Coalition seeks more transparent pharmacy benefits managers

Several national organizations have established the Coalition for PBM Reform, which seeks to alter the way pharmacy benefit managers operate to better serve patients, pharmacies and businesses.

The group stems from a common concern among patient advocates, doctors, pharmacies and small business groups that spread pricing, patient steering, and other PBM practices restrict access to drugs and increase costs, said Douglas Hoey, CEO of the National Community Pharmacists Association, one of the participating groups.

“We want others to understand the oversized influence that PBMs have and why they have such an influence in how prescription drugs are paid for and which ones are covered,” Hoey said.

Other coalition members include the Community Oncology Alliance, the Coalition of State Rheumatology Organizations, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, The Food Industry Association and the National Federation of Independent Business.

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Transparency and accountability

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Is hand sanitizer safe and effective for children?

by Dr. Kevin C. Osterhoudt

Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

Q: My family has been using a lot of hand sanitizer during the pandemic. Is there anything harmful in it?

A: Washing hands with soap and for at least 20 seconds is the best way for children to get rid of germs, including COVID-19. If soap and water are not available, children can use with at least 60% . However, swallowing hand sanitizer can cause poisoning in children, so be careful with it.

The American Academy of Pediatrics urges parents to keep hand sanitizers out of children’s reach. Don’t forget about travel-size bottles of sanitizer in purses, diaper bags, backpacks and cars. Parents and caregivers also should supervise children who are 5 and younger when they use hand sanitizer.

Many hand sanitizers are made with alcohol or rubbing alcohol (ethanol, ethyl alcohol, or isopropanol, isopropyl alcohol).

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Boosters start, even as millions remain unprotected

The U.S. launched a campaign to offer boosters of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to millions of Americans on Friday even as federal health officials stressed the real problem remains getting first shots to the unvaccinated.

“We will not boost our way out of this pandemic,” warned Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — even though she took the rare step of overruling the advice of her own expert panel to make more people eligible for the booster.

The vast majority of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are among the unvaccinated, Walensky noted. And all three COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. offer strong protection against severe illness, hospitalization and death despite the extra-contagious delta variant that caused cases to soar. But immunity against milder infection appears to wane months after initial vaccination.

People anxious for another Pfizer dose lost no time rolling up their sleeves after Walensky

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UK counts on vaccines, ‘common sense’ to keep virus at bay

In this May 1, 2021, file photo, Maoula Jan, 52, receives his second dose of the Pfizer vaccine for coronavirus from volunteer Steve Kriss, at a vaccine center in the Swaminarayan School in Neasden, north London. Britain’s Conservative government is hoping a combination of relatively high vaccination rates and common-sense behavior will keep a lid on coronavirus infections this fall and winter and avoid the need for restrictive measures. Credit: AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File

Britons are encouraged these days—though in most cases not required—to wear face coverings in crowded indoor spaces. But Prime Minister Boris Johnson regularly appears in the packed, poorly ventilated House of Commons cheek-by-jowl with other maskless Conservative lawmakers.

For critics, that image encapsulates the flaw in the government’s strategy, which has abandoned most pandemic restrictions and is banking on voluntary restraint and a high vaccination rate to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

As winter approaches,

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Providers have unanswered questions ahead of COVID-19 grant reporting deadline

For some healthcare providers, meeting next week’s deadline for reporting on their federal COVID-19 grant spending is shaping up to be a mad scramble.

Accountants helping providers get ready for the Sept. 30 deadline to report on the first tranche of Provider Relief Fund spending say even those who’ve been prepared for weeks have legitimate questions about how to move forward. Congress approved $178 billion to help providers weather the unprecedented crisis, but many in the healthcare industry say the Health and Human Services Department’s guidance on how to account for that money has been confusing and unclear.

For the most part, those that are “entirely unprepared” tend to be smaller and don’t view themselves as big enough to have to report to the government, said Anna Stevens, partner-in-charge for healthcare at the accounting firm Weaver. Providers that spent more than $10,000 in grant money must report that to HHS,

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Israel says US booster plan supports its own aggressive push

A 14-year-old Israeli receives a booster shot of the coronavirus vaccine at Clalit Health Service’s center in the Cinema City complex in Jerusalem, Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021. Israel is pressing ahead with its aggressive campaign of offering coronavirus boosters to almost anyone over 12 and says its approach was further vindicated by a U.S. decision to give the shots to older patients or those at higher risk. Credit: AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo

Israel is pressing ahead with its aggressive campaign of offering coronavirus boosters to almost anyone over 12 and says its approach was further vindicated by a U.S. decision to give the shots to older patients or those at higher risk.

Israeli officials credit the shot, which has already been delivered to about a third of the population, with helping suppress the country’s latest wave of COVID-19 infections. They say the differing approaches are based on the same realization

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