Drug Companies Announce Hefty Price Increases In Move Critics Say Is Tone Deaf In Current Landscape
Public and congressional anger is high when it comes to drug costs, but price tags continue to rise. Meanwhile, CVS Health pushes back against HHS Secretary Alex Azar's comments that the company is standing in the way of lower costs.
Trump Promised Drug Makers Would Lower Their Prices, But Not All Did
On May 30, President Trump promised that “some” of the big drug makers would announce “voluntary, massive drops in prices” in two weeks. But not everyone in the pharmaceutical industry got the memo. Since last Friday, two large purveyors — Pfizer (PFE) and Teva Pharmaceuticals (TEVA) — both took hefty price hikes on numerous medicines, as did several other companies. (Silverman, 7/3)
CVS Health CEO 'Surprised' By Azar's Comments On Drug Prices
CVS Health says it is not standing in the way of lower drug prices, pushing back on comments Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar made last week. Larry Merlo, president and CEO of CVS Health, wrote in a letter to Azar that he was "surprised" to hear him say pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) — companies that manage insurance plans for employers and insurers — are standing in the way of lower drug prices in order to protect their bottom lines. (Hellmann, 7/3)
And in other pharmaceutical news —
The Washington Post:
The Health 202: 'Gag Clauses' Mean You Might Be Paying More For Prescription Drugs Than You Need To.
Using your insurance plan isn’t always the cheapest way to buy prescription drugs. But your pharmacist might be banned from telling you that. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are seeking ways to stop a practice that can keep customers from saving money at the drugstore counter. “Gag clauses” buried in the fine print of pharmacy contracts — and imposed by pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) — prevent many pharmacists from telling customers when the cash price for a medicine may be less expensive than their insurance co-pay unless the customers directly ask. Ending “gag clauses” is just one option as Republicans and Democrats attempt to find ways to lower the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs — both a problem for the health-care system and a political headache for both parties. (Firozi, 7/5)
Biotech's New Big Idea For Making Cancer Immunotherapy Work Better
The drug industry has made a mint on immunotherapies for cancer, but those game-changing treatments don’t work for most people’s tumors. That has set in motion a scientific gold rush, as biotech companies search for molecules they can add to those drugs to turn them into universal therapies. The latest promising candidate is TGF-beta, a thorny collection of proteins that regulates a host of bodily functions. Among them is the process by which the immune system decides to either attack cancerous growths or let them pass idly by. (Garde, 7/5)