Walmart and CVS sign multi-year PBM agreement, Apple helps veterans access their health records, and more.
1. Mumps confirmed in Houston
Houston health officials confirmed seven cases of mumps in the city’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility. All seven adults were detained during the virus’s infectious stage.
“Chances are that some of the folks did become infected while they were there because it’s like any other detention facility, you have a large number of people in a small area,” Houston Public Health Authority Dr. David Persse told KHOU. “We have very, very low levels of mumps in the United States, so while this number of seven is small, for this community, that’s an uptick so that’s one reason why it has our attention.”
Mumps is highly preventable with two doses of the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine. Children should receive their first dose between the ages of 12 to 15 months followed by a second dose between 4 to 6 years of age. The vaccine lasts for life.
2. Walmart and CVS sign multi-year PBM agreement
Walmart will continue participating in the CVS Caremark pharmacy benefit management (PBM) commercial and Managed Medicaid pharmacy networks. Both companies came to a multi-year agreement after an ongoing dispute about pricing.
“We are very pleased to have reached a mutually agreeable solution with Walmart,” said Derica Rice, President of CVS Caremark, the PBM business of CVS Health. “As a PBM, our top priority is to help our clients and consumers lower their pharmacy costs.”
Walmart representatives agreed. “We are pleased to have reached fair and equitable terms with CVS Caremark that are in the best interest of our customers, and we are glad our CVS Caremark customers will be able to continue saving money and living better,” said Sean Slovenski, Senior Vice President of Walmart Health and Wellness.
3. FDA slaps supplement makers on the wrist
Twelve sellers of dietary supplements should consider themselves warned. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advised them to stop claiming their products can cure everything from Alzheimer’s to cancer.
What’s more, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, FDA Commissioner, told Congress the agency must strengthen its authority over the $40 billion industry that peddles vitamins, minerals and herbal compounds. He’s most concerned about consumers opting for a supplement to treat a disease that needs medical intervention.
“People haven’t wanted to touch this framework or address this space in, really, decades, and I think it’s time we do it,” Dr. Gottlieb said. “We know there are effective therapies that can help patients with Alzheimer’s. But unproven supplements that claim to treat the disease but offer no benefits can prevent patients from seeking otherwise effective care.”
4. Apple app gives veterans access to health records
Apple and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs have partnered to help veterans gain easy access to their medical data. iPhone’s new health app allows more than 9 million veterans who receive care through the Veterans Health Administration to view their information.
“When patients have better access to their health information, they have more productive conversations with their physicians,” Apple COO Jeff Williams said. “By bringing health records on iPhone to VA patients, we hope veterans will experience improved healthcare that will enhance their lives.”
5. Fitbit’s new tracker not available to just anyone
You won’t get a chance to try out Inspire, Fitbit’s new activity and sleep tracker, unless your employer or health insurer is a Fitbit customer.
“These special-release trackers are available exclusively through Fitbit corporate, wellness, health plan and health systems partners and customers of their organizations, participants and members,” Fitbit states on its Inspire website.
Inspire is available to senior adults on Medicare plans and to UnitedHealth members.