Trending News Today: New Brain Regeneration Technique Sparks Fears of Zombie Apocalypse

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

The proposed 2-phased Medicare Part B Drug Payment Model has received significant backlash. Controversy continues to revolve around a nationwide experiment set to start in 2017 that will test different ways to slow spending on drugs from clinics, hospitals, physician’s offices, and cancer infusion centers, reported Kaiser Health News. The goal is to maintain quality while reducing spending by shifting towards value-based spending. However, many have lobbied against the proposal debating whether the plan gives government regulators too much power over drug prices. “(The drug industry’s) biggest nightmare is that the Obama administration decides to do something like reference pricing,” said Paul Heldman, an analyst with Heldman Simpson Partners. “Then the government would be making a decision that 2 products are similar and Medicare should reimburse at the rate of the lower-cost one.”

Nearly half of men with early-stage prostate cancer are choosing to opt out of all treatment, a drastic change from only 5 years ago where almost all patients opted for surgery or radiation. According to The New York Times, men are taking an active surveillance approach in which the cancer is untreated, but physicians are still regularly monitoring patients to make sure the cancer is not growing. Several years ago, only 10 to 15% of men with early-stage prostate cancer were being treated by active surveillance, however, approximately 40 to 50% of men are opting for this approach, according to national data from 3 independent sources.

The surge in popularity of zombie apocalypse-based entertainment has sparked controversy over Bioquark’s intentions to regenerate the nervous systems of 20 brain-dead patients, with some people fearing this could be the start of a zombie apocalypse, reported The Washington Post. “You wouldn't believe how many people have said, ‘Please don’t do this. You’re going to start the zombie apocalypse,’” said Ira Pastor, chief executive of Bioquark. Pastor said that changes in treatment will, at first, likely be subtle at the cellular level and become detectable only through sophisticated blood and spinal fluid testing, as well as MRI imaging. The project is controversial for varying reasons, including religious, moral, scientific, and economic concerns. In fact, hospitals may be forced to keep brain dead patients on life support indefinitely, causing insurers to go bankrupt and the organ donation system to come to a standstill. A protocol of the experiment lays out clear guidelines that families can opt out at any time during the project if they change their minds. “We want them to understand this is highly experimental,” Pastor said. “Although it represents a possibility, we don’t want to generate false hope.”