KHN Morning Briefing

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While Drugmakers Lick Wounds From Public Outrage Over Prices, One Company Remains Defiant

News outlets report on stories related to pharmaceutical pricing.

The New York Times: Defiant, Generic Drug Maker Continues To Raise Prices
Congressional hearings. Federal investigations. Consumer outrage. In the wake of developments like these, many drug company executives are laying low. Their favored business models, based on raising drug prices indiscriminately, are now seen as a liability; many pharmaceutical companies are curbing increases on their products and accepting that this once-lucrative jig may be up. (Morgenson, 4/14)

Stat: Want To Avoid A Drug Price Backlash? Keep The Cost To Yourself
All the recent rancor over drug pricing has led biotech to change its ways. Not by making new drugs cheaper, of course, but by holding off on naming a price — and thus inviting controversy — until the last possible minute. Nowadays, as soon as a drug wins Food and Drug Administration approval, so begins a debate about whether it’s worth the thousands of dollars a year new therapies generally cost. And so companies, perhaps mindful of how a few scolding tweets can snowball into a market-moving event, are starting to keep that information under wraps for as long as possible. (Garde, 4/12)

The Wall Street Journal: Cardinal Health Feels Pain Of Falling Drug Prices
Making money when drug prices were rising was easy. Now comes the hard part.The latest signal: Distribution giant Cardinal Health lowered earnings expectations Tuesday morning and told investors that business wouldn’t pick up until the middle of 2018. The company is being hit by falling prices of generic drugs, which are expected to decline by a percentage in the low double digits for the fiscal year ending in June. (Grant, 4/18)

Stat: Bill Would Make It Easier For Pharma To Talk Off-Label Drug Uses
In a bid to loosen off-label communications, a congressman quietly introduced a bill late last month that would expand the ability of drug makers to discuss unapproved uses of their medicines with doctors. The legislation, which was proposed by Representative Morgan Griffith (R-Va.), addresses a controversial, if technical term called “intended use.” The Food and Drug Administration maintains that discussion of an unapproved, or off-label use, creates a new intended use for which a drug maker must have regulatory approval. (Silverman, 4/18)

The Washington Post: 1st Drug OK’d For Movement Disorder Caused By Certain Meds
U.S. regulators have approved the first drug for treating a neurological syndrome that causes uncontrollable body movements that can also interfere with speech, swallowing and breathing. The sometimes-disabling disorder, tardive dyskinesia, is caused by some widely used prescription medicines for psychiatric and gastrointestinal disorders. It can surface while patients are on those medicines or years after they stop. It affects about 500,000 U.S. patients. (Johnson, 4/11)

Kaiser Health News: Nonprofit Linked To PhRMA Rolls Out Campaign To Block Drug Imports
A nonprofit organization that has orchestrated a wide-reaching campaign against foreign drug imports has deep ties to the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, the powerhouse lobbying group that includes Eli Lilly, Pfizer and Bayer. A PhRMA senior vice president, Scott LaGanga, for 10 years led the Partnership for Safe Medicines, a nonprofit that has recently emerged as a leading voice against Senate bills that would allow drug importation from Canada. (Kopp and Bluth, 4/19)

Stat: Patient Groups, Backed By Pharma, Fight Nevada Drug Pricing Bill
Abill that was recently introduced in Nevada to fight the cost of diabetes medicines is quickly generating vociferous opposition from several patient organizations, some of which receive financial support from the pharmaceutical industry. The groups include the National Organization for Rare Disorders, Caregiver Voices United, the Myositis Association, the International Pain Foundation, RetireSafe, and the Epilepsy Foundation. And most of their letters, which were sent to Nevada state senators, use nearly identical language in citing concerns. (Silverman, 4/17)

Boston Globe: Alere Agrees To Be Bought By Abbott For Reduced Price
The long and contentious purchase of Alere Inc. of Waltham by Abbott Laboratories appears at hand, after the two health care companies said Friday they have a new deal that lowers the takeover price by $500 million. The amended takeover, under which Abbott will pay $51 for each share of Alere, is valued at $5.3 billion, down from the $5.8 billion the parties had initially agreed to in February 2016. (Weisman, 4/14)

Stat: A Surprise FDA Rejection Puts Lilly's Turnaround In Jeopardy
Eli Lilly’s path to what looked like a surefire blockbuster got derailed by an unforeseen FDA rejection, clouding the future of a drug the company viewed as a pipeline in a pill. The Food and Drug Administration declined to approve Lilly’s baricitinib, an oral treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. According to Lilly, the agency wants to see more clinical data to determine the safety and ideal doses for the drug. Lilly didn’t disclose whether that means it will have to recruit and run new studies of the treatment, but if so, a resubmission could be delayed by months. (Garde, 4/14)

Forbes: The Billionaire And The Drug Price-Fixing Scandal
In September 2015, Satish Mehta, the billionaire chief executive of the Indian drug company Emcure Pharmaceuticals, wrote an effusive email congratulating Jeffrey Glazer, the CEO of his U.S. crown jewel, Heritage Pharmaceuticals, on a job well done. "In a short span of 4.5 years, you have taken Heritage to another level," Mehta wrote, adding that he considered Glazer to be "an integral part of our family." (Vardi and Karmali, 4/18)

Nashville Tennessean: Senate OKs Prescription Drug Redistribution Program, But Not For Opioids
The Senate unanimously approved a measure Monday to create a prescription drug-share program that would allow donations of packaged cancer drugs, but not opioids. The bill would allow nonprofit organizations to donate and redistribute prescription drugs still in their manufacturer packaging to people who don't have health insurance and meet other criteria. Multiple senators said the medication will largely come from long-term care facilities, which throw away a large amount of unused medication. (Lowary, 4/17)

Stat: Drug Research Firms Push For Tax Break Amid Foreign Competition
The legislation, which was introduced by Pennsylvania Representative Patrick Meehan, a Republican, was co-sponsored by two North Carolina congressmen, Republican George Holding and Democrat G.K. Butterfield. In their home state, CROs employ some 24,000 people. Today, North Carolina is home to 152 CROs, which include powerhouses like PPD, PRA Health Sciences, and INC Research, as well as smaller outfits like Rho and Cato Services. CROs — which are also often referred to as contract research organizations — are a boon to North Carolina’s life science industry, which raked in nearly $2.2 billion in state and local government tax revenues in 2016, according to an economic impact report from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center. (Broadfoot, 4/18)

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