Medicare: Solvent until 2029? (Morning Read)

Highlights of the important and the interesting from the world of healthcare:

Medicare: Solvent until 2029? The annual report from Medicare’s trustees says the program has enough money to be solvent until 2029–an improvement of 12 years over last year’s report–thanks mainly to savings contained in this year’s controversial health reform law. Sounds good, but the 2029 number comes with an asterisk bigger than the one by Barry Bonds’ home run record. The savings projections are based on lower Medicare rates that the trustees admit may not be realistic in the future.

Lilly’s folly: Eli Lilly let a potentially billion-dollar drug–telaprevir, a hepatitis treatement–slip through its fingers in 2002 when it gave away most of its stake in the drug to Massachusetts-based Vertex. Now, after a promising phase 3 trial, Vertex has built up a $7  billion valuation largely on the strength of the drug.

Verizon to the rescue: Verizon says it’ll roll out a communications network for health organizations that’ll help get past the biggest hurdle to health information exchanges–interoperability. The cloud-based service will allow health care organizations to send and receive information regardless of what platform the data were created on or where they are stored, the company promises.


All quiet on the Genzyme front: The big talk in biotech circles lately has been a possible sale of Genzyme to Sanofi-Aventis, and the  $18 billion price Genzyme could bring. But after a week of leaks to the press, this week has been relatively calm, with little anonymously sourced news to move the story forward.

Palliative care in the ER: Slate explores the movement to make emergency rooms a little more friendly to the seriously ill and dying. “Doctors like Tammie Quest, board-certified in both palliative and emergency medicine, hope to bring the deliberative goal-setting, symptom-controlling ethos of palliative care into the adrenaline-charged, ‘tube ’em and move ’em’ ER.”

Dealflow: Connecticut-based  Ikonisys grabs $3.8 million for cell-based diagnostics; California-based Alexza Pharmaceuticals plans to raise $18 million in a stock sale.

Photo from flickr user alancleaver_2000

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