The tea leaves are swirlin’

We have journeyed to the Temple of Apollo at Delphi* to consult the Oracle(s) about the CVS/Aetna merger. What does it mean?

Health care business consultant David Williams: Who knows?

Sharona Hoffman, professor of health law and bioethics at Case Western Reserve University: Could be good (more negotiating power with drug companies), could be bad (mergers typically lead to higher costs). But maybe not all that groundbreaking:

[A] consolidation along the lines of a CVS/Caremark and Aetna merger would not be unprecedented. The nation’s largest health insurance company, United Healthcare, operates its own pharmacy benefits manager, OptumRx.

Health and group benefits pharmacy practice consultant Nadina J. Rosier: “[I]t will at least create an environment by which information can be shared and innovation can take place.”

B. Douglas Hoey, CEO of NCPA: “Given that many people change insurance plans frequently, ‘you may be bounced from kingdom to kingdom‘.”

David Dross, PBM expert at Mercer (the consultant, not the university): ‘Employers may be in a better position to demand guarantees about overall costs.’

David Mitchell, founder of Patients for Affordable Drugs: “They’re not doing this to provide better care to people. They’re doing this to make more money.”

* Flying coach

Patients taking Sorafenib?

If they’re taking it for an RAS-related cancer (lung, pancreatic, colorectal), they might benefit from taking an aspirin as well. A very early study on mice found that Sorafenib and aspirin seem to work well together, and might even require a lower dose of anti-cancer meds.

Something’s rotten

With the use of hydrochlorothiazide. The popular hypertension treatment seems to lead to an increase in skin cancer (we’re talking a seven-fold increase), according to research from Denmark:

“We found clear dose-response relationships between hydrochlorothiazide use and both [basal cell carcinoma] (BCC) and [squamous cell carcinoma] (SCC).”

J&J / Bayer fall to 3-1

The companies lost their first Xarelto lawsuit and have been ordered to pay $28 million.