Trending News Today: Harms From Statins May Outweigh Benefits in Some Patients

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

Judge Richard Leon of the US District Court for the District of Columbia could block the merger agreement between CVS and Aetna, according to CNBC. If he finds it does not, the companies can either appeal or renegotiate. The article stated that Leon is considering concerns from groups, such as the American Medical Association, asking regulators to block the deal on the grounds it could reduce competition and harm consumers. In approving the deal, the Justice Department required CVS and Aetna to eliminate the overlap between their Medicare Part D, which prompted Aetna to sell its WellCare Health Plans. If the judge finds this move does not satisfy anti-competitive issues, the companies can either appeal or renegotiate the merger, according to the report.

A conservative research group released a study that suggests establishing a work requirement for Medicaid eligibility could significantly boost the lifetime earnings for enrollees, according to a report in Modern Healthcare. The Ohio-based Buckeye Institute’s research states that a work requirement could boost lifetime earnings by nearly $1 million for non-disabled people who leave Medicaid, more than $200,000 for women who stay on the program, and by more than $300,000 for men who remain, the article noted. Critics countered that many other studies show a lack of evidence supporting this claim. "This report is a thinly veiled attempt to come up with unsupported policy arguments for depriving people of the benefits of expanded Medicaid," Sara Rosenbaum, a health law professor at George Washington University and former chair of the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission, told Modern Healthcare.

Although statins are generally safe, a new study suggests that 15% to 20% of older adults should be taking statins, which is significantly lower than the 30% to 40% suggested by current medical guidelines, according to a report by NPR. While statins are generally safe—with only muscle pain and an elevated diabetes risk among the main adverse event risks—the benefits are limited, the report noted. The study found that an estimated 50 to 200 healthy people require a daily statin to prevent a heart attack for 5 years, therefore even small harms may outweigh the benefits.