KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Perspectives: Doctors Are Still Prescribing Brand Name Drugs Over Generics, And You Can Blame Pharma For It

Read recent commentaries about drug-cost issues.

RealClear Health: Why Are Physicians Still Prescribing High Cost Brand Name Drugs? Ask Pharma.
Generic drugs are a boon in health care. Typically lower in cost and as effective as their branded counterparts, they help control pharmacy spending and increase access to important therapies for patients who could be deterred by the high cost of some branded drugs. In fact, research shows that the use of generic drugs produces annual savings in excess of $200 billion. (Troyen Brennan, 5/14)

The Washington Post: Trump’s New FDA Commissioner Has A Huge Decision To Make
Last week, the Senate confirmed Scott Gottlieb to lead the Food and Drug Administration. That puts the new commissioner in the hot seat to tackle several high-profile issues that are critically important to patients and consumers. Among the most important decisions he’ll have to make early on is whether to accept industry proposals to reduce standards under which drugs can be advertised — regulations that have protected patients for more than 50 years. (William B. Schultz, 5/16)

Cincinnati Enquirer: Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Will Improve Care For All Americans
I agree with Gov. John Kasich, we cannot allow Washington politicians with taxpayer-funded health insurance to rip coverage away from Ohioans who are battling cancer, getting regular checkups for the first time, or finally getting treatment for their opioid addiction. Of course we need to do more to lower costs for Ohioans, and I’m ready to work with anyone on commonsense ideas to make our health care system work better. (Sen. Sherrod Brown, 5/25)

Cincinnati Enquirer: Who Represents Us?
Negotiated pricing is the common-sense solution to reining in the costs of prescription drugs. It has been in use for many decades, for drugs bought by the Veterans Administration, General Services Administration, all military branches, and the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia; why not Medicare? There is no acceptable reason for these laws. (James Baker, 5/10)

CNN: Health Care Costs Are Bankrupting Us
The financial insecurity experienced by many Americans certainly figures into any root-cause analysis for why President Trump was elected. But for most Americans, the "biggest tax cut ever" will do little to reduce that insecurity. Driving down health care costs -- and making them more predictable -- is far more important. (H. Gilbert Welch and Elliott Fisher, 5/11)

Bloomberg: Merck Can't Say How Good Its Good News Is
Merck & Co.'s 2017 just got a whole lot brighter. The company announced Wednesday evening that its immune-boosting cancer drug Keytruda can now be prescribed in combination with chemotherapy, vaulting it ahead of its rivals in the space. It's huge news. But exactly how huge it is going forward is largely out of Merck's control. (Max Nisen, 5/11)

The Fiscal Times: How Trump Can Score A Big, Bipartisan Win On Health Care 
Prescription drugs may not be the costliest part of our health system, but they’re the fastest-rising charge that hits individual pocketbooks directly. The demand for legislative reform is palpable; every politician in Washington has an interest in defusing the drug price explosion. But as close as victory sits, it’s also just out of our grasp. (David Dayen, 5/16)

Montana Standard: Three Easy Steps To Drug Price Control
I find it is despicable the House of Representatives is blaming the high cost of health care on the poor, elderly and chronically ill. They need to address the real reasons for increasing costs of health care, the increasing costs of health care. Take drug costs, for starters. The total drug expenditures for 2015 in America rose 12.2 percent during the previous year. (Michael Bernhardt, 5/11)

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