News Briefs: Week of Jan. 31-Feb. 4

February 02, 2011 02:55 pm News Staff

This roundup includes the following news briefs:

Triad Recall Prompts Another Safety Message

Last month's recall of alcohol prep pads manufactured by the Triad Group has led yet another pharmaceutical company to issue a safety message related to medication packaged with the recalled pads.

Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. said in a Jan. 10 news release( that the recalled pads -- which could expose patients to the pathogen Bacillus cereus -- may be included in packaging for its interferon beta-1b product, which is marketed as Extavia.

Novartis said in its news release that the drug product itself is not affected by Triad's recall, but the company emphasized that patients should not use the pads packaged with the medication and should instead use an alternative alcohol prep pad that is not subject to the recall or use a sterile gauze pad with isopropyl alcohol.

Pfizer Inc., Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals and Genentech Inc. have issued similar alerts to physicians and consumers because their products also were packaged with the recalled pads.

Meanwhile, the FDA issued a reminder to physicians( on Feb. 1 about the safe use of nonsterile alcohol prep pads to clean and disinfect skin.

Teaching Health Center Awards Boost Number of Primary Care Residents

Eleven teaching health centers have been awarded funds as part of the Teaching Health Center, or THC, Graduate Medical Education Program, a five-year program that will support an increased number of family medicine and other primary care medical residents, as well as dental residents, who train in community-based settings.

According to a Jan. 25 press release( from HHS' Health Resources and Services Administration, the funds, which total $1.9 million for the first year, were made available under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. With the funds, the THCs can seek additional primary care residents through the National Resident Matching Program.

The 2011 THCs and the amount of their awards are

  • Valley Consortium for Medical Education in Modesto, Calif. -- $625,000;
  • Family Residency of Idaho in Boise -- $37,500;
  • Northwestern McGaw Erie Family Health Center in Chicago -- $300,000;
  • Penobscot Community Health Center in Bangor, Maine -- $150,000;
  • Greater Lawrence Family Health Center in Lawrence, Mass. -- $112,500;
  • Montana Family Medicine Residency in Billings -- $37,500;
  • Institute for Family Health in New York City -- $150,000;
  • Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education in Scranton, Pa. -- $225,000;
  • Lone Star Community Health Center in Conroe, Texas -- $37,500;
  • Community Health of Central Washington in Yakima -- $75,000; and
  • Community Health Systems in Beckley, W.Va. -- $150,000.

South Carolina Plans Expansion of Healthy Connections Choices Program

The South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, or SCDHHS, plans to expand its Medicaid care-coordination plan, known as the Healthy Connections Choices Program( to about 80,000 beneficiaries who will then become eligible for extra benefits to promote healthy behaviors.

Eligible beneficiaries will be required to choose among several care-coordination plans. The state offers four managed-care organizations and a medical home network to Medicaid beneficiaries; more than 524,000 beneficiaries are already in one of the five programs, according to the SCDHHS.

The five programs offer the same benefits as traditional fee-for-service Medicaid but also provide extra benefits, including smoking cessation programs, unlimited physician visits and special programs for those with specific diseases, the department said.

Beneficiaries in traditional Medicaid will be asked to choose a plan, and if they fail to make a choice, the SCDHHS will choose a plan for them. The expansion will not apply to certain categories of Medicaid beneficiaries, such as those who receive Medicare benefits, Medicaid waiver enrollees, disabled children, foster children, and those residing in residential care facilities or long-term care facilities.