A Researcher’s Heretic Question: Is Washington’s Obsession With Rare Diseases The Best Use Of Taxpayer Dollars?
Read about the biggest pharmaceutical development and pricing stories from the past week in KHN's Prescription Drug Watch roundup.
Our Drug Policy Prioritizes Eliminating Rare Disease. Is That The Right Goal?
Dr. Peter Bach wants to turn the entire philosophical underpinnings of America’s health care system upside down. In a new argument — first laid out in a zippy 10-minute speech at last week’s STAT Summit in Cambridge, Mass. — Bach suggests the incentives created by policymakers to improve public health aren’t actually the best ideas for achieving that overarching goal. It centers on a seemingly heretical question: Is Washington’s obsession with eliminating rare diseases really the best use of taxpayer resources? (Florko, 11/26)
Pharma Execs Say MS Drug Pricing Is Based On Competition, Not R&D Costs
Despite claims that prices for new medicines are generally shaped by R&D costs, initial pricing decisions in the U.S. for multiple sclerosis drugs have been driven by other factors, especially what competitors are doing, according to four executives whose insights were described in a new paper. Besides competition, the executives also cited overall corporate growth objectives, the ability to set U.S. prices higher than in other countries, and distortions caused by the complicated rebate system used to establish insurance reimbursement, the researchers reported in Neurology. (Silverman, 11/25)
Trump Administration Is Still Focused On Lower Drug Prices, Despite Impeachment
The Trump administration is pushing ahead with its drug pricing agenda even as impeachment sucks up all the political oxygen, with plans to advance some of its most ambitious regulations and to work with Congress on legislation. Why it matters: Drug pricing remains a huge issue that both parties want to run on in 2020. For Trump, there's a lot of pressure: His most ambitious proposals have either been tabled, are tied up in the courts or have yet to be implemented. Owens, 11/25)
Trump Says He Will Allow States To Import Prescription Drugs To Lower Costs
U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday he will soon release a plan to let Florida and other states import prescription medicines to combat high drug prices, and he blasted the Democrat-led House for not going far enough in a drug-pricing bill. "We will soon be putting more options on the table," Trump wrote in a series of tweets, adding that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi "and her Do Nothing Democrats drug pricing bill doesn’t do the trick." (11/22)
States Prepare Drug-Importing Plans After Trump Assures They Can
State officials are moving forward with prescription drug importation programs on President Donald Trump's repeated assurances that he wants to allow states to import drugs from Canada, though HHS has not approved any such program. Vermont on Tuesday will become the second state to submit an importation plan to HHS behind Florida. Facilitating drug imports is one of Trump's favorite healthcare talking points and he reiterated his support for approving state plans on Friday. Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Trump talked about drug imports on a phone call the day before. (Cohrs, 11/26)
Booker’s Bill To Curb Drug Prices Would Kill Innovation – And N.J. Jobs, Trade Group Says
For the first time in human history, we have cured hepatitis C – the days of liver transplants and life-long treatments are fast disappearing. We now have a simple vaccine that prevents cervical cancer, something unheard of only a few short years ago. HIV/AIDS has become a chronic, manageable condition instead of the death sentence it once was. And just last week, the first-ever Ebola vaccine was approved in Europe – a lifesaver for millions of people in Africa and around the world. (Paranicas, 11/26)
Gilead’s HIV Patent Spat With HHS Could Keep Drug Prices High
The Trump administration’s lawsuit against Gilead Sciences Inc. over the company’s alleged infringement of government-owned patents for the HIV-prevention drug PrEP could unintentionally lead to higher drug prices, according to attorneys watching the case. The issue is that the government’s patents don’t cover the drug itself but the regimen that has patients take one pill daily. (Bauman, 11/25)
Amazon Taps First Pharmacy For Alexa Medication Management
Amazon on Tuesday unveiled what the company hopes will be the first step in a broader effort to let patients manage their medications using Alexa. The company's voice assistant is a cornerstone of the tech giant's push into the healthcare sector. This past spring Seattle-based Amazon launched an invite-only program for healthcare companies—including hospitals and health insurers—to develop skills that transmit protected health information through the voice assistant while meeting HIPAA compliance. (Cohen, 11/26)
Video: The Math Behind Drug Prices In The U.S.
Gerard Anderson, professor of health policy and management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, discusses drug prices in the U.S.. He also makes the case for Medicare for All on "Bloomberg Markets." The Bloomberg School of Public Health is supported by Michael R. Bloomberg, founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News. (11/26)
Three CEOs Own Up To Biopharma’s Bad Reputation
Biopharma’s reputation is, objectively speaking, the worst. And on Thursday, several biotech CEOs said in no uncertain terms that they believed that negative reputation was earned — particularly because of some drug pricing decisions. “Unfortunately, I think the industry has earned it. I think there has been and continues to be bad behaviors,” said Nick Leschly, the chief executive of Bluebird Bio, speaking at the STAT Summit on Thursday. (Sheridan, 11/21)
With $9.7 Billion Acquisition, Novartis Bets That Heart Drugs Are Coming Back
Novartis’ $9.7 billion acquisition of The Medicines Company (MDCO), which the companies announced Sunday after days of rumors, is a story of second acts. It represents a new chance for a type of cholesterol-lowering drug that was once predicted to generate many billions of dollars in annual sales, but has so far disappointed drug makers and investors, to dominate the landscape for heart medicines. (Herper, 11/24)
Pharma Execs: Thirst For Profit Drives High Drug Prices
Oregon State University pharmacy professor Daniel Hartung has long suspected that corporate greed is behind skyrocketing prescription drug costs, not pharmaceutical companies’ investment in research as company executives regularly claim. Now, Hartung and his research team have the evidence straight from some of those responsible for growing drug costs, revealed in anonymous interviews with four pharmaceutical executives and published Monday in the journal Neurology. (Zarkhin, 11/25)
Enlight Biosciences Highlights Struggles For ‘Precompetitive’ Biotechs
Unlike most biotech startups, Enlight Biosciences was never expected to make any drugs. Instead, the company intended to develop a whole host of promising, biotech-adjacent ideas. One would help connect clinical researchers with interested companies. Another would figure out how to use ultrasounds to diagnose a common liver disease. Yet another would transform a class of injectable drugs into pills. ...But Enlight appears to have failed. The three companies it spun out are either shuttered, struggling to operate, or stuck in preclinical development. (Sheridan, 11/27)