News in Brief: Week of Sept. 10-14

September 12, 2012 04:30 pm News Staff

This roundup includes the following news briefs:

[News in Brief]

Hydrocodone Bitartrate and Acetaminophen Tablets Recalled

According to an FDA release(, Qualitest, a subsidiary of Endo Health Solutions, has issued a voluntary, nationwide recall for one lot of its 10 mg/500 mg hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen tablets.

According to the release, affected bottles may contain tablets with a higher-than-normal dose of acetaminophen. As a result, it is possible that consumers could take more than the intended acetaminophen dose, which could result in liver toxicity, especially in patients who use other acetaminophen-containing medications, patients with liver dysfunction, and people who consume more than three alcoholic beverages a day.

"The affected lot -- C1440512A -- was distributed between May 14 and Aug. 3, 2012, to wholesale distributors and retail pharmacies nationwide," the release said. "The lot number can be found on the side of the manufacturer's bottle. Hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen tablets are approximately 16.51 mm in length, pink, capsule-shaped tablets, with '3600' on one side of the tablet and 'V' on the other."

The FDA is asking consumers, as well as physicians and other health care professionals, who have tablets from lot C1440512A to contact Qualitest at (800) 444-4011. Those unsure if they have product from the affected lot number should consult their physician or pharmacy professional.

Adverse events that may be related to use of these products also may be reported to MedWatch(, the FDA's Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program.

Calling All Researchers: NIH Can Help Repay Loans

In the interest of encouraging outstanding health professionals to pursue careers in biomedical, behavioral, social and clinical research, the NIH is offering to help physicians-in-training pay off their education loans.

For those who commit at least two years to conducting qualified research funded by a domestic nonprofit organization or a U.S. federal, state or local government entity, NIH's Extramural Loan Repayment Programs( may repay as much as $35,000 of qualified student loan debt per year. The agency's offer includes most undergraduate, graduate and medical school loans.

The NIH program is looking for researchers in the following areas:

  • clinical research,
  • pediatric research,
  • health disparities research,
  • contraception and infertility research, and
  • clinical research for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The 2013 extramural loan repayment application cycle( runs from Sept. 1-Nov. 15, 2012, with new contracts starting July 1, 2013.

CMS Awards Loans to Help Create More State Insurance Options

CMS plans to award $162 million in loans to help two organizations establish Consumer Oriented and Operated Plans( (CO-OPs) in Tennessee and Massachusetts. The agency plans to award $73.3 million to the Community Health Alliance Mutual Insurance Co. in Tennessee and $88.5 million to Minuteman Health Inc. in Massachusetts, according to a CMS press release(

The CO-OP program provides start-up and solvency loans to help eligible nonprofit private organizations sell health insurance coverage through state insurance exchanges and Small Business Health Options Program Exchange markets. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act provides $3.8 billion for the CO-OP program, and, thus far, CMS has awarded funding to 20 CO-OPs in 20 states.

New Policy Brief Explains Risk Adjustment

Health Affairs has released a new policy brief( explaining how risk adjustment works and why it is needed.

The policy brief, developed by Health Affairs and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, describes risk adjustment as a process in which a third party, such as the federal government or a state, collects and organizes data from insurance claims and clinical diagnoses for all enrollees in every participating health plan or provider organization in a particular market. The entity then converts the data into a risk score for each person in the plan, using that score to determine whether the enrollee is healthier or sicker than average and how much payment to the plan should be adjusted for that patient.

Risk adjusting is a way of eliminating incentives for insurance companies to cover only the healthiest enrollees, and the process is considered a "key ingredient in the overall success of the innovations in the (Patient Protection and) Affordable Care Act," according to a Health Affairs blog post(