Healthcare Roundup—Memorial Sloan Kettering cancer doctor fails to disclose millions in payments

Memorial Sloan Kettering CMO fails to disclose millions in payments

The chief medical officer of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center—a physician who has a reputation as one of the foremost breast cancer researchers in the world—failed to disclose millions of dollars he was paid by drug and healthcare companies in recent years.

Reported by ProPublica in partnership with The New York Times, Dr. José Baselga said in an interview the omissions were unintentional. But experts interviewed for the report point out this is an example of weak enforcement of conflict-of-interest disclosures by medical journals. (ProPublica article)

'Gag clauses' measure advances in House

The House Energy and Commerce health subcommittee approved legislation to bar Medicare and private health plans from blocking pharmacists' ability to inform enrollees when a drug would cost less if they paid cash instead of using their insurance.

The measure is meant to address so-called "gag clauses" in some health insurance contracts.

The subcommittee also passed a draft bill to give the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, or MEDPAC—which advises Congress on Medicare issues—access to drug rebate information. (Washington Examiner article)

BCBS Tennessee halts OxyContin coverage

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee will stop covering OxyContin prescriptions beginning next year, according to the Tennessean.

Instead, the insurer will cover two other opioid pain relievers: Xtampza and Morphabond. BCBS Tennessee disclosed the change to insurance brokers on Thursday.

“We are not telling our physicians you cannot prescribe this. We are not telling our members you cannot receive this,” said Natalie Tate, BlueCross vice president of pharmacy. “We are just drawing a line that we will not continue to pay for this and we have alternatives we have now put into place.” (Tennessean)

Cigna issues $20B in senior bonds to fund Express Scripts purchase

Cigna is selling off $20 billion in senior bonds to fund its pending acquisition of Express Scripts.

The offering is another sign the insurer could be close to finalizing the deal.

Cigna issued senior notes in 10 parts on Thursday evening. The company plans to use the proceeds, along with cash and bank loans, to pay the cash portion of the acquisition along with any fees associated with the transaction and outstanding debt held by Express Scripts, according to a release. The offering comes just days after The Wall Street Journal reported antitrust regulators at the Department of Justice are close to finalizing the deal. (FierceHealthcare)