17 February 2019

Council for Medical Schemes suspends investigations head Stephen Mmatli

Business Day 11 February 2019 - The CMS has served Mmatli with a letter of precautionary suspension, pending the outcome of investigations into ‘serious acts of misconduct’

SA’s medical scheme regulator has suspended its head of investigations, Stephen Mmatli, pending the outcome of a probe into allegations of corruption. The move by the Council for Medical Schemes (CMS) has potentially fa r-reaching implications for the medical schemes industry, as it raises questions about the legitimacy of inspections currently under way, and whether the regulator may have turned a blind eye to issues that warranted scrutiny. At least four inspections are currently in play, including probes into SA’s two biggest medical schemes, Discovery Health Medical Scheme and the Government Employees Medical Scheme (Gems), as well as smaller schemes Resolution Health and Bonitas. For the article click here


Medical scheme Profmed has appointed Craig Comrie as principal officer and CEO. He succeeds Graham Anderson

CMS probed over deal with Discovery

Sunday times 17 February 2019 – The BHF is investigating how the Council had allowed Discovery’s Life Insurance unit to provide its PrimaryCare product.

The Council for Medical Schemes (CMS) initially rejected this product when its medical scheme business unit applied to be allowed to do so. The product currently covers more than 30 000 people and starts at about R160 per month. The Board of HealthCare Funders (BHF) is concerned that the recent granting of the exemption to Discovery Life by CMS will serve to negate the objectives of the demarcation regulations. This week the Special Investigating Unit said it was assessing allegations of impropriety at the CMS.

Vaccinations are a rational and moral responsibility

Saturday Star 16 February 2019 – Ten US states are battling the spread of measles.

Ideally widespread vaccination should prevent flare-ups of disease from gaining traction in the first place. It’s understandable that once parents start seeing children they know fall ill, they might think twice about not vaccinating. But why the hesitation in the first place?

Thousands of SA children diagnosed with cancer not on national registry

Times 15 February 2019 - More than half SA's children and adolescents diagnosed with cancer each year are either not being treated or not being reported to the national cancer registry.

Chair of the ministerial advisory committee on the prevention and control of cancer Dr Jennifer Geel told TimesLIVE that, based on the SA population, there should be at least 2,000 to 2,500 more children and adolescents with cancer per year. For the article click here

EXCLUSIVE: State's potential savings on new ARV drug eroded by tender delays

Business Day 15 February 2019 - Rollout of new treatment pushed back by three months and this delay will cost SA almost R500m

The government has negotiated the world’s lowest price for a new HIV pill containing dolutegravir, but delays in awarding contracts to pharmaceutical companies have cost it almost R500m. The tender was announced this week, and pushed the implementation date out from April 1 to July 1. For the article click here

Antibody could increase cure rate for blood, immune disorders

BizCommunity 14 February 2019 - An antibody-based treatment can gently and effectively eliminate diseased blood-forming stem cells in the bone marrow to prepare for the transplantation of healthy stem cells.

The researchers believe the treatment could circumvent the need to use harsh, potentially life-threatening chemotherapy or radiation to prepare people for transplant, vastly expanding the number of people who could benefit from the procedure. For the article click here

Breakthroughs in immuno-oncology provide new treatment options

BizCommunity 13 February 2019 - Breakthroughs in medical science have offered healthcare practitioners new options in the treatment of cancer. 

Cancer is a significant and growing problem for South Africa, with more than 70,000 new cases of cancer were diagnosed in 2014. Among the most promising new approaches is using immunotherapy to reactivate the immune system to destroy cancer cells. For the article click here

Minister disappointed by non-payment of doctors

BizCommunity 13 February 2019 - Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi says he is disappointed and highly distressed to learn that some intern and community service doctors who started work in January, have not been paid their salaries.

According to the Department of Health, when the problem came to the fore, Motsoaledi understood that the association representing the doctors, South African Medical Association (Sama) and respective administrations in provinces where the problem manifested itself, have been meeting to resolve the matter speedily, and that by 7 February 2019 the matter would have been settled. For the article click here

EXCLUSIVE: New antiretrovirals contract awarded, but roll-out of wonder drug delayed again

Business Day 13 February 2019 - It has emerged that most — but not all — of the tender has been awarded, but it will only kick-in in early July

A new HIV treatment that is expected to save the government  more than $900m over the next five years has been held up again, this time over delays in finalising the next three-year contract with suppliers. The health department’s plan to switch HIV patients to a cheaper and more effective three-drug combination pill containing dolutegravir, lamivudine and tenofovir is a vital part of its strategy for increasing the number of state patients from 4.2-million to  more than 6-million by 2020-21. For the article click here

J&J to buy robotics firm Auris Health, giving it a lung-cancer treatment tool

Business Day 13 February 2019 - Auris has developed robotic surgical scopes operated with a handheld device that is steered into patients’ lungs to identify cancerous tumours

Johnson & Johnson has agreed to buy surgical robotics company Auris Health for about $3.4bn in cash, according to people familiar with the matter, in a deal that would give the drug giant a lung-cancer diagnostic and treatment tool. For the article click here

Motsoaledi outlines NHI war room plan

BizCommunity 12 February 2019 - President Cyril Ramaphosa indicated in his State of the Nation Address (Sona) last week that in 2019 government will take a significant step towards universal health coverage that will bring quality healthcare to all South Africans.

Realising the magnitude of the challenges in health care, we have established an NHI and quality improvement war room in the Presidency. “This war room brings together various key departments to address the crisis in the public health system while preparing for the implementation of the NHI,” said Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi. For the article click here

President’s plan for fixing health delayed again

Business Day 12 February 2019 - After missing a number of deadlines, devising a health compact as a precursor to the ANC's promised NHI, ‘still needs more time’

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s ambitions of devising a plan for fixing the health system have once again been delayed, as participants from last year’s health summit say they need more time to do a proper job. Ramaphosa convened the two-day summit in late October, where delegates discussed ways to tackle the crisis in SA’s health system. The high-level gathering drew 600 delegates from the public and private sectors and ended with a promise to craft a blueprint for tackling the problems in the healthcare sector, which has seen services virtually collapse in many parts of the country. The summit ended with a promise to craft a health compact by December 10, but late last year that deadline was pushed out to the end of January 2019 after some stakeholders, including healthcare professionals, said the time-frame was too short. For the article click here

Poverty not an obstacle to excellent healthcare in Africa, says Bill Gates

Business Day 11 February 2019 - He says by spending modest amounts on priotised areas such as primary healthcare, governments can get phenomenal results

Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates said on Sunday that excellent basic healthcare that would prevent easily treatable but deadly conditions was achievable even in Africa’s poorest nations. “The good news about health is that by spending modest amounts on the prioritised areas, you can get phenomenal benefits,” he told AFP on the sidelines of the AU summit in Addis Ababa. “You don’t have to get all the way to middle income before you can run a great primary healthcare system.” Gates, whose foundation has spent about $15bn in Africa since 2000, on Saturday took part in the launch of an initiative to increase investment — mainly on the part of governments  — in the health sector. For the article click here

Drug firm makes cholesterol pill more affordable

Business Day 11 February 2019 - Sanofi and Regeneron cut list price by 60% to give US consumers better access and to lower out-of-pocket costs

Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals said on Monday that they will slash the US list price of their potent but expensive cholesterol fighter Praluent by 60%,  as the drugmakers follow a similar move by rival Amgen in hopes of increasing use of the drug. The new list price for Praluent will be $5,850 a year, matching the price Amgen set when it lowered the list of its competing drug, Repatha, in October 2018. For the article click here

Publication date: 2/17/2019