penalties are also intended to discourage nursing homes from discharging patients too quickly. Hospitalizations of nursing home residents, while decreasing in recent years, remain a problem, with nearly 11% of patients in 2016 being sent to hospitals for conditions that might have been averted with better medical oversight.