Healthcare Roundup—NYU Langone cancer center gifted $75M for blood cancer program

NYU Langone Medical Center
NYU Langone Health will establish a new center for blood cancers with the help of a $75 million gift from an anonymous donor. (NYU Langone)

Perlmutter Cancer Center Receives Anonymous $75 Million Gift

NYU Langone Health, and its Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Center, has received an anonymous $75 million to establish a new center for blood cancers.

The new center will house a program focused on multiple myeloma care and research, along with other blood cancer programs. It will also provide expanded educational resources for the NYU School of Medicine as well as lab space, cell processing, infusion and exam rooms to ensure efficient patient flow. (Release)

UnitedHealthcare pulls out of the Health Care Cost Institute 

UnitedHealthcare is leaving the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI), a research institute that uses claims data on nearly 50 million insured people. 

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UHC is one of four major payers contributing in-house data to the institute. The remaining members—Aetna, Humana and Kaiser Permanente—intend to continue on with the group, according to the announcement. 

HCCI and its research partners will still have access to its full data set, including the UHC claims through 2022. 

Niall Brennan, the institute’s CEO, said the group is sad to see UHC go but is proud of the work accomplished so far on research into bending the cost curve. (Announcement

Big increase in benzodiazepine prescribing by primary care doctors

Doctors—particularly primary care physicians—are writing many more prescriptions for benzodiazepines, a drug implicated in a growing number of overdose-related deaths, according to a study published in JAMA Network Open.

The percentage of ambulatory care visits that led to a benzodiazepine prescription almost doubled from 2003 to 2015 from 3.8% to 7.4%, according to the study. Primary care doctors wrote about half of those prescriptions. In addition to an increase in prescriptions, researchers found co-prescribing with other sedating medications. The study found benzodiazepine use rose substantially for indications other than anxiety and insomnia, including prescriptions to treat back pain and other types of chronic pain.

In light of increasing death rates associated with benzodiazepine overdose, addressing prescribing patterns may help curb the growing use of benzodiazepine, the researchers said. (JAMA Network Open)

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