The federal government is set to decide this month whether the federal Medicare program should pay for a $3,000 test that for the first time accurately identifies the signature brain plaques of Alzheimer’s disease, according to Bloomberg News. The test, approved last year by U.S. regulators, uses Eli Lilly and Co.’s Amyvid imaging agent to trace the brain protein amyloid. Alzheimer’s disease affects 5 million Americans, a number that patient advocates say could double by 2050. But the test is controversial because there are no available treatments that even slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. A final decision from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will come July 9. While a negative decision would limit use of the tests, approval would probably lead to coverage from private health insurers, too.
Nyhart Actuary & Employee Benefits plans to expand its Indianapolis headquarters and create as many as 25 jobs here by 2017. The firm will invest $840,000 to lease and equip an additional 8,000 square feet of office space, according to Nyhart CEO Thomas Toten. Nyhart currently is negotiating an expansion of the 20,000 square feet it leases at 8415 Allison Pointe Blvd. in the Castleton area. Nyhart currently has 68 full-time employees in Indianapolis and about another 30 across five other states. The firm already has started hiring additional actuaries, administrators and benefit consultants from college programs for its Indianapolis expansion. Founded in 1943, Nyhart provides consulting services to more than 1,000 public and private companies in 48 states on issues such as pensions, retirement benefits, compensation and other employee benefits. Nyhart has been in growth mode lately. In August, Nyhart acquired San Diego-based The Epler Co., a regional actuarial, employee benefits and compensation strategies firm.
Lilly Endowment Inc. will give $10 million to help start the Indiana Biosciences Institute. The institute is already due to receive $25 million in startup funds from the state. The institute aims to attract 100 new scientists to Indiana to conduct research and development work aimed at launching new therapies for metabolic diseases. The effort has been spearheaded by BioCrossroads, an Indianapolis-based life sciences organization, and has received significant support from Gov. Mike Pence and John Lechleiter, the CEO of Eli Lilly and Co. The institute needs to raise $15 million over the next year or so to fully fund its startup efforts. Beyond that, the institute hopes to raise an endowment of $310 million to help fund its operations. It also hopes its researchers attract steady grants from life sciences research companies, such as Indianapolis-based Lilly and Bloomington-based Cook Group Inc.
Eli Lilly and Co. won a United Kingdom patent lawsuit against a Johnson & Johnson unit over a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, according to Bloomberg News. A patent held by J&J’s Janssen Alzheimer Immunotherapy Research & Development unit isn’t valid, Judge Richard Arnold said in a ruling in London on June 25. Both companies are developing treatments targeting the buildup of plaque in patients’ brains that’s linked to the condition. Companies developing the first treatments for Alzheimer’s are competing for what might be a $20 billion market, according to a report last year by Deutsche Bank AG analysts.
The head of the state Family and Social Services Administration said the federal government is expected to approve an extension of the Healthy Indiana Plan, but a request to use the plan for an Indiana Medicaid expansion could take much longer. According to the Associated Press, FSSA Secretary Debra Minott said Gov. Mike Pence directed her and others to ensure those already enrolled in HIP are secure before negotiating an expansion through the program. Roughly 40,000 low-income residents are enrolled in the program, which operates under a federal waiver. But the waiver is set to expire at the end of the year, potentially leaving enrollees without coverage. Pence resubmitted an application with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in April seeking to use the state's hybrid health savings account plan as the vehicle for Medicaid expansion. CMS rejected an earlier request from former Gov. Mitch Daniels, citing concerns about the premium paid by members and a need for improved coverage. The expansion would cover residents earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, using new funds authorized by Obamacare.