As Federal Resistance To Drug Importation Crumbles, States Quickly Seize Opportunity To Fulfill Long-Term Goal
Read about the biggest pharmaceutical development and pricing stories from the past week in KHN's Prescription Drug Watch roundup.
With Encouragement From Trump, States Move Forward On Importing Drugs
President Donald Trump has not yet delivered a promised comprehensive plan to curb prescription drug prices, but his tweets and pronouncements have created momentum for one strategy: the importation of cheaper medications from Canada — and maybe from elsewhere. For years, the importation of cheaper versions of drugs already sold here has been a cherished goal of consumer advocates and others. But federal resistance, from both Republican and Democratic administrations, has always stood in the way, at least in part because of full-throated opposition from drugmakers. (Ollove, 12/18)
Democrats Box In Republicans On Drug Pricing
After months of wrangling, House Democrats finally passed a massive bill aimed at lowering drug prices. And Senate Republicans are flummoxed at how to respond. The GOP is in a jam that makes action appear somewhere between unlikely and impossible. But if Republicans fail to act, it could easily become a major political liability for the party given the salience of high drug prices in public polling and President Donald Trump’s desire for sweeping reforms. (Everett and Owermohle, 12/16)
Trade Deal Leaves PhRMA Out In The Cold
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) is the lone major trade group not supporting President Trump's new North American trade deal after the drug industry lost crucial intellectual property (IP) protections in the agreement. The loss was a blow to a powerful industry group that has long held sway in Washington, and while other industries are rallying behind the trade deal, PhRMA finds itself relatively alone in opposing it. (Gangitano, 12/17)
Lawmakers Say A Lilly Program To Offer Half-Price Insulin Is A Bust
Several months ago, Eli Lilly (LLY) launched a new version of its Humalog insulin at half of the list price, a move the company claimed would help lower costs for people with diabetes and blunt criticism of its pricing. But a new survey by a pair of lawmakers finds the new version is often out of stock at pharmacies, many of which were unaware the product was available. The findings prompted renewed criticism of the drug maker for failing to take steps to ensure its strategy would lower costs for consumers. (Silverman, 12/16)
The Wall Street Journal:
Lilly’s 2020 Financial Targets Top Wall Street Expectations
Eli Lilly set 2020 financial targets that are higher than Wall Street expectations as it anticipates regulatory approvals and drug launches next year, though it lowered its full-year outlook for 2019. The drugmaker on Tuesday said it expects 2020 revenue of $23.6 billion to $24.1 billion, ahead of the $23.49 billion analysts polled by FactSet are expecting. Should the company meet its revenue forecast, it said it would achieve or exceed the 7% revenue compound annual growth rate target it had set for the 2015 to 2020 period. (Sebastian, 12/17)
Patent Office Removes Lawyer From Case Involving Gilead HIV Medicine
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has removed a senior legal adviser from a high-profile case after she tweeted contentious remarks about the right of AIDS activists to challenge a patent-term extension sought by Gilead Sciences (GILD) for an HIV medicine. A spokesman for the federal agency told us that Mary Till, a 14-year employee who reviews extension requests, is “no longer working on the matter.” (Silverman, 12/13)
New Orleans Times-Picayune:
Three New Orleans Groups Awarded Grants To Fight HIV In 2020. Here's How They Plan To Use Them.
Multi-billion dollar drug company Gilead Sciences is awarding nearly a quarter of a million dollars to Louisiana groups fighting HIV in 2020, $163,000 of which will go to three New Orleans organizations. The grants are part of the company’s 10-year COMPASS Initiative, in which it has pledged to give a total of $100 million to community organizations in Southern United States to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic. (Poche, 12/17)
Kaiser Health News:
Listen: The Cost Of PrEP, The HIV Prevention Pill
KHN correspondent Shefali Luthra joined a discussion on the Vox podcast “Today, Explained” about the cost dynamics surrounding pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, a game-changing drug that prevents the transmission of HIV. Gilead Sciences — the manufacturer of the brand-name versions of this preventive medicine, such as Truvada and Descovy — seeks to extend its patent but faces pushback from federal lawmakers, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). (12/18)
PhRMA Sues Oregon Over Drug Pricing Laws, Calling Them 'Unconstitutional'
The trade group for the pharmaceutical industry has filed a lawsuit alleging a pair of Oregon laws is unconstitutional, the latest bid to push back against state efforts to shed more light on the rising cost of prescription medicines. One law required drug makers to notify the state when list prices rise by at least 10% or a new medicine is introduced that costs more than $670 for a month’s supply. (Silverman, 12/12)
The Wall Street Journal:
Drug Manufacturers Snap Up Gene-Therapy Companies
Drug manufacturers are in the market for gene-therapy companies, propelled by concerns about competition for their products and looking to acquire novel medicines that could treat or cure diseases by compensating for faulty genes that cause illnesses. Earlier this month, Japanese pharmaceutical company Astellas Pharma Inc. agreed to buyAudentes Therapeutics Inc. for $3 billion to gain a toehold in gene therapy and get the San Francisco-based company’s manufacturing capabilities. (Gormley, 12/16)
The CT Mirror:
Advocates Want To Recycle CT's Wasted Prescription Drugs. The State Says It's Already Doing That.
In the hot-button arena of health care, the group’s leaders are focused on a widespread issue – access to necessary-but-expensive prescription medication. Their plan seems like a no-brainer: Scoop up millions of dollars in wasted, unexpired drugs from the state’s nursing homes and prisons and re-route them to charity pharmacies that serve uninsured and underinsured residents. (Carlesso, 12/16)