What We're Reading: Insulin Coverage Questions; Coronavirus Concern in Calif; Obesity Rises

February 27, 2020

Express Scripts’ insulin coverage decisions are questioned; the United States may have its first coronavirus case of unknown origin; obesity rates are on the rise among US adults.

Senators Question Cigna’s Express Scripts Division on Insulin Coverage Decisions

Senators Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, in a letter to Express Scripts President Timothy Wentworth, say the company may soon see a subpoena regarding its insulin coverage practices, according to Bloomberg. At issue is Express Scripts’ possible failure to “even attempt to answer” coverage questions originally asked of Cigna's pharmacy benefits manager in April 2019. The deadline for a reply is March 10, at which time Express Scripts will have to provide more information about its insulin coverage and drugmaker rebates.

Does the United States Have a Coronavirus Case of Unknown Origin?

The Associated Press is reporting that a patient in California may be the first instance of the coronavirus with an unknown origin. The patient, from Solano County, is being treated in Sacramento County, and known contacts are being tracked down. There was an apparent delay of 4 days after the patient arrived at UC Davis Medical Center before the CDC agreed to test for COVID-19, because he or she “did not fit existing CDC criteria for COVID-19.” Currently, there are 59 other US cases; those patients had traveled abroad or had been in contact with someone who had.

Rates of Obesity, Severe Obesity Are on the Rise

Nine percent of adults were severely obese and 42% obese, according to data from the CDC for 2017 and 2018, both representing increases from 1999-2000 through 2017-2018. Data from the agency’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey also show these rates were highest in non-Hispanic black adults (49.6%) and lowest among non-Hispanic Asian adults (17.4%). By age, the rate was highest among middle-aged adults (44.8%; 40-59 years) and lowest for younger adults (40.0%; 20-39 years). Complications related to severe obesity include coronary heart disease and end-stage renal disease.