Congressional Scrutiny Over 340B Program Continues to Grow

A little over a year ago, I warned about the growing abuse of the 340B Discount Drug Program, noting that chain drug stores like Walgreen Walgreen, Rite Aide (RAD) and CVS Caremark CVS -0.6% could see profits fall if Congress restored sanity to a program originally designed to help the poor and uninsured. Originally the program assisted that cohort in getting the drugs they need at a cost they could afford. It now seems a day of reckoning could be finally approaching.  Congress recently held its first hearing on the 340B program since 2005 and a consensus view that the program needs some reform and transparency. (more…)

Blown ‘doc fix’ Deadline Leaves Medicare Payments in Limbo

Congress was one vote away from ending its perennial Medicare “doc fix” dilemma for good, after nearly two decades of last-minute deals to prevent a healthcare meltdown.

But instead of capping a rare week of productivity on Capitol Hill with the approval of a bipartisan fix ahead of a crucial Tuesday deadline, the Senate punted on the legislation in the wee hours of Friday morning. (more…)

The Healing Power of Your Own Medical Records

Steven Keating’s doctors and medical experts view him as a citizen of the future.

A scan of his brain eight years ago revealed a slight abnormality — nothing to worry about, he was told, but worth monitoring. And monitor he did, reading and studying about brain structure, function and wayward cells, and obtaining a follow-up scan in 2010, which showed no trouble. (more…)

Bill Could End Health Center’s Tax Exemption

Sen. Chas Vincent of Libby has proposed a bill in the Montana Legislature that could lead to the revocation of Northwest Community Health Center’s tax-exempt status.

The bill, SB407, would revoke the tax-exempt status and impose a fine in lieu of taxes for non-profit pharmacies operating commercial enterprises under a federal drug discount program. (more…)

New Cancer Drugs ‘Vastly Overestimated’, Says Contrarian Analyst

(Reuters) – A hot new class of drugs designed to help the body’s own immune system fend off cancer by blocking a protein called PD-1 is going to be big – but not nearly as big as investors think, according to a new analysis.

Former top Nomura analyst Amit Roy, who now runs independent research firm Foveal, thinks sales of drugs inhibiting Programmed Death receptor (PD-1), or a related target PD-L1, will sell much less than expected. (more…)

Review: In ‘Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies,’ Battling an Opportunistic Killer

Early in Monday’s first installment of PBS’s “Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies,” a statistic about cancer’s toll in the United States is offered to convey the magnitude of the subject. “More will die from cancer over the next two years than died in combat in all the wars the United States has ever fought, combined,” the narration says. (more…)

Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, 1975-2011

Per the report, “Despite our successes, cancer remains a major burden and support for the clinical and public health infrastructure for diagnosing, treating, prevention, and tracking cancer remain vital.” (more…)

New Data Helps Doctors Zero in on Breast Cancer Risks, Treatments

At Ricki Fairley’s annual check-up in 2012, doctors found a tiny lump. She was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer, a less common and more aggressive form of the disease that has very few treatment options. Approximately 15 percent of all breast cancer cases are categorized as triple negative.

Triple negative breast cancer can be effectively treated if the disease is caught early, and Fairley, now 58 years old, is living proof. She underwent a long course of aggressive chemotherapy and radiation and is now doing well. (more…)

Report Finds Troubling Breast Cancer Rates in Black Women

A new analysis of breast cancer is giving doctors and patients a wealth of information geared at helping to diagnose and treat the disease. The data was presented in a report released Monday by four major cancer groups in the U.S., including the American Cancer Society. It provides the most detailed analysis to date of breast cancer risk by age, race and geography. (more…)

Ken Burns Tackles History of Cancer

Ken Burns’ new documentary, Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies, marks a contrast to the historical documentaries for which he’s best known. Unlike the Civil War or the Roosevelt presidencies, the story of cancer doesn’t yet have an ending.

Burns, the film’s executive producer, says his approach changed as he learned more about the history of cancer research, and the challenges facing doctors and patients today. (more…)