Trending News Today: CVS Dropping Two Branded Drugs for Biosimilars

Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.

New records show that as Medicare withholds more than half a billion dollars in payments over the next year, the federal government’s penalties on hospitals will reach a new high, reported Kaiser Health News. A total of 2597 hospitals in the United States will be punished by the government, having more patients than initially expected return within a month. Although this is apprxoimately the same number of hospitals penalized last year, the average penalty will increase by one-fifth. These new penalties will take effect in October, and are based on the rehospitalization rate for patients with 6 common conditions: heart failure, heart attacks, chronic lung disease, hip and knee replacements, coronary artery bypass graft surgery, and pneumonia. The penalties are expected to total $528 billion, which is approximately $108 million more than last year, according to Medicare.

In an effort to combat rising prescription drug costs, CVS Health Corps is embracing new and cheaper copies of biotech medicines. According to The Wall Street Journal, CVS stated Tuesday that it would drop coverage of 2 higher priced medications that treat cancer and diabetes. Instead, they plan to cover biosimilars for a large portion of drug-plan members.

With the recent hepatitis A outbreak in Hawaii, the federal government has awarded $3.7 million to the state Department of Health in order to fight infectious diseases such as, the Zika virus and hepatitis A. According to The New York Times, more than 90 people in Hawaii have contracted hepatitis A since mid-June, and the numbers are continuing to rise. Unfortunately, the state has been unable to pinpoint the source of the outbreak because it is difficult to identify due to the long incubation period. “It’s incredibly frustrating,” said state epidemiologist Sarah Park in the report. “It’s very common for a hepatitis A outbreak to go unsolved.”