Current Events

Big day of healthcare news

Today was a big day for news in the healthcare industry.  First, a private equity group agreed to buy HCA (Hospital Corporation of America) in a leveraged buyout deal valued at $21 billion (plus the assumption of $11.7 billion of debt).  The Chicago Tribune (“HCA agrees…“) looked to Darren Lehrich of Deutche Bank for analysis:

This gives a company like HCA the ability to duck in the hole, so to speak, in a difficult time for industry fundamentals… It takes a little bit of the quarter-to-quarter pressure off the management team and has a much longer term view in this environment, where we’ve witnessed soft volumes and deteriorating bad-debt trends for the better part of three years. 

In a second big news story, The International Herald Tribune reports that FDA may alter its drug-advisory rules.  The FDA’s deputy commissioner said that the reforms will “make sure that the current system is rigorous, consistent, and transparent.”  The article continues:

The agency has been criticized by members of Congress and public interest groups for appointing doctors and scientists who have financial or other relationships with the companies whose products they are asked to consider. 

One of the FDA’s critics is the Public Citizen organization.  The non-profit recently completed a report cited a variety of financial conflicts of interest at the FDA.  The study found that “at 73% of the meetings, at least one conflict of interest was declared for at least 1 advisory committee member or voting consultant,” and of the total of 1556 conflicts, only 573 of the conflicts reported were any details given.