News in Brief: Week of Dec. 2-6

December 04, 2013 04:45 pm News Staff

This roundup includes the following news briefs:

FDA Warns of Serious Skin Reactions Seen With Use of Anti-seizure Drug

After identifying nearly two dozen cases of Stevens-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis in patients who had used the anti-seizure medication clobazam (Onfi), FDA officials have approved(www.fda.gov) updated package labeling for the product that includes a statement in the Warnings and Precautions section describing the risk for serious skin reactions. Similar information also has been added to the Medication Guide given to patients who receive the drug.

All of the cases the agency investigated resulted in hospitalization, one case caused blindness, and one patient died.

According to an FDA safety communication(www.fda.gov), these rare skin reactions can occur at any time during clobazam treatment, but the likelihood of skin reactions is highest during the first eight weeks of treatment or when clobazam is stopped and then restarted.

Adverse effects that may be related to use of this drug can be reported via RxEvent, an adverse drug event reporting service that has partnered with the AAFP, or MedWatch(www.accessdata.fda.gov), the FDA's Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program.

Small Business Owners Have Access to Insurance Options for Employees

Family physicians and other small business owners with fewer than 50 employees can shop for health insurance for their employees through the federal government's Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP).

According to information HHS recently posted online(www.hhs.gov), even though the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act does not require small business owners to offer health insurance to their employees, SHOP marketplaces are available in every state. Some of these programs are run by the states and others by the federal government.

Businesses can buy health insurance for their employees year-round, but to ensure coverage by the first of the year, enrollment must take place by Dec. 15 in state-run SHOP marketplaces and by Dec. 23 for federally facilitated SHOP marketplaces.

For more information on SHOP marketplaces, including available tax credits, visit www.HealthCare.gov(www.healthcare.gov) or call the SHOP employer call center at (800) 706-7893 Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. EST.

Commonwealth Fund Adds New Brief to Health Reform Series

The Commonwealth Fund has added a new document brief to its free online publication series Health Reform and You(www.commonwealthfund.org). The series launched in June to explore how current health care reform efforts affect patients, health care professionals and the country as a whole.

The second addition to the series is titled "Better Care at Lower Cost: Is it Possible?"(www.commonwealthfund.org) The brief outlines the skyrocketing cost of U.S. health care and compares those dollars spent -- and services provided -- to medical expenditures in other countries.

The report focuses on some new methods of payment and describes how accountable care organizations, global payments, bundled payments and other payment innovations can lower the overall cost of U.S. health care.


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