What We're Reading: New Anticholesterol Drug; Addiction Treatment in EDs; Rural Hospital Crisis

A small biotech company is moving toward FDA approval with a pill it believes can lower bad cholesterol at a discount to other medicines; most of the nation’s hospitals have so far avoided offering any form of addiction medicine to patients in the emergency department, but in Maryland, that is starting to change; since 2010, nearly 90 rural hospitals have shut their doors, and there are consequences for residents and different reasons why this is happening.

Biotech Firm Placing Bets on Anticholesterol Drug Bempedoic Acid in 2019

A small biotech company is moving toward FDA approval with a pill it believes can lower bad cholesterol at a discount to other medicines. STAT reported that Esperion Therapeutics said a combination of its once-a-day treatment and a maximum dose of statin lowered low-density lipoprotein cholesterol 18% more than statins alone after 12 weeks. The results come from the last of 5 successful trials on Esperion’s drug, called bempedoic acid. The company plans to file for FDA approval early next year. Cardiologists are impressed by the safety data in the 779-patient study, where the drug was indistinguishable from placebo when it came to side effects and deaths.

In Maryland, Emergency Treatment Starts Adding Addiction Services

Most of the nation’s more than 5500 hospitals have so far avoided offering any form of addiction medicine to patients in the emergency department—instead, they give patients with drug-related conditions the telephone numbers of local treatment clinics. The Washington Post reported that there are efforts to change that in Maryland, where addiction services, including starting patients on the highly effective antiaddiction medication buprenorphine, is a new and growing emergency service.

Health Economist Discusses The Crisis With Rural Hospitals

Since 2010, nearly 90 rural hospitals have shut their doors, and a column in The New York Times by Austin Frakt, PhD, a member of The American Journal of Managed Care®'s editorial board, discusses some of the consequences and reasons why this is happening. Beyond the potential health consequences for residents who have to travel farther for care, hospital closings can exact an economic toll and are associated with some states’ decisions not to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Hundreds of other rural hospitals are also at risk of closing.