At least 300 patients have acquired life-threatening infections linked to contaminated medical scopes—more than previously estimated by federal regulators. Between 2010 and 2015, more than 41 hospitals worldwide, most of them in the U.S., reported bacterial infections linked to the scopes, likely affecting a total of 300 to 350 patients, according to a memo from Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.). Last year, the Food and Drug Administration reported 142 patient infections from medical scopes made by Olympus Corp. and other companies. Lieu’s office obtained the updated figures from the FDA as part of an ongoing probe into “superbug” infections tied to the devices. The FDA came under fire early last year after several outbreaks at hospitals in Los Angeles and Seattle were linked to the scopes.
HCA Holdings, the parent company of Nashville-based HCA, has signed an agreement with Florida officials to drop three lawsuits. The suits relate to disputes over how much corporate income tax HCA paid to the state. Records from the attorney general’s office show that the settlement resolved tax payments running from 2001 to 2012. The state will not seek any further payments from HCA, while the hospital chain will drop its demands for refunds. Florida Gov. Rick Scott was once the CEO of Columbia/HCA, but he left the company in 1997 during a federal investigation into Medicare fraud.
U.S. spending on prescription drugs rose 8.5% last year, slightly less than in 2014, driven mainly by price hikes and growing use of costly new drugs. Data firm IMS Health estimated that patients, insurers and federal payers spent a combined $309.5 billion last year on prescription medicines. The IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics is forecasting that annual increases in U.S. prescription drug spending will slow to between 4% and 7% through 2020, after rising about 10% in each of the past three years. It predicts spending will reach $370 billion to $400 billion by 2020.