The promising antiviral drugs to treat covid can halt hospitalizations and deaths, but only if they’re given to patients within three to five days of their first symptoms, a narrow window many people won’t meet. Here’s why.
Federal health officials appear poised to extend a recommendation for covid boosters to all adults, following moves by some governors and mayors to broaden the eligible booster pool as caseloads rise. Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration finally has a nominee to head the agency: former FDA chief Robert Califf. And Medicare premiums for consumers will likely rise substantially in 2022, partly due to the approval of a controversial drug to treat Alzheimer’s disease. Tami Luhby of CNN, Sarah Karlin-Smith of the Pink Sheet and Rachel Cohrs of Stat join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Also this week, Rovner interviews Dan Weissmann, host of the “An Arm and a Leg” podcast.
Politicians and many health experts have done their best to see the glass half-full in the plan put forward by congressional Democrats and the president. But it’s “a far cry” from what other nations do to rein in drug prices, and polls show most voters demand more protection.
The number of pharmacies dispensing 340B discounted drugs soared to more than 31,000 this year. Drugmakers struck back by halting some discounts. Hospitals say they are losing millions of dollars — and cutting back services to patients — as a result.
More than 1,000 independent rural pharmacies have closed since 2003, leaving 630 communities with no retail drugstore. As 41 million people stuck in pharmacy deserts make do, the remaining drugstores struggle to survive.
Congress is making slow progress toward completing its ambitious social spending bill, although its Thanksgiving deadline looks optimistic. Meanwhile, a new survey finds the average cost of an employer-provided family plan has risen to more than $22,000. That’s about the cost of a new Toyota Corolla. Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Anna Edney of Bloomberg News and Rebecca Adams of CQ Roll Call join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Also this week, Rovner interviews Rebecca Love, a nurse academic and entrepreneur, about the impending crisis in nursing.
Kids who need a hormone-blocking drug to delay puberty have lost an off-label option. The nearly identical drug the company still sells costs eight times more.
A West Virginia pharmacy cleared a Drug Enforcement Administration investigation. But it shut down anyway, highlighting how the agency’s policies reduce the availability of buprenorphine, an important tool for recovery from opioid addiction.
A last-minute agreement among lawmakers restored a provision seeking to hold down rising costs of prescription medicines. Although details on which drugs will be targeted remain sketchy, the legislation would help patients buying insulin and cap Medicare beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket drug costs at $2,000 a year.
Reports of waning effectiveness and mixed messages about booster shots fuel the politicization of vaccination.