Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.
As the fight continues between drug manufacturers and insurance companies, certain medications may no longer be covered next year in order to drive discounts, reported NPR. This month, CVS Caremark and Express Scripts released their 2017 lists of approved formulary drugs, while also including a long list of excluded medications. Some of the newly excluded drugs treat diabetes and hepatitis, in addition to some cancer drugs and asthma inhalers Proventil and Ventolin. Furthermore, Express Scripts has decided to drop the drug Orencia, which is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. CVS Caremark’s exclusion list consists of roughly 130 drugs and Express Scripts lists 85, with a policy of not banning mental health medications or cancer drugs.
A day after the White House announced it would redirect funds from other efforts to help pay for research to find a vaccine for Zika, officials said that the number of infections caused by the virus in Puerto Rico surpassed 10,000. According to The Los Angeles Times, the Obama administration announced Thursday it would shift $81 million from biomedical research and antipoverty programs to pay for the development of a Zika vaccine. In the last week, 1914 new cases of Zika were discovered in Puerto Rico, increasing the overall number to 10,690 with 1035 involving pregnant women.
In a collaborative project between IBM and the New York Genome Center, researchers have been exploring the use of computers to help analyze a wide range of genetic information and scientific literature to make precise treatment plans for cancer patients. According to NPR, the project first began in 2013, involving a group of 30 patients with glioblastoma to create personalized treatment options for each of the patients. Although researchers declined to comment on the findings before they are published, they noted that some patients will benefit from this study. Now, the researchers will be moving on to apply the findings to a larger group of glioblastoma patients, and will be working with the Veterans Health Administration.