What We're Reading: Whole-Genome Sequencing for Infants; Co-pay Troubles for Specialty Drugs; VA Nomination Praised

Whole-genome sequencing, which looks at a bigger genetic picture than targeted gene panels, is offering new hope for the 3% of infants born with rare genetic diseases; there are a growing number of patients taking specialty drugs being hit with sticker shock as they find their expensive medications are no longer shielded by co-pay assistance programs; veterans groups are praising the nomination of Robert Wilkie to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as a stabilizing next step for the troubled agency.

Infants Born With Genetic Diseases Have New Option for Faster Diagnosis

Co-pay Woes for Patients on Specialty Drugs When Assistance Programs End

Whole-genome sequencing, which looks at a bigger genetic picture than targeted gene panels, is offering new hope for the 3% of infants born with rare genetic diseases, The Wall Street Journal reported. Neonatal physicians may be able to make diagnoses that once took weeks or months, often at great expense, in a matter of days, allowing for treatment to begin sooner.There are a growing number of patients taking specialty drugs being hit with sticker shock as they find their expensive medications are no longer shielded by co-pay assistance programs that help cover their costs, Kaiser Health News reported. Kaiser profiled a woman whose multiple sclerosis drug cost $90,000 and the change means that the pharmaceutical company’s co-pay assistance no longer counts towards her $8800 pharmacy deductible. In these programs, consumers typically owe nothing or have modest monthly co-payments for pricey drugs because many manufacturers pay a patient’s portion of the cost to the insurer.

Veterans Groups Praise Wilkie's Nomination to Lead VA

Veterans groups are praising the nomination of Robert Wilkie to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as a stabilizing next step for the troubled agency, The Hill reported. Wilkie, who is serving as acting VA secretary, is drawing bipartisan praise. He has years of Capitol Hill and Pentagon experience, has worked for 2 presidents, and has drawn praise from both Republicans and Democrats. The nomination is seen as a safe choice in the aftermath of the failed nomination of former White House physician Ronny Jackson.