PHARMACY

HHS to upgrade code sets for use in electronic healthcare systems

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON The Department of Health and Human Services plans to replace its ICD-9 code sets, which contain 17,000 codes used in electronic healthcare systems to represent various diagnoses and medical procedures, according to the trade publication Healthcare IT News.

The department plans to replace the sets with the ICD-10 code sets, which contain 155,000 codes, many for new diagnoses and procedures, and are seen as essential to supporting electronic healthcare systems. Secretary Michael Leavitt said the expanded set will enable the department to support quality reporting, pay-for-performance, bio-surveillance and other critical activities.

The original ICD-9 was developed 30 years ago, and many see it as outdated.

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States come out against FDA pre-emption rule in Wyeth case

BY Alaric DeArment

MONTPELIER, Vt. Forty-seven states—including Vermont—want the United States Supreme Court to uphold a ruling against Wyeth that forced the drug maker to pay $6.8 million in damages after one of its drugs caused complications requiring a woman’s arm to be amputated.

The woman, Diana Levine of Marshfield, Vt., received an injection of the anti-nausea drug Phenergan in an artery in 2000. The injection caused artery damage and gangrene that eventually required amputation of her right arm. The jury in a lower court awarded Levine, a musician, $6.8 million.

The case will be argued before the Supreme Court Nov. 3.

Wyeth says it won approval for the drug’s warning label from the Food and Drug Administration, and thus should not have been subject to a lawsuit.

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FDA warns of Byetta risk for severe pancreatitis

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON The Food and Drug Administration has received six reports of hemorrhagic or necrotizing pancreatitis in patients taking Eli Lilly’s Byetta, an injected drug used for treating Type 2 diabetes and known generically as exenatide.

All six cases required hospitalization, and two patients died. At the time of reporting, four were recovering.

The FDA warns that patients should discontinue medication use if pancreatitis is suspected, and that there are no signs to distinguish acute hemorrhagic or necrotizing pancreatitis associated with Byetta from less severe forms of the disease.

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