KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Perspectives: Trump Is Trying To Fix A Wheel That (For The Most Part) Isn’t Broken

Read recent commentaries about drug-cost issues.

Stat: Dear Mr. President: Here's Why Your Take On The FDA Is Wrong
Dear President Trump: During your speech to Congress last week, you took a whack at the Food and Drug Administration for its “slow and burdensome” approach toward approving medicines. You then suggested that if “we slash the restraints” on the agency, Americans will be blessed with more miracle cures. To be sure, the FDA is not infallible. Like any institution, the agency is a collection of people who sometimes make mistakes or exercise poor judgment. And the public is right to demand more new medicines more quickly. (Ed Silverman, 3/6)

Bloomberg: Trump Speech Leaves Health Care A Big Mess
The health-care goals President Donald Trump mentioned in his address to a joint session of Congress Tuesday night were a high-water mark for policy specificity from this president. But that mark was a low bar. The lack of detail was still glaring, and Trump either skirted the alligators lurking in the morass of Affordable Care Act repeal and replacement, or just poked them with a long stick. The process remains as chaotic as ever. That's a threat to health insurers who focus narrowly on government programs. It may also hurt those who don't. (Max Nisen, 3/1)

Stat: Employers Have The Power To Greatly Transform Cancer Care
Over the last decade, private employers from Boeing to Xerox have led the nation in developing innovative strategies for delivering better health at less cost. Whatever the Trump administration and Congress decide to do about the Affordable Care Act in 2017, this business role won’t — and shouldn’t — change. In fact, it should expand, especially if employers are bold enough to ask the administration to roll back outdated regulations that prevent employers, insurers, and drug companies from linking drug prices to real-world health outcomes. (Paul Howard and Lauren Pickering, 3/3)

The Daily Herald: Drugmakers Need To Show Costs Behind Drug Prices
There is no shortage of outrageous examples of medication price hikes by pharmaceutical companies. Take your pick (and swallow with a full glass of water): “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkrelli, who jacked the price of a drug used to treat patients with malaria and HIV by 5,000 percent; Mylan, which raised the price of its EpiPen auto-injector for life-threatening allergy attacks to $365 for a generic drug that normally costs a dollar a dose; and more recently drugmaker Kaleo, which has increased the price for a two-pack of its “talking” Naloxone auto-injector — used to halt opioid overdoses — from $690 in 2014 to $4,500 today. (3/3)

San Francisco Chronicle: Congress Could Find Common Ground Over Escalating Drug Prices
Pharma Bro is back. In this case, it’s not a disgraced pharmaceutical executive but a drug firm looking to sell a life-saving drug for $89,000 a year, even though it’s available from overseas for less than $2,000. It’s an example of whipsawing drug prices that are infuriating both Democrats and Republicans and leading major pharmaceutical firms to promise to curb prescription drug costs... The pressure is building in ways that could produce sweeping changes in drug pricing. (3/1)

Lincoln Journal-Star: Shine Light On Pricing Of Prescriptions
The story in the Sunday Journal Star, “Sworn to secrecy, drugstores stay silent as customers overpay,” cited examples in other states, but the same thing is happening in Nebraska. It’s a nationwide problem. At the heart of the controversy is the giant pharmacy benefit management industry -- perhaps the largest industry of which you have never heard, even though it has companies that are larger than some household names like Pepsi, Coca-Cola and Boeing. (3/3)

Bloomberg: Roche's New Drugs May Protect Its Old Ones
Roche Holding AG's blockbuster cancer drugs face a huge impending sales decline in the next few years. Its investors aren't worried. The company's ADRs spiked as much 6.8 percent on Thursday, in response to positive trial data for a combination of Herceptin -- one of those big blockbusters -- and a newer drug called Perjeta. (Max Nisen, 3/2)

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