KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Drug Prices Expected To Spike Even Higher In 2017, Experts Predict

News outlets report on stories related to pharmaceutical drug pricing.

CBS News: Prognosis For Rx In 2017: More Painful Drug-Price Hikes
If there’s a remedy for rising drug costs, it’s not likely to be available to many Americans in 2017. Prescription drug costs for Americans under 65 years old are projected to jump 11.6 percent in 2017, or at a quicker pace than the 11.3 percent price increase in 2016, according to consulting firm Segal Consulting. Older Americans won’t get much of a break: Their drug costs are projected to rise 9.9 percent next year, compared with 10.9 percent in 2016. By comparison, wages are expected to rise just 2.5 percent in 2017. (Picchi, 12/30)

The Motley Fool: The Most Expensive Drugs Of 2016
Prescription drug prices have gotten out of control for many Americans and many insurers. Some drugs cost as much as premium sports cars. Here are the five most expensive prescription drugs in 2016 as compiled by prescription drug comparison website GoodRx -- and which companies are profiting from them. (Speights, 12/30)

The Wall Street Journal: Drug Pricing Report Shows Limits Of Transparency Push
A new Vermont law—the first of its kind in the U.S.—aims to shine a light on the murky world of prescription-drug pricing by requiring manufacturers to justify big increases. But the transparency push has its limits, as seen in the first report that Vermont officials prepared based on the drugmakers’ explanations. (Loftus, 12/31)

The New York Times: Costly Drug For Fatal Muscular Disease Wins F.D.A. Approval
The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first drug to treat patients with spinal muscular atrophy, a savage disease that, in its most severe form, kills infants before they turn 2. “This is a miracle — seriously,” Dr. Mary K. Schroth, a lung specialist in Madison, Wis., who treats children who have the disease, said of the approval, which was made last week. “This is a life-changing event, and this will change the course of this disease.” Dr. Schroth has previously worked as a paid consultant to Biogen, which is selling the drug. The drug, called Spinraza, will not come cheap — and, by some estimates, will be among the most expensive drugs in the world. (Thomas, 12/30)

Daily Press: Specialty Drug Prices Continue To Pressure Medicaid
The rising cost of drugs for rare and complex conditions that come from pharmaceutical companies' newest research continues to squeeze Virginia's Medicaid program, two new state reports suggest. The average spent on specialty drugs for people covered by Medicaid's traditional "fee-for-service" coverage rose by more than 14 percent last year, to $12,938 per recipient, the state Department of Medical Assistance Services' annual review for the General Assembly reported. Medicaid, a joint federal-state program, provides health coverage for low-income children, seniors and people with disabilities. (Ress, 12/29) NY Step Therapy Law To Boost Prescription Drug Costs By As Much As $530M, Insurers Say
A new state law that took effect Jan. 1 that curbs the ability of insurers to use "step therapy" will boost prescription drug costs in New York by as much as $530 million, according to an estimate by an insurance industry group. The New York Health Plan Association criticized Gov. Andrew Cuomo for signing on New Year's Eve a bill that reforms a practice used by insurers to force patients to use the least expensive drug first, even if a patient's doctor believes a different drug is more appropriate. (Mulder, 1/3)

Stat: Q&A: Vermont Legislator Says Drug Pricing Law Is The Start Of A ‘Long Battle'
Last June, Vermont became the first state in the country to pass a law requiring drug makers to justify their price hikes. The move, which was opposed by the pharmaceutical industry, was borne out of frustration that the federal government had not acted on the rising cost of prescription medicines. ... We spoke with Chris Pearson, a Vermont legislator who was vice chair of the House Committee on Health Care and championed the bill, about the results and where this is headed. (Silverman, 1/3)

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