The Daily Rise: Friday, June 24

How To Save 28,000 Lives … Without Increasing Spending

Can a more expensive treatment also create the most value?

New research published in JAMA Cardiology suggests that 28,484 lives could be saved every year without increasing health care spending.

“Researchers crunched numbers on U.S. heart failure patients and associated spending to show that Entresto is as cost-effective as the standard generic treatment enalapril,” writes Tracy Staton.” The kicker? Using Entresto in all patients likely to benefit would save 28,484 lives per year.”

One of our biggest frustrations with the debate over drug prices is that it often underestimates the true value created. One reason that a more expensive treatment pencils out is due to the reduced hospitalization rates and longer life delivered by Entresto.

In one study, the researchers decided that 84% of heart failure patients with reduced ejection fraction–the population Entresto is approved to treat–would be eligible for therapy with Entresto. That’s almost 2.3 million patients. Using the drug properly in these patients could prevent 28,484 deaths every year, the study concluded, or a range of 18,230 to 41,017 per year.

The other study added hospitalizations into the mix. Researchers followed patients from a population model for 27 months and projected lifetime outcomes, and then weighed the cost of drug therapy with Entresto or enalapril, plus any medical expenses. They found that, for every 1,000 patients treated with Entresto, 220 hospitalizations would be averted over the course of their lifetimes. But the savings weren’t considered to be that simple: Because the enalapril patients were projected to die sooner than those on Entresto, the lifetime difference in hospitalizations was smaller, about 59.

“It’s very rare that a new therapy would be cost-dominant, with benefits so overwhelming that they reduce total healthcare costs. Here the reduction in hospitalization costs offset the drug costs but not completely,” said study author Dr. Greg Foranow, of the UCLA Cardiomyopathy Center.

Video of the Week: Innovation

Meet the stentrode. It’s the tiny device that could help paralyzed patients walk. Thank you, innovation.

For more info, check out a post by the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation Paralysis Resource Guide.

Compounding Waste & Fraud

Waste and fraud are compounding problems in health care.

Just check out a new report by the Office of the Inspector General at the US Health & Human Services, which is raising serious questions about the skyrocketing spending at compounding pharmacies. The numbers show an incredible 625 percent jump in spending in less than a decade:

  • $70 Million: Medicare Part D spending for compounded drugs in 2006
  • $508 Million:  Medicare Part D spending for compounded drugs in 2015

“By comparison, spending for all prescription drugs covered by the program rose 167 percent during the same period,” Stat News reports. The major disparity is likely the result of systemic waste and fraud. The Office of the Inspector General points to “a ‘growing number’ of cases that include civil and criminal actions taken against pharmacies since last July 2015 that represent over $20 million in expected recoveries for wrongdoing.”

It makes you wonder if all our health care spending problems could be solved by just eliminating the waste and fraud.

Join the Patients Rising Access to Care Community

With the launch of the CancerConnect online community, Patients Rising now offers a specialized social network for all patients facing access to care challenges where they can share information, provide support, and build community with others. Join the Patients Rising CancerConnect Community by clicking here. This features the national Access to Care support group and we will be adding additional community groups as patients demand them!

The launch of the Patients Rising CancerConnect Community is part of OMNI Health Media and Patients Rising online and print publication partnership announced earlier this year. OMNI Health Media is a leading multimedia publisher of health-related information, produced specifically for cancer patients. Patients Rising is a new patient advocacy organization formed to fight for patient access to vital therapies. Providing healthcare consumers an online support community where they can find support, resources, and connect with others is a vital component to improving access to care.

“Patients Rising and the Patient Advocate Foundation will co-moderate the group and provide resources to support patients with access to care issues,” explains Charles Weaver, MD, a medical oncologist and Executive Editor of CancerConnect and Women Magazine.  “The new Access to Care group on CancerConnect will allow patients to express their concerns and problems with access to care issues so that community members can help each other effectively resolve them.”

You’ll receive updates about new resources, patient stories and insights, advocacy work, and alerts about patient-support events.