KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

Lawmaker: Trump Had Right Rhetoric On Drug Prices, But Pharma Still Has Last Word

News outlets report on stories related to pharmaceutical pricing.

Stat: Q&A: 'More Action And Less Rhetoric' Needed To Bring Down Drug Pricing
In January, it seemed like 2017 would be the year when Congress would finally take steps to rein in pharmaceutical prices. But despite President Trump’s repeated criticism of the drug industry and Democrats’ apparent willingness to work with him on the issue, no major piece of legislation has gained traction. One legislator thinks it’s still possible: Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), who sits on the House Energy & Commerce Committee, which oversees the FDA. Throughout his tenure in Washington, Welch has been outspoken on what he sees as systematic price gouging by drug makers. (Facher, 8/31)

Stat: Pharma Sues Nevada Over Diabetes Drug Transparency Law
Less than two months after Nevada enacted a controversial law requiring more transparency from drug makers over their pricing of diabetes medicines, the pharmaceutical industry is pushing back. In a lawsuit filed last Friday, two large industry trade groups claim the law is an “unprecedented and unconstitutional” action that interferes with well-established patent law by robbing drug makers of their right to protect trade secrets. Consequently, the trade groups also argue the law impedes the ability to successfully to do business in other states by tying penalties to wholesale, or list, prices. (Silverman, 9/5)

Bloomberg: Why Drugs Cost Less In The U.K. Than In The U.S.
Drug prices in the U.K., already among the lowest in the developed world, may drop lower still. The British public-health system has adopted new limits on how much it spends on certain medicines, prompting pharmaceutical companies to sue in a bid to stop the initiative. At a time when U.S. President Donald Trump has pledged to bring down the cost of medicine and health care in the U.S., the U.K.’s experience can offer lessons as well as cautionary tales. (Quinn, 9/4)

Stat: Novartis Charged Much More In The U.S. For Some Drugs Than In Other Countries
In 2014, the most recent year for which data was available, Novartis (NVS) headquarters in Switzerland charged its U.S. subsidiary significantly more for four medicines than what its subsidiaries paid in roughly a dozen other countries. These included several well-to-do nations such as the U.K., Germany, and France. And the difference in pricing ranged anywhere from 45 percent to 176 percent, after adjusting for currency fluctuations and packaging. (Silverman, 9/5)

Stat: Novo Nordisk To Pay $58 Million For Not Complying With An FDA Program
Novo Nordisk (NVO) has agreed to pay more than $58 million to settle allegations that it failed to adequately alert doctors one of its diabetes drugs may be associated with thyroid cancer, a step that was required by regulators at the time its medicine was approved. Specifically, the drug maker failed to comply with a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy, or REMS, a program that requires companies to develop a plan to educate doctors and monitor distribution of a drug that may cause a very serious side effect. (Silverman, 9/5)

Columbus Dispatch: Outside Experts Assess Ohio's Ballot Issue On Prescription-Drug Prices
Independent legal and medical experts have mixed opinions about Issue 2, the Nov. 7 ballot proposal aimed at reducing prices on prescription drugs for about 4 million Ohioans. Several experts contacted by The Dispatch who are not affiliated with either the proponents or opponents said Issue 2 could result in some savings on prescription drugs but faces signifcant or even insurmountable hurdles. (Johnson and Candisky, 9/4)

The Associated Press: Groups Challenge Explanation Of Drug Price Cap Initiative
Industry groups have filed a court challenge to the South Dakota attorney general's explanation of a ballot question that would cap how much state agencies could pay for prescription drugs. South Dakota Biotech and Washington-based Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America are asking a judge to direct Attorney General Marty Jackley to modify his explanation. (9/1)

The Wall Street Journal: Germany’s Merck Puts Consumer Drugs Business On The Block
Merck KGaA put its consumer-health unit on the block Tuesday in a move that will focus its health-care activities on the riskier business of developing prescription medicines. Darmstadt, Germany-based Merck is considering options for its consumer-health operations, including a full or partial sale, or strategic partnership, the company said. A final decision hasn’t been made. (Roland, 9/5)

Richmond Times-Dispatch: Independent Pharmacies Emphasize Personal Service As A Way To Compete With Retail Drugstore Giants
Independent, community pharmacies realizing that they can’t compete on drug prices against the CVSs, Walgreens, and Rite Aids of the world or the mail order pharmacies are putting more emphasis on their ability to be more flexible and provide more personal service, including prescription delivery, custom compounding, convenience packaging of prescriptions, and related services such as immunizations, medication counseling and more. (Smith, 9/3)

Bloomberg: With U.S. Generic Drug Market In Chaos, Indian Upstarts Rise
The most recent earnings reports across the generic drug industry read like dispatches from the front lines of a price war, with their U.S. businesses among the biggest casualties. This month, the world’s largest copycat drugmaker, Israel’s Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., slashed its dividend; U.S. giant Mylan NV lowered its profit target; and India’s Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. reported its first quarterly loss in at least 12 years. (Altstedter, Hopkins and Modi, 8/30)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.