Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.
Despite the release of lifesaving drugs that cure the hepatitis C virus (HCV), new cases continue to spike due to heroin use and other injection drugs, according to US health officials. A newly released CDC report shows that the national rate of HCV infection in 2015 was 0.8 per 100,000 persons with nearly 34,000 new cases. The CDC conducted a state-by-state analysis of reported HCV cases, and reviewed laws related to clean needle programs, according to the New York Times. The analysis showed that HCV rates exceeded the national average in 17 states. Furthermore, only Massachusetts, New Mexico, and Washington had in place a comprehensive set of laws and a permissive Medicaid treatment policy to provide services for injection drug users that prevent the spread of HCV. There were 24 states with policies in place that required a certain period of sobriety before receiving HCV treatment through Medicaid, the NY Times reported. There were 18 states that had no needle exchange programs, but Maine, Nevada, and Utah have the most comprehensive laws pertaining to prevention, such as syringe exchange programs with no sobriety limitations.
After 18 months, Brazil has declared an end to its Zika public health emergency, according to The Washington Post. In response to the 2015 Zika virus outbreak, Brazil’s Health Ministry created a mosquito-eradication campaign that helped dramatically reduce cases. From January through mid-April this year, there were 95% fewer cases than during the same period last year, the Post reported. Furthermore, there was also a decrease in the incidence of microcephaly, a defect that causes babies to be born with smaller than average skulls. Although the public emergency has been lifted, officials warn that fighting the disease is still an ongoing challenge. “The end of the emergency doesn’t mean the end of surveillance or assistance [to affected families],” said Adeilson Cavalcante, secretary for health surveillance, Health Ministry, as reported by the Post. “The Health Ministry and other organizations involved in this area will maintain a policy of fighting Zika, dengue, and chikungunya.”
A Delaware judge has denied Anthem’s request of a 60-day preliminary injunction that would block Cigna Corp from terminating a proposed merger deal between the health insurance giants, according to The Washington Post. Last month, a federal appeals court upheld the decision to block Anthem’s bid to buy Cigna, citing that it would not be better for consumers. Anthem was seeking more time for approval of the merger while it pursued an appeal in the Supreme Court.