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February 24, 2014
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Online physician visits could become far more common in Indiana this year under a bill pending in the General Assembly. House Bill 1258 would allow the large health insurer Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield to launch a pilot program using the Live Health Online technology it has developed with Massachusetts-based software firm American Well Corp. The technology—which allows doctors to make virtual house calls via a Skype-like video and chat portal—would expand access to health care by making physicians available at odd hours and to patients in far-flung areas. The pilot would be conducted by primary care physicians at Indianapolis-based American Health Network, a large primary care physician practice. The pilot could last as long as six months and would involve at least 200 online visits. After the pilot phase, the Medical Licensing Board of Indiana then would be able to decide whether to expand online visits statewide and under what restrictions, if any. Since 2003, the Medical Licensing Board has restricted those visits to patients and doctors who have had an in-person encounter. HB 1258 would remove that restriction, allowing doctor-patient consultations where no relationship existed.

Eli Lilly and Co. will acquire all assets of Germany-based Lohmann SE and its subsidiary, Lohmann Animal Health. The assets include vaccines and feed additives and manufacturing sites in Cuxhaven, Germany, and Winslow, Maine. No terms were released, but Indianapolis-based Lilly said Monday that its 2014 earnings forecast will be trimmed due to acquisition costs. Lohmann Animal Health had sales of $342 million in fiscal 2012. It has about 600 employees in more than 30 countries. In November, Reuters reported that Boehringer Ingelheim was considering an offer for Lohmann Animal Health estimated at $535 million. Lilly said the acquisition will significantly increase the ability of its Elanco Animal Health subsidiary to make vaccines. Competing in that market is a "cornerstone" of the subsidiary's long-term strategy, the company said. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter.

A panel of House lawmakers Feb. 20 approved a one-year ban on construction of nursing homes, according to the Associated Press. The measure passed the Ways and Means Committee 12-7. The Senate authors of the measure originally sought a five-year moratorium, but Ways and Means Chairman Tim Brown, R-Crawfordsville, suggested the length be trimmed to give lawmakers time to decide if a ban is needed. The ban is at the center of an ongoing debate between the state's existing nursing homes and developers leading a wave of construction across the state.

The University of Indianapolis plans to spend $50 million over five years on major construction projects. The bulk of the money will be spent on a 134,000-square-foot health sciences center, which will provide training space for UIndy’s nursing, physical therapy and other health care students, as well as for a community health care facility. Over the next two years, the UIndy will also renovate its Krannert Memorial Library, replace its Campus Apartments on Shelby Street with newer housing options and expand its science labs. UIndy also plans to hire additional faculty for key programs and launch men’s and women’s lacrosse teams.

Shares of Eli Lilly and Co. rose last week after the Indianapolis-based drugmaker revealed that an experimental drug boosted overall survival among lung cancer patients in a large Phase 3 trial. When ramucirumab was applied to non-small cell lung cancer, along with a traditional chemotherapy drug, it showed a statistically significant extension of the time of overall survival when compared with patients who only took the chemotherapy drug, Lilly said Feb. 19. The company plans to submit ramucirumab for market approval with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration later this year. The drug has already shown positive results as a treatment for gastric cancer, and Lilly is studying the drug as a liver cancer treatment as well. Wall Street analysts have modest expectations for ramucirumab. Bernstein Research analyst Tim Anderson expects sales next year of $167 million, ramping up to $669 million by 2020.

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