NIH Silences Clinical Trial's Critics

The National Institutes of Health, the U.S. government's premier health research agency, is refusing to allow two of its doctors to respond to government investigators looking into the quality of a continuing clinical trial of new blood-infection treatments on thousands of patients, according to NIH documents and multiple interviews.
 The resulting tensions within the NIH have pitted the office of the agency's director, Francis Collins, against an internal NIH committee of 24 scientists, who are raising questions over the freedom researchers are afforded to critique the work of colleagues.

U.S. Measles Cases Hit 25-Year High

This year is now the worst for measles in the U.S. in 25 years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Wednesday, as health officials continue to battle a large and growing outbreak in New York City that has also spawned flare-ups in other locales.
 The number of measles cases reached 695 in 22 states as of Wednesday afternoon, the CDC said, reflecting the difficulties of curbing domestic outbreaks of a highly contagious disease when cases internationally have risen and antivaccine sentiment has grown. That is the highest total since 1994, when 963 cases were reported.

Measles Cases Continue To Rise

The number of new U.S. measles cases climbed again last week, and health authorities are worried about a potential surge in cases after families travel for Passover.
 There were 626 cases of measles in 22 states as of April 19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Monday, 71 more than the previous week.
 At that rate, 2019 is on track by this week to become the worst year for measles in the U.S. since the disease was officially eliminated in 2000, meaning that it stopped circulating continuously.
 This year's total so far is 41 cases shy of the 667 cases reported in 2014.

Medicare to Offer Doctors New Ways of Getting Paid

The Trump administration is launching a program to offer new ways of paying primary care doctors, including flat monthly payments to physicians and higher payments for medical practices specializing in the chronically ill, as a way to lessen the costs of Medicare's usual fee-for-service system.
 Seema Verma, the Medicare administrator under President Trump, said the flat-fee method and other payment alternatives could be a path for the Medicare payment system to achieve better outcomes for patients instead of the current fee-for-service method that creates “perverse incentives to offer more care.”

Catalent Dives Into Gene Therapy With $1.2 Billion Deal

Contract drug manufacturer Catalent Inc. agreed to buy closely held Paragon Bioservices Inc. for $1.2 billion, according to people familiar with the matter, the latest deal in the emerging market for gene-therapy drugs.
 The all-cash deal, which is expected to be announced Monday morning, would help Catalent expand its gene-therapy manufacturing capabilities, the people said. The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter.

How Not to Get Sued

As a forensic pathologist and an expert at what kills people, I am frequently consulted by attorneys when a patient dies from a medical misdiagnosis or a therapeutic complication. Medical malpractice cases are contentious and drag on, sometimes taking years to resolve. The lawyers often know just as much medicine as the doctors -- and they do their homework, challenging my expertise and knowledge base with the goal of tripping me up until I concede something that will help them win. I have the advantage of coming in as an expert witness, an outside doctor who 

WellCare To Acquire Aetna Drug Plan Unit

Aetna Inc. said it agreed to sell its Medicare drug plan business to WellCare Health Plans Inc., as the company waits for its merger with CVS Health Corp. to be approved by federal and state officials The deal with WellCare will be effective at the end of this year, Aetna said in a regulatory filing Thursday, adding that “the purchase price is not material.”
 The announcement marks a significant step forward for CVS's planned acquisition of Aetna, a nearly $70 billion deal that will unite the third biggest health insurer with the drugstore and pharmacy-benefit company.

What These Medical Journals Don’t Reveal: Top Doctors’ Ties to Industry

One is dean of Yale’s medical school. Another is the director of a cancer center in Texas. A third is the next president of the most prominent society of cancer doctors.

These leading medical figures are among dozens of doctors who have failed in recent years to report their financial relationships with pharmaceutical and health care companies when their studies are published in medical journals, according to a review by The New York Times and ProPublica and data from other recent research.

Gunman Kills Chicago Emergency Physician, Two Others

CHICAGO -- Physicians were outraged after two hospital employees -- including a physician and a pharmacy resident -- and a police officer were killed Monday in a shooting here at Mercy Hospital, according to news reports.

"The city of Chicago lost a doctor, a pharmaceutical assistant, and a police officer, all going about their day, all doing what they loved," Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in an announcement. "This tears at the soul of our city."