Health Highlights: June 9, 2014

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Expansion of Drug Discount Program Struck Down by Judge

The Obama administration is reviewing a federal judge's decision to strike down a new rule requiring drug makers to offer certain medicines at discounted prices, but has not yet decided whether to appeal.

In his ruling issued in late May, Judge Rudolph Contreras said the White House had no authority to issue the rule and issued an injunction blocking the requirement, The New York Times reported.

The decision in a lawsuit filed by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America could provide a financial windfall to drug companies, according to federal officials.

"The court decision will have a devastating impact on rural hospitals and free-standing cancer hospitals, which will pay a lot more for expensive drugs," Ted Slafsky, the president of Safety Net Hospitals for Pharmaceutical Access, which represents hospitals participating in the drug discount program, told The Times.

Last week, the biotechnology company Genentech said it had halted discounts on some medicines sold to hospitals newly eligible for the program. Genentech is owned by Roche.

The drug industry said the White House was trying to stretch the Affordable Care Act to give more people discounts on more drugs, and that the rule was "inconsistent with the plain language of the statute," The Times reported.

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Protective Blanket Offers Tornado Defense: Company

A protective blanket could help shield students against flying debris when tornados strike or against bullets from handguns, according to the Oklahoma company that developed the product.

ProTecht's Bodyguard Blanket is 5/16 of an inch thick and has backpack-like straps that people use to put it on, and then take cover. The blanket became available about a week ago, the Associated Press reported.

The blanket features Dyneema, a high-density plastic that's used for ballistic armor and is lighter than Kevlar. The blankets cost $1,000 each, but buying one for each student would be a cheaper than building a tornado shelter, according to ProTecht.

"By no means would we ever say that this is more protective," blanket developer and company executive Steve Walker told the AP. "But when you have budget constraints, this might be a viable alternative."

Tests also showed that the blanket can protect against bullets from 9 mm and .22-caliber handguns.

Posted: June 2014


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