May 9, 2012
IN THIS ISSUE
Senate Investigating 10 Professional Organizations and Pharmaceutical Companies
WASHINGTON -- The Senate Finance Committee today sent letters to 10 professional organizations and pharmaceutical companies seeking to clarify the extent of the financial connections between manufacturers of opioid painkillers and the promotion of their use in chronic pain. Quoting the MedPage Today/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel series directly, the letter asks for a detailed account of payments made by or on behalf of pharmaceutical companies to aid in development of "a body of dubious information" favoring opioids.
Opinion: A Gathering Storm of Federal Regulations
A storm is brewing, and many physicians are worried that they won't be able to batten down the hatches in time.
Physicians are right in the center of the paths of multiple, colliding fronts in the form of more federal requirements, in particular under the Medicare program. The sheer size and timing of the increased regulatory burdens are raising serious concerns that some practices will founder when those rules hit them.
Preparing for just one of these new requirements is a significant undertaking for a physician practice, especially a small one. Upcoming requirements that doctors adopt and use electronic health records systems, prescribe medications electronically, report quality information to the government, and upgrade their claims reporting systems each demand significant time and resources that are hard to come by for many practices.
Dr. Kloth to Present Platelet Rich Plasma Webinar May 14
Dr. David Kloth, Medical Director of Connecticut Pain Care and Immediate Past President of ASIPP will be presenting a webinar at 6 pm and 9 pm EST Monday, May 14 on the Clinical Applications of Platelet Rich Plasma.
The 45-minute session will feature
- Overview of basic science and literature
- Common diagnoses and clinical indications
- Optimal platelet concentration & technique tips
- Patient case studes
- Q & A time
Register for the 6 pm est webinar at:
Register for the 9 pm EST webinar at
The meeting is sponsored by RS Medical.
Abbott Labs to Pay $1.6B for Off-Label Drug Promotion
WASHINGTON - Abbott Laboratories, a global healthcare company, has agreed to pay $1.6 billion to settle allegations that it improperly marketed its neurological drug, Depakote, for off-label uses.
Abbott will pay $800 million to federal and state governments to settle civil allegations, a $700 million criminal penalty and $100 million to resolve consumer protection matters. In a statement released by the Department of Justice, the agency said that this resolution is the second largest payment by a drug company.
"(Monday's) settlement demonstrates our continued scrutiny of the sales and marketing practices of pharmaceutical companies that put profits ahead of patient health," said U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, MD, in the DOJ's statement. "The FDA will continue its due diligence and hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for marketing practices that undermine the drug approval process."
Healthcare Finance News
Medicare Modifies Ordering, Referring Rules for Physicians
Washington Medicare claims involving referrals for specialty care would be spared extra scrutiny under billing and enrollment rules published by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on April 24.
CMS finalized requirements that have been in development for three years. It calls for all physicians and other health professionals billing Medicare to be signed up for the program through its Provider Enrollment, Chain and Ownership System, known as PECOS.
The final rule made several changes advocated by the American Medical Association and specialty medical societies, which had warned that proposed Medicare enrollment requirements would negatively impact physicians and the patients they serve. Those requested changes included delaying the enforcement of the new requirements indefinitely and making the PECOS mandate less strict.
High School Kids Report Early Pain Pill Abuse
Most young people who misuse prescription painkillers said they began doing so before they reached their senior year of high school, researchers found.
An estimated 3% of kids in a national survey were classified as newly incident users and said they started using these drugs at age 16, the highest proportion among all age groups in the study, James Anthony, PhD, of Michigan State University in East Lansing, and colleagues reported online in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.
"We suspect that many physicians ... will share our surprise that for youth in the United States, the peak risk of starting extramedical use of prescription pain relievers generally occurs before the final year of high school, not during the [college] years," they wrote.
State's Largest Health Insurer (BC/BS of Massachusetts) Launches New Prescription Drug Initiative
The drug problem in Charlestown-and Boston as a whole-is well documented, and foremost at the top of the list of widely abused substances are prescription painkillers.
Drugs such as Oxycontin, Percocet and Vicodin, normally used to treat severe pain, have become nearly as prevalent on the streets as cocaine and heroin, and Massachusetts' largest health insurer has seen enough.
According to the Boston Globe, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts is launching a policy to curb abuse by limiting the amount of pain medication patients can receive without prior approval from the insurer.
Chronic Pain Rates Shoot Up Until Americans Reach Late 50s
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- More than one-third of Americans in their mid-50s and older have chronic pain in their neck or back, and a similar percentage report chronic knee or leg pain. Further, more than one in five adults in their late 40s through late 80s has some other type of recurring pain. Chronic pain conditions increase rapidly from about ages 25 to 60, after which reports of chronic pain increase only slightly or decrease.
These findings are based on 2011 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index daily tracking data, encompassing surveys with more than 353,000 U.S. adults, aged 18 and older. The resulting sample sizes for every five-year age group -- ranging from roughly 2,800 to 47,000 cases -- allow for a granular look at how chronic pain progresses as Americans age.
The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index measures the prevalence of chronic pain by asking respondents if they have a neck or back condition, a knee or leg condition, or another condition that caused recurring pain in the last 12 months.
Vt. Lawmakers Debate Drug Data Access by Police
MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - Gov. Peter Shumlin in his State of the State address in January cited an "epidemic" of prescription drug abuse in Vermont as justification for allowing police to get access without search warrants to a Health Department database that tracks the medicines Vermont doctors are prescribing for their patients.
Shumlin said his aim was to give "law enforcement the tools they need to track down abusive access so we can fight our prescription drug epidemic. This growing problem is so frightening because while FDA-approved prescription opiates are easy to get, many are just as addicting and dangerous as street heroin and crack cocaine."
With debate over no-warrant police access to the database coming to a head as the legislative session winds down in Montpelier, critics are questioning the severity of the problem and whether it justifies what they see as an erosion of privacy rights granted by the U.S. and Vermont constitutions.
IOM: FDA Needs Safety Tracking Upgrade
WASHINGTON -- The FDA needs a better system to monitor the safety of drugs after they've been approved, an Institute of Medicine (IOM) panel concluded.
Although the FDA has recently made progress in monitoring the safety of drugs after they hit the market, the agency needs to be just as focused on post-approval data for newly approved drugs as it is for the pre-approval clinical trial data, the panel wrote in a report it released Tuesday.
The agency should adopt a systematic method to determine which type of follow-up each drug it approves will require post-approval, and then closely track the data so it can easily spot safety signals early on, the report said. The panel was co-chaired by Ruth Faden, PhD, MPH, of Johns Hopkins University and Steven Goodman, MD, PhD, of Stanford University.
1 Doc in 5 Reports Being Stalked
PHILADELPHIA -- More than 20% of surveyed physicians said they had been stalked by a patient or former patient at some point, a researcher said here.
Among nearly 600 physicians at two Pennsylvania hospitals, 123 reported that a patient had, on at least three occasions, performed one or more stalking behaviors such as loitering near them, making unwanted phone calls to them, or damaging their property, said Kathleen C. Dougherty, MD, of Penn State University Medical Center in Hershey, Pa.
One physician in the survey told Dougherty that he had had a loaded gun put to his head by one patient -- but that wasn't the worst stalker he had encountered.
Disease More Apt to Kill than CT Scan Radiation
CT scans confer a miniscule risk of death from secondary cancers in young adults compared with the risk of death from primary diseases, investigators reported.
Young patients who had chest or abdominopelvic CT had a 35-fold greater risk of death from underlying disease than from CT-associated cancers.
The finding came from an analysis of 23,359 patients ages 18 to 35, some of whom underwent as many as 15 CT scans, Rob Zondervan, of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, reported at the American Roentgen Ray Society meeting in Vancouver.
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State Society News
FSIPP Annual Meeting Dates May 18-20, 2012
The Florida Society of Interventional Pain Physicians has set the date for their next annual meeting for May 18-20, 2012 at the Gaylord Palms, Orlando, FL.
Read more about the meeting and other activities going on in the state of Florida in their newsletter. Click HERE to read latest issue.
For a complete look at the May meeting schedule and CME information, click HERE
CASIPP Annual Meeting Dates Nov. 9-11, 2012
Go to www.casipp.com for more information.
The California Society of Interventional Pain Physicians Annual Meeting of the will be Nov. 9 -11, 2012 at the Pelican Hill Resort in Newport Beach, CA.