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Health Highlights: Sept. 7, 2017

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

Senate Holds First Health Care Hearing Since Failed Repeal Attempt

The U.S. Senate on Wednesday held its first health care hearing since it's failed attempt in July to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

At the hearing, state health insurance commissioners said Congress needs to pass a bipartisan bill to help stabilize the health insurance market, CBS News reported.

The next two weeks will be "particularly telling" because insurers will be making their final decisions about participation in the marketplace, Mark Kreidler, Washington state's insurance commissioner, told lawmakers.

September 20 is the deadline for insurance companies to finalize their insurance rate filings, CBS News reported.

Lawmakers need to take "one small step on a big issue that's been locked in a partisan stalemate for 7 years," said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee.


Company Alleged to Have Faked Patients to Boost Cancer Drug Sales

Insys Therapeutics faked cancer patients in order to boost sales of its drug Subsys, a sprayable form of the opioid painkiller fentanyl, according to a federal indictment and ongoing congressional investigation by Sen. Claire McCaskill.

Subsys was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2012 to treat acute pain in cancer patients. But the drug's high cost meant most insurers wouldn't pay for it unless it was approved in advance, CNN reported.

In order to increase sales, it's alleged that Insys took patients who didn't have cancer and made it look like they did. Methods included falsifying medical records, misleading insurance companies and providing kickbacks to doctors, according to a report released Wednesday by McCaskill's office. McCaskill is a Democrat from Missouri.

In a statement provided to CNN on Wednesday, Insys said it disagreed with "certain characterizations in the staff report released today."

Late last year, federal prosecutors criminally charged the company's former CEO and five other executives with fraud and racketeering charges related to Subsys.

Other federal charges have also been brought against individuals connected to the drug, and several state attorneys general have filed lawsuits of their own, CNN reported.

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Posted: September 2017