HPM Faculty News

Pittsburgh finds current liver allocation system disadvantages children awaiting liver transplants

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ASPPH FRIDAY LETTER - Children are at a considerable disadvantage when competing with adults for livers from deceased organ donors in the U.S. allocation system. “Using national, long-term data, our report is the first to demonstrate that the scoring system, on its own, dramatically underestimates the risk of death in the next 90 days and, thereby, disadvantages children," says HPM chair MARK ROBERTS.  

Changing dynamics of the drug overdose epidemic in the United States from 1979 through 2016

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SCIENCE - In an effort to understand the epidemic dynamics and perhaps predict its future course, Pitt Public Health researchers analyzed records of nearly 600,000 overdose deaths. Dean DONALD BURKE, HPM's HAWRE JALAL, and colleagues concluded that the U.S. drug overdose epidemic has been inexorably tracking along an exponential growth curve since at least 1979.   

Roberts and colleagues investigate how adjusting for additional clinical and social patient characteristics affects hospital readmission rates

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HEALIO - According to a new study, when adjusting for additional clinical and social variables, hospital variation in readmission rates are reduced. “In several pay-for-performance programs, Medicare ties payments to readmission rates but accounts only for a limited set of patient characteristics — and no measures of social risk — when assessing performance of health care providers,” said HPM's ERIC ROBERTS, and colleagues.  

HSLS new program includes FRED

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The Health Sciences Library System has created a new program called Spotlight Series: Software Developed @ Pitt. This program focuses on software developed by Pitt health sciences researchers. DAVID SINCLAIR, PHDL post-doctoral researcher/programmer, will present at the first session on “FRED: A versatile Framework for Modeling Infectious Diseases and Other Health Conditions.”   

Children lose out on liver transplants, Pitt Public Health study finds

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NBC - Children who need lifesaving liver transplants are losing out to adults. A system used to determine who is most in need of a transplant significantly underestimates the risk of death for younger children with liver disease, a Pitt Public Health study found. Senior author and HPM chair, MARK ROBERTS, said, "pediatric transplant physicians have long recognized the scoring system isn’t adequate when comparing children to adults."  

Gellad on debate about CVS' use of ICER metrics

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BIOPHARMA DIVE - More than 90 organizations, predominantly patient groups, criticized CVS Caremark's decision last month to incorporate value-based drug pricing analyses in some of its coverage choices, urging the company to reconsider in a Sept. 12 letter addressed to CVS CEO Larry Merlo. HPM's WALID GELLAD told BioPharma Dive that the actual action being debated may not be so severe.  

Gellad comments on benefits that could come from the Senate opioid response vote

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POLITICO - The Senate is expected to pass a sweeping opioid crisis response package this week, paving the way for a final agreement between the two chambers. Even without direct savings, patients could benefit from lowered costs of hospital-administered drugs if the hospitals use that money to increase other services, says HPM’s Walid F. Gellad, head of Pitt's Center for Pharmaceutical Policy and Prescribing.  

Gellad comments on top cancer researcher who failed to disclose corporate financial ties in major research journals

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NEW YORK TIMES - One of the world’s top breast cancer doctors failed to disclose millions of dollars in payments from drug and health care companies, omitting financial ties from research articles in prestigious publications like The New England Journal of Medicine and The Lancet. HPM’s Walid F. Gellad, head of Pitt's Center for Pharmaceutical Policy and Prescribing, said, “If leaders don’t follow the rules, then we don’t really have rules."  

Gellad on Scott Gottlieb's upending FDA communication

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BIOPHARMA DRIVE - Scott Gotlieb, FDA commissioner, has been very vocal on twitter as a way to communicate the FDA's goals and to invite public comment and scrutiny. Stakeholders both inside and outside the agency have given Gottlieb credit for both transparency and effort. ButWalid Gellad, HPM faculty member and head of Pitt's Center for Pharmaceutical Policy and Prescribing, said there are risks to the volume and pace of Gottlieb's methods.  

Kahn speaks on the one percent solution that could help tame health care spending

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NEW YORK TIMES - A group of economists is suggesting that many small tweaks, such as reigning in long-term care hospitals, could tame health care spending. HPM's JEREMY KAHN said there are some patients with particular ailments who benefit from the setting, but agreed with the economists that the hospitals are a historical accident, defined more by payment rules than patient needs.  

Roberts on new Trump administration policy that could hurt PA's health insurance marketplace

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WESA-FM - A new health insurance rule from the Trump administration is being criticized by the Pennsylvania Insurance Department. The policy would jeopardize those who buy health insurance on the individual market. "If only sick people enter the individual market place, premiums become completely unaffordable," said HPM's ERIC ROBERTS.    

Gellad comments on potential conflicts of interests on Medicaid drug committees

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NPR - The governor of Arizona removed a doctor from the state's Medicaid drug committee and issued an executive order requiring disclosure of financial conflicts in response to a joint investigation. HPM's Walid Gellad, director of Pitt's Center for Pharmaceutical Policy and Prescribing, says disclosing financial ties should be standard practice, especially for people serving on decision-making boards. "At least they can be out in the open."   

Gellad comments on Trump’s plan to bring down drug prices

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STAT NEWS - Over the past week, the Trump administration has begun to clarify their proposals to lower drug prices. “They’re clearly still in early stages – a plan is still a plan, and a proposed rule can be a proposed rule for a long time, and a workgroup is just a workgroup,” said HPM’s Walid Gellad, who also serves as head of Pitt's Center for Pharmaceutical Policy and Prescribing. “But we’re ahead of where we were six months ago.”  

Gellad comments as Merck joins the list of drug makers agreeing to freeze or lower some prices

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STAT NEWS - As political pressure on the pharmaceutical industry builds, Merck has become the latest big drug maker to commit to halting price hikes. In a brief statement, the company agreed not to increase the average net prices of its medicines by more than inflation annually. “We’re now seeing an effort to address pricing that we haven’t seen before,” said HPM's Walid Gellad, head of Pitt's Center for Pharmaceutical Policy and Prescribing.  

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