The Health News USA February 2 2018

  • A federal judge on Tuesday sentenced Aegerion Pharmaceuticals Inc. for improperly marketing a cholesterol drug and ordered that some of the $40.1 million it agreed to pay to resolve a U.S. investigation go to the company’s victims. U.S. District Judge William Young in Boston had in November rejected an initial plea deal between the U.S. Justice Department and the Novelion Therapeutics Inc unit, saying it restricted his ability to impose a sentence. .
  • Better-than-expected earnings from Anthem helped lift shares of health insurers Wednesday, one day after investors were spooked by a new initiative from Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and J.P. Morgan to combat rising employer health-care costs. Anthem shares rose to a historic high of $267.95, after the health insurer reported fourth-quarter profits of $1.29 per share, 2 cents above the Thomson Reuters consensus estimate. Revenue of $22.45 billion also topped expectations. Anthem closed Wednesday at $247.85, up 1.8 percent.
  • Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and J.P. Morgan Chase are teaming up to reduce health care costs for their own employees. Startups that offer virtual care as an alternative to sending an employee to a physical doctor’s office, will likely play a big role in lowering costs. These companies have spent the past decade pushing for federal and state governments to provide clinicians with a way to bill their patients for consultations conducted via video or over the phone, and have made some major progress.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 2nd of February 2018. Read by Tabetha Moreto.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-novelion-therape-settlement/u-s-judge-sentences-novelions-aegerion-in-drug-marketing-case-idUSKBN1FJ2ZG

A federal judge on Tuesday sentenced Aegerion Pharmaceuticals Incorporated for improperly marketing a cholesterol drug and ordered that some of the forty point one million dollars it agreed to pay to resolve a U.S. investigation go to the company’s victims. U.S. District Judge William Young in Boston had in November rejected an initial plea deal between the U.S. Justice Department and the Novelion Therapeutics Inc unit, saying it restricted his ability to impose a sentence.

The judge sentenced Aegerion under a new deal that gave him discretion to determine how much it should pay. Young ordered it to pay seven point two million dollars, an amount it had from the start agreed to pay and that is part of the forty point one million dollars. But Young said he disagreed with treating that sum as a fine that would go to the government as the deal called for and said it would instead be made available to ninety one patients who may have been harmed by Aegerion’s conduct.
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Prosecutors said after Aegerion in two thousand twelve received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval to market Juxtapid for treating high cholesterol in people with a rare genetic disease, the company promoted the expensive drug for patients who lacked the condition. Numerous patients suffered side effects including liver toxicity and gastrointestinal distress, prosecutors said.

In court on Tuesday, Aegerion pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts that it misbranded the drug in violation of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

In total, Aegerion agreed to pay thirty six million dollars to resolve criminal and civil claims by the Justice Department.
https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/31/anthem-earnings-beat-lifts-health-insurer-stocks.html

Better-than-expected earnings from Anthem helped lift shares of health insurers Wednesday, one day after investors were spooked by a new initiative from Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and J.P. Morgan to combat rising employer health-care costs.

Anthem shares rose to a historic high of two hundred sixty seven dollars and ninety five cents, after the health insurer reported fourth-quarter profits of one dollar and twenty nine cents per share, two cents above the Thomson Reuters consensus estimate. Revenue of twenty two point forty five billion dollars also topped expectations. Anthem closed Wednesday at two hundred forty seventy dollars and eighty five cents, up one point eight percent.

Among the highlights of the quarter, Anthem’s Affordable Care Act exchange business produced a surprise profit for two thousand seventeen, despite an uptick in flu cases late last year.
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The nation’s second largest insurer pulled back sharply from the Obamacare exchanges for two thousand eighteen, citing market upheaval and potential losses, and it still expects its exchange membership to decline by seventy percent.

Anthem raised its profit forecast for two thousand eighteen, saying it now expects to earn more than fifteen dollars per share, attributing two dollars per share to tax reform. The company says it plans to return half of the windfall to shareholders, another twenty five percent to members in the form of rebates, and reinvest another twenty five percent into the business.
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Shares of the major insurers, which sell plans to large employers fell more than four percent on average Tuesday, in the wake of the Amazon-Berkshire-JP Morgan announcement.

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/30/amazon-health-move-big-win-for-telemedicine-health-start-ups.html

Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and J.P. Morgan Chase are teaming up to reduce health care costs for their own employees. Startups that offer virtual care as an alternative to sending an employee to a physical doctor’s office, will likely play a big role in lowering costs. These companies have spent the past decade pushing for federal and state governments to provide clinicians with a way to bill their patients for consultations conducted via video or over the phone, and have made some major progress.

These apps provide a first-step alternative to visiting a doctor in person, which is a real hardship for many Americans living in rural areas. Because they live so far from doctors, a lot of people in rural areas delay or avoid doctor’s visits until they’re really sick.
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Getting them to take a ten-minute call with a doctor to figure out next steps could drive down costs for employers. The last thing that a company like Amazon wants is an employee to make an unnecessary, and very expensive, trip to the emergency room. One big problem with these apps: A lot of people don’t know they exist. Teaming up with three huge employers could raise awareness.
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Other companies that will likely benefit from Amazon’s moves in health care are consumer-focused tools that help people find available doctors, book appointments, and get advice on paying their medical bills.

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