News in Brief: Week of Feb. 13-17

February 15, 2012 05:00 pm News Staff

This roundup includes the following news briefs:

More Than 21 Percent of EHR 'Meaningful Users' Are Family Docs

A new data set available from CMS analyzes the distribution of certified electronic health record (EHR) vendors and products among health care professionals and other providers who have attested to meaningful use as part of CMS' EHR incentive programs. The data set is available for download( (select the box below "External Link" on the right) and can be analyzed by state, provider type, provider specialty and practice setting.

Jason Mitchell, M.D., assistant director for the AAFP's Center for Health IT, sorted the data by physician specialty, looking specifically for family medicine. Mitchell found that 7,700 of the 36,000 providers who have attested to meaningful use -- or 21.3 percent -- are family physicians.

$4.1 Billion Recovered in Health Care Fraud Efforts in 2011

According to a Feb. 14 news release( issued jointly by HHS and the Department of Justice, the federal government's health care fraud prevention and enforcement efforts recovered nearly $4.1 billion in fiscal year 2011, the highest annual amount ever recovered.

The findings were included in the Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control Program's annual report( for fiscal year 2011.

The release of information about the report and its contents coincides with CMS' announcement of a proposed rule aimed a collecting overpayments made by the Medicare program. Currently, physicians, other health care professionals and suppliers do not face an explicit deadline for returning overpayments made to them by Medicare. The proposal will spell out a specific timeframe by which self-identified overpayments must be reported and returned.

FDA Warns Physicians, Patients About Counterfeit Avastin

According to a Feb. 14 announcement( from the FDA, a counterfeit version of the anti-cancer drug Avastin may have been purchased and used by some medical practices in the United States. Accordingly, the agency has issued letters to 19 U.S. medical practices that purchased unapproved cancer medications, possibly including the counterfeit Avastin.

The counterfeit 400mg/16mL vials do not contain the drug's active ingredient, bevacizumab, which means patients may not have received the intended therapy.

The practices purchased the drug from Quality Specialty Products (QSP), a foreign supplier that may also be known as Montana Health Care Solutions. Volunteer Distribution in Gainesboro, Tenn., is a distributor of QSP's products.

The counterfeit Avastin is labeled as having been manufactured by Roche, which, indeed, produces Avastin approved for marketing outside of the United States. The FDA-approved version of the drug, however, is manufactured only by Roche's San Francisco-based Genentech unit.

Suspected counterfeit or unapproved products may be reported to the FDA's Office of Criminal Investigations (OCI) by calling at (800) 551-3989, visiting the OCI website( or sending the agency an email.

Documentary Looks at Reasons Behind Variations in Health Care

Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) is broadcasting a new documentary on health care in the United States. U.S. Health Care: The Good News( focuses on variations in health care spending across the United States and why some areas can provide much better care at a lower cost than other communities.

Hosted by best-selling health care writer T.R. Reid, the documentary reflects Reid's travels across the country to find doctors and hospitals that are succeeding in providing excellent health care at a reasonable cost.

The PBS special airs on Feb. 16 at 9 p.m. EST. Check your local listings to determine when it airs in your area.