Insurer Centene strikes a deal to acquire WellCare, creating a new giant in the healthcare market; a federal jury orders Monsanto to pay over $80 million to a plaintiff whose cancer was found to be caused by a common weed killer; surgeons perform a transplant using a kidney from a living donor with HIV.
The major insurance company Centene announced that it has agreed to buy smaller insurer Wellcare for $15.3 billion, reported The New York Times. The deal would create a new healthcare giant specializing in offering private health insurance plans under Medicare and Medicaid. Revenues of the combined company are expected to near $100 billion in 2019 and their plans would cover 22 million people across all 50 states. Approval of the deal would cement Centene’s dominance in the Medicaid market and increase their presence in the expanding market for private plans under Medicare.A federal jury ordered Monsanto to pay over $80 million in damages after they determined a California man’s cancer was caused by the commonly used weed killer Roundup, according to The New York Times. The jury decided that Monsanto should be held liable as their product did not include a warning label about cancer risk. The company is currently defending itself against thousands of similar claims. The verdict marks a milestone in an ongoing debate over the health effects caused by glyphosate, the product’s active ingredient. The plaintiff, 70-year-old Edwin Hardeman, regularly used Roundup over a period of 26 years. He learned he had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2015 and sued Monsanto the following year after the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer declared glyphosate a probable carcinogen.In Baltimore, surgeons have performed what is believed to be the world’s first kidney transplant from a living donor with HIV, reported The Washington Post. Both the donor and the recipient have been recovering well following the procedure. The transplant resolves safety concerns over whether recipients of an organ from someone with a strain of HIV different from their own poses any risks. Physicians have previously hesitated to allow living individuals with HIV to donate due to concerns that their remaining kidney could be subjected to damage from the virus or from older HIV medications. However, Dorry Segev, MD, PhD, surgeon at Johns Hopkins, said that newer anti-HIV medications are safer and more effective. Segev’s team recently studied the kidney health of 40,000 HIV-positive people and found that individuals living with well-controlled HIV and no other kidney-harming conditions face the same risks from organ donation as individuals without the HIV virus.