The Biden administration on Wednesday extended the Covid-19 public health emergency for the ninth time since January 2020, in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from the District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania.
- District of Columbia: The Biden administration on Wednesday renewed the Covid-19 public health emergency that was set to expire April 16 for an additional 90 days—a move that extends pandemic policies and flexibility for the health care industry. HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra has previously pledged to give a minimum of 60 days' notice before ending the emergency. Under the emergency, between 13 million and 16 million Americans have had increased access to health insurance coverage under Medicaid and CHIP. In addition, the emergency has made it easier to sign up for health insurance, expanded access to telehealth, and accelerated FDA authorization for Covid-19 treatments, tests, and vaccines. While the World Health Organization (WHO) last week reported just 22,336 Covid-19 deaths globally—the lowest count since the week of March 30, 2020—many global health experts still believe the virus poses a major health threat. "Some countries are still witnessing serious spikes in cases, which is putting pressure on hospitals. And our ability to monitor trends is compromised as testing has significantly reduced," said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. (Cohen, Roll Call, 4/13; Morse, Healthcare Finance News, 4/13; Diaz, NPR, 4/13; American Hospital Association, 4/13)
- Maryland: University of Maryland Capital Region Health appointed Tom-meka Archinard SVP and CMO, effective June 1. Archinard, who most recently served as a clinical associate professor of emergency medicine at the University of Alabama Birmingham (UAB) and associate director of UAB Medicine's freestanding emergency department in Gardendale, Alabama, has over two decades of leadership experience. Notably, she was also a founding faculty member of Rutgers University's emergency medicine residency. (Bean, Becker's Hospital Review, 4/12)
- North Carolina/Pennsylvania: GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) on Wednesday agreed to buy Sierra Oncology for $55 per share in a $1.9 billion deal that will grow GSK's cancer drug pipeline. The deal is centered around momelotinib—a drug designed to treat anemic patients who have a rare type of bone marrow cancer called myelofibrosis. "If you're anemic this drug works incredibly well," said GSK's chief commercial officer Luke Miels. "The treatments you've got tend to exacerbate anemia. This has the opposite effect." In the coming weeks, Sierra plans to submit the drug for FDA review, and GSK anticipates that the treatment will start generating sales in 2023. Since taking over as GSK's CEO five years ago, Emma Walmsley has steered the company toward promising, higher value drugs, like cancer medicines. (Roland, Wall Street Journal, 4/13)