What We're Reading: Theranos Now Subject of a Criminal Investigation

What we're reading, April 19, 2016: blood-testing laboratory Theranos is now facing a criminal investigation; biosimilars may not be cheaper than brand name biologics for some seniors; and stigma and misconceptions remain regarding palliative care.

Blood-testing laboratory Theranos is now facing a criminal investigation. The company has come under scrutiny recently with questions about whether Theranos’ technology, which could perform blood tests from a single finger prick, actually worked. Now, reports The New York Times, both the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating the company and looking into claims about its technology.

Biosimilars are expected to lower the cost of medication, but not for some due to an “unintended consequence” of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Instead, Medicare Part D beneficiaries will pay more for biosimilars than they would for more expensive brand name biologics, according to STAT. While the law requires drug makers provide a 50% discount for brand name drugs when beneficiaries reach the coverage gap, there is no requirement for a discount for biosimilars. At the time the ACA was being created, there were no biosimilars on the market in the US.

Stigma remains an issue for patients with cancer who could benefit from palliative care. A Canadian study found that patients turn down palliative care because they think it is akin to giving up and waiting to die, reported Reuters. However, patients did realize that palliative care is supposed to provide comfort. The researchers determined that using different language in discussions with patients could make a difference in how palliative care is viewed.