Monday, November 13, 2023 – KFF Health News

AstraZeneca Says It Will Prioritize RSV Drug Doses For US As Infections Soar

Beyfortus, the therapy in question, was approved for use against the disease in infants and toddlers in July, and a surge of cases in the U.S. has seen it in short supply. Separately, AstraZeneca is also looking at markets for cheap Ozempic-like weight-loss drugs aimed at more modest weight-losses.

AstraZeneca Prioritizes US For RSV Drug Amid Surge In Cases

AstraZeneca on Friday said it was prioritizing the U.S. market for additional doses of its respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) drug Beyfortus, which was approved in July to prevent the disease in infants and toddlers, as a surge of cases is outpacing supply. AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot in an interview at the Reuters office in New York said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had been asking for more of the antibody therapy that was co-developed with French drugmaker Sanofi. (Wingrove and Fick, 11/10)

AstraZeneca Eyes Market For Cheap Ozempic-Like Drug In Pill Form

AstraZeneca Plc Chief Executive Officer Pascal Soriot envisions his company bringing more affordable drugs to people who need to lose a modest amount of weight for health reasons but don’t necessarily have obesity. One day after the UK drugmaker announced a deal to develop an obesity pill with a Chinese biotech, Eccogene, Soriot said the company is aiming for a once-daily pill that’s less costly to produce than injectable obesity medicines. (Langreth and Cattan, 11/10)

In news on the health industry and technology —

What Amazon Prime’s New One Medical Offering Reveals About The Future Of Health Care

Amazon Prime members have a new offer in addition to the usual delivery and streaming services: Access to One Medical, the Amazon-owned primary care company. Members have the option, announced Wednesday, to pay an additional $9 per month, or $99 per year, for One Medical’s telehealth services and in-office appointments at a discount of about half its typical $199 yearly cost. (Merelli, 11/10)

Modern Healthcare:
Instacart Health’s Partnerships Grow With Food-As-Medicine Program

Instacart launched Instacart Health in September 2022 to expand the work it had been doing with food assistance programs, nutrition education and prescribed meal plans. While it continues to offer grocery delivery and other services to consumers, Instacart is increasingly partnering with healthcare organizations to offer food-as-medicine programs, said Sarah Mastrorocco, Instacart Health’s general manager. (Perna, 11/10)

The Colorado Sun:
How UCHealth Is Using AI Technology To Fight Sepsis

Let’s say you’re a doctor and you’re trying to monitor a patient for sepsis — a dangerous blood infection that kills hundreds of people each year in Colorado. If you wait until it’s obvious that your patient is septic, your chances of saving that patient are only 50-50. But the other problem is that the early signs of sepsis — fever, shortness of breath, elevated heart rate — look like a ton of other things, too. If you jump too early, you could be treating something that doesn’t exist. (Ingold, 11/10)

CBS News:
Sutter Health Announces Ransomware Attack That Exposed Personal Information Of Patients

The personal information of potentially hundreds of thousands of patients at Sutter Health was exposed during a ransomware attack on one of its vendors earlier this year, Sutter Health announced on its website. … Virgin Pulse estimated about 845,000 Sutter Health patients could be affected by the attack, according to Sutter Health. They did say social security numbers and financial information were not impacted. (Downs, 11/10)

In other industry news —

Modern Healthcare:
HCA Plots Aggressive Expansion For Hospitals, ERs, Other Services

HCA Healthcare has bold growth plans to take market share. The for-profit system is investing billions of dollars to expand its physical footprint across service lines. As of Aug. 31, the company had $5.3 billion in approved capital projects set to be completed in the next two years, ranging from renovations of existing facilities to new hospitals and outpatient locations, Chief Operating Officer Jon Foster said Thursday during HCA’s investor day conference. (Hudson, 11/10)

Modern Healthcare:
Thoma Bravo Closes NextGen Healthcare Acquisition For $1.8B

Private equity firm Thoma Bravo said Friday it closed its $1.8 billion acquisition of electronic health records vendor NextGen Healthcare. NextGen shareholders approved the deal during a meeting Tuesday and will receive $23.95 per share. NextGen is the latest health technology business to go private, following private equity deals for companies that struggled on the public markets, such as SOC Telemed, Allscripts and Tivity Health. (Turner, 11/10)

The Boston Globe:
Prospect Medical Holdings Has Underfunded Two R.I. Hospitals And Affected Operations, State Says

Prospect Medical Holdings, a Los Angeles-based company has been underfunding two Rhode Island hospitals to the point where its impacting operations and canceling patient surgeries, according to a new compliance order issued by the state health department Thursday night. … “These latest issues are part of a pattern of Prospect Medical Holdings engaging in non-compliance and creating delays in making required disclosures of financial information,” the state health department said in a news release. (Gagosz, 11/9)

On industry staffing matters —

San Gabriel Valley Tribune:
85,000 Kaiser Permanente Workers Ratify Contract That’s Boosting Wages 21%

More than 85,000 Kaiser Permanente workers have voted to ratify a new labor contract that will boost wages, promote increased hiring and give front-line healthcare employees a stronger voice on the job. The workers, represented by the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions, voted 98.5% in favor of the four-year labor agreement that runs from Oct. 1, 2023 to Sept. 30, 2027. … “When healthcare workers stand shoulder-to-shoulder to fight for our patients and our jobs, we can win.” (Smith, 11/9)

The Boston Globe:
Mass General Brigham Offers Buyouts To Technology Staffers

Mass General Brigham said Friday it has offered buyouts to an unspecified number of employees who work in its technology arm as the financially strained health care giant seeks to “better optimize our workforce.” The company said in a statement that it had offered “volunteer separation” to employees in its Digital unit, which provides services ranging from information technology to maintenance of patients’ electronic health care records. (Saltzman, 11/10)

Also —

Anthos Stroke Drug Appears Safer Than Common Blood Thinner

An investigational drug aimed at preventing strokes significantly reduced the risk of bleeding compared with a commonly used blood thinner for stroke prevention, showing potential to be a safer alternative for patients. (Chen, 11/12)

In Key Trial, Verve’s Treatment Lowers Cholesterol Levels In Patients

Verve Therapeutics said Sunday that the first 10 people to receive a one-time treatment powered by a form of CRISPR called base editing showed reductions in bad cholesterol levels — study results that are preliminary but signal the potential for gene-editing treatments to benefit people with an inherited type of cardiovascular disease. (Feuerstein, 11/12)


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