- A revised House bill that would overhaul federal regulation of prescription drugs and medical devices includes more funding for the National Institutes of Health, representing a compromise with Democrats who had withdrawn support for the bill. House Energy & Commerce Committee leaders circulated a discussion draft of the 21st Century Cures bill that would raise NIH funding to $31.8 billion in fiscal 2016 and $34.85 billion in fiscal 2018. Congress appropriated $30.3 billion for the NIH in fiscal 2015, and President Barack Obama requested $31.3 billion for fiscal 2016. However, Consumer watchdog Public Citizen called the NIH funding a horse trade, “providing perks to the pharmaceutical and medical-device industries to approve medications and devices faster based on weaker evidence.”
- Boston-based Partners HealthCare is notifying about 3,300 patients about a data breach. The system said it has been conducting an investigation since it learned in November that a group of its staffers received phishing e-mails and provided information in response. Such e-mails trick their targets into handing over passwords or clicking on links that install malicious programs. Partners says some correspondence contained patient information including names, addresses, dates of birth, phone numbers and Social Security numbers and clinical information such as diagnoses, treatments received and insurance information. The breach involved patients at Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women's Hospital and several other facilities.
- Medicare soon may pay for devices that generate e-mails and text messages for patients with speech impairments. The proposed policy change comes after the CMS came under fire last year from the Lou Gehrig's disease community for not covering devices adapted for non-speech uses such as e-mail and Internet access. Since 2001, Medicare has covered speech-generation devices for such patients. Those devices provide audible communication with people in close proximity to the patient. The proposal would expand Medicare coverage to include technology that produces written messages for remote communication.
Revised House bill to overhaul U.S. regulation of prescription drugs includes funding for NIH, and other news
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