What We're Reading: Posthospital Syndrome; Priority Review Vouchers; Secrecy of Amazon Health Venture

One of the reasons why hospital readmissions for the elderly are remaining high may be posthospital syndrome; priority review vouchers, which can be awarded by the FDA to 1 company and sold for a hefty price to another, are commanding a lower price than in past years; almost 8 months after Amazon, JP Morgan Chase, and Berkshire Hathaway announced their joint healthcare venture, there is little public information about it.

Elderly Vulnerable to Posthospital Syndrome

Despite Medicare penalizing hospitals for 30-day readmissions, the rate remains stubbornly high. According to The New York Times, that rate may be a result of posthospital syndrome, a vulnerable state that leaves the elderly disoriented and weak after being discharged from the hospital. According to 1 expert, hospital discharge marks the start of a period of vulnerability that can last 60 to 90 days. This period increases the patient’s risk of developing other health problems stemming from the stress of hospitalization.

Decreasing Value of Priority Review Vouchers

Priority review vouchers (PRVs) can be redeemed to shorten the review times for certain drugs, and they can be sold. However, these vouchers are commanding lower prices, suggesting they may be valued less as the FDA issues more of them, reported Biopharma Dive. In 2015, a PRV was sold for $350 million, but the most recent one sold only fetched $80.6 million. The FDA awarded 6 PRVs throughout all of 2017, and it has already given out 5 in 2018.

Much Secrecy Remains Around Amazon—JP Morgan–Berkshire Hathaway Venture

When Amazon, JP Morgan Chase, and Berkshire Hathaway first announced its joint venture to addressing rising healthcare costs, there was great speculation about what the companies might be able to achieve. Almost 8 months later, there is still little public information about the venture. STAT took a look at what is known about the venture and what the nonprofit’s goal might really be. While Atul Gawande, MD, who was named CEO of the venture in June, said the company will stand apart from the 3 companies funding it, an insider did explain that solutions put in place must be vetted and considered by Amazon, JP Morgan, and Berkshire, first.