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Daily Recap: Lifestyle vs. genes in breast cancer showdown; Big pharma sues over insulin affordability law


Here are the stories our MDedge editors across specialties think you need to know about today:

Lifestyle choices may reduce breast cancer risk regardless of genetics

A “favorable” lifestyle was associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer even among women at high genetic risk for the disease in a study of more than 90,000 women, researchers reported.

The findings suggest that, regardless of genetic risk, women may be able to reduce their risk of developing breast cancer by getting adequate levels of exercise; maintaining a healthy weight; and limiting or eliminating use of alcohol, oral contraceptives, and hormone replacement therapy.

“These data should empower patients that they can impact on their overall health and reduce the risk of developing breast cancer,” said William Gradishar, MD, who was not invovled with the study. Read more.

Primary care practices may lose $68K per physician this year

Primary care practices stand to lose almost $68,000 per full-time physician this year as COVID-19 causes care delays and cancellations, researchers estimate. And while some outpatient care has started to rebound to near baseline appointment levels, other ambulatory specialties remain dramatically down from prepandemic rates.

Dermatology and rheumatology visits have recovered, but some specialties have cumulative deficits that are particularly concerning. For example, pediatric visits were down by 47% in the 3 months since March 15, and pulmonology visits were down 45% in that time.

This primary care estimate is without a potential second wave of COVID-19, noted Sanjay Basu, MD, director of research and population health at Collective Health in San Francisco, and colleagues.

“We expect ongoing turbulent times, so having a prospective payment could unleash the capacity for primary care practices to be creative in the way they care for their patients,” Daniel Horn, MD, director of population health and quality at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, said in an interview. Read more.

Big pharma sues to block Minnesota insulin affordability law

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association (PhRMA) is suing the state of Minnesota in an attempt to overturn a law that requires insulin makers to provide an emergency supply to individuals free of charge.

In the July 1 filing, PhRMA’s attorneys said the law is unconstitutional. It “order[s] pharmaceutical manufacturers to give insulin to state residents, on the state’s prescribed terms, at no charge to the recipients and without compensating the manufacturers in any way.”

The state has estimated that as many as 30,000 Minnesotans would be eligible for free insulin in the first year of the program. The drugmakers strenuously objected, noting that would mean they would “be compelled to provide 173,800 monthly supplies of free insulin” just in the first year.

“There is nothing in the U.S. Constitution that prevents states from saving the lives of its citizens who are in imminent danger,” said Mayo Clinic hematologist S. Vincent Rajkumar, MD. “The only motives for this lawsuit in my opinion are greed and the worry that other states may also choose to put lives of patients ahead of pharma profits.” Read more.

Despite guidelines, kids get opioids & steroids for pneumonia, sinusitis

A significant percentage of children receive opioids and systemic corticosteroids for pneumonia and sinusitis despite guidelines, according to an analysis of 2016 Medicaid data from South Carolina.

Prescriptions for these drugs were more likely after visits to EDs than after ambulatory visits, researchers reported in Pediatrics.

“Each of the 828 opioid and 2,737 systemic steroid prescriptions in the data set represent a potentially inappropriate prescription,” wrote Karina G. Phang, MD, MPH, of Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pa., and colleagues. “These rates appear excessive given that the use of these medications is not supported by available research or recommended in national guidelines.” Read more.

Study supports changing classification of RCC

The definition of stage IV renal cell carcinoma (RCC) should be expanded to include lymph node–positive stage III disease, according to a population-level cohort study published in Cancer.

While patients with lymph node–negative stage III disease had superior overall survival at 5 years, survival rates were similar between patients with node–positive stage III disease and stage IV disease. This supports reclassifying stage III node-positive RCC to stage IV, according to researchers.

“Prior institutional studies have indicated that, among patients with stage III disease, those with lymph node disease have worse oncologic outcomes and experience survival that is similar to that of patients with American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) stage IV disease,” wrote Arnav Srivastava, MD, of Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, New Brunswick, and colleagues. Read more.

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