KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Medicare Changes Appear To Be Driving Reduced Used Of Dialysis Drugs

The Washington Post reports on a new study, which finds Food and Drug Administration warnings did not cause a sharp drop in the use of these drugs.

The Washington Post: Medicare Changes, Not FDA Warning, Seem To Have Curtailed Use Of Dialysis Drugs, Study Finds
In March 2007, the Food and Drug Administration issued a stern "black box" warning regarding the anemia drugs commonly prescribed to dialysis patients: The popular drugs, known as ESAs, could increase the risk of heart attacks, stroke, blood clots and death. But according to a new paper by researchers who studied the use of the drugs for months before and after the warning, the FDA's black box "did not appear to influence ESA prescribing among the overall dialysis population." Instead, the use of the drugs continued a slow, steady decline rather than taking a sharp drop, according to the paper (Whoriskey, 8/14).

Meanwhile, Medicare also just celebrated another anniversary -

The Lund Report: Medicare, Medicaid Anniversary Raises Fears, Hopes For Future
The end of July marked the 48th anniversary of the signing of the Social Security Act which turned Medicare and Medicaid into law. Now – with talk of Medicare becoming a voucher program, and threats to Medicaid, Social Security and other entitlements – local activists (in Portland, Ore.) are fighting to protect the program and potentially to expand it (McCurdy, 8/14).

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