Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.
Results from an early trial showed that 34% of patients with advanced melanoma who received the immunotherapy nivolumab (Opdivo) were alive 5 years after starting treatment, reported The Washington Post. This is the first long-term follow-up of survival from a trial that used an anti-PD-1 drug. The data revealed that Opdivo was able to double the survival rate that is typical for this disease. Patients who received other treatments between 2005 and 2011 had a 5-year survival rate of 16.6%.
Genetic testing came onto the scene in the late 1960s and has been in high demand since 2013. However, Kaiser Health News reported that the number of genetic counselors available is not expanding fast enough to keep up with the high demand, resulting in long waits to be tested. Over the past decade, the amount of genetic tests has exploded, with thousands of different genetic disorders that are testable. The genetic counselors are important because they provide help for patients to help better understand their results. “As genetic testing is growing and becoming more widely adopted by everyone for all sorts of different things, not just pregnancy, but cancer, heart disease, there is a disconnect,” Neha Kumar, chief product officer at Recombine and a trained genetic counselor, told Kaiser. “Who will actually interpret and provide those results to patients?”
Following UnitedHealth Group Inc’s decision to stop offering Affordable Care Act (ACA) plans in Arkansas and Georgia in 2017, Michigan has now been added to the growing list of states. The ACA created changes to health insurance markets, making it difficult for insurers to make a profit. Last year, the UnitedHealth group reported losses from these policies. Andrea Miller, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services, said the insurer planned to pull out of the individual insurance market in the state, reported The Wall Street Journal.