Hospitals Jumping At The Chance To Provide Miracle Drugs, But With That Comes Financial Uncertainty
News outlets report on stories related to pharmaceutical pricing.
Hospitals Are Saving Lives With CAR-T. Getting Paid Is Another Story
For about seven months, doctors at Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center have been treating patients with CAR-T therapy, a cutting-edge medical procedure that uses a person’s own cells to fight against their cancer. It’s a last-ditch effort that can cure patients who have run out of any other options, but it’s pricey — the medicines themselves cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and the extended hospital stay can bring the total bill much higher. (Swetlitz, 3/12)
Bristol Scrambles To Push Celgene Deal. Are The Odds That High?
Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) management last Friday called a meeting with Wall Street analysts in what one described as a “semi-urgent fashion” in hopes of convincing investors that its $74 billion bid for Celgene (CELG) really is a good deal. But even after the session, Tim Anderson of Wolfe Research signaled that the odds the transaction will close are “not as high as some are thinking.” The move came a week after two funds opposed the proposal, arguing Bristol stockholders are being asked to accept too much risk, because the transaction is priced “well below” asset value, and “could be more difficult to achieve than depicted” by Bristol management. (Silverman, 3/11)
Kaiser Health News:
Generic Humalog Insulin: A New Option, 'Not A Panacea'
When Erin Gilmer filled her insulin prescription at a Denver-area Walgreens in January, she paid $8.50. U.S. taxpayers paid another $280.51. She thinks the price of insulin is too high. "It eats at me to know that taxpayer money is being wasted," says Gilmer, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes while a sophomore at the University of Colorado in 2002. The diagnosis meant that for the rest of her life she'd require daily insulin shots to stay alive. But the price of that insulin is skyrocketing. (Sable-Smith, 3/10)
Insulin Has Become Unaffordable. Patients Are Dying In Their Efforts To Ration Doses
Six million Americans rely on insulin to survive. Many can no longer afford it. What happens when big pharma, big profits and strong patent laws lead to dying patients? (Chakrabarti, 3/6)
Key Republican Says Dems Left Him Out Of Process On Drug Pricing Bills
A key House Republican on Tuesday indicated he will not support bills to lower drug prices that will be considered on Wednesday, arguing that Democrats did not include him in the process. Drug pricing is one of the top areas where lawmakers from both parties think they could work together in a bipartisan way this year. But the comments from Rep. Michael Burgess (Texas), the top Republican on the Energy and Commerce health subcommittee, indicate that a hearing on the bills on Wednesday will still have some partisan divisions. (Sullivan, 3/12)
US Core Inflation February 2019: Cools On Auto, Drug Prices
A key measure of underlying U.S. inflation unexpectedly eased in February amid falling prices for autos and prescription drugs, giving the Federal Reserve more room to stick to its plan for being patient on raising interest rates. Excluding food and energy, the so-called core consumer price index rose 0.1 percent from the prior month and 2.1 percent from a year earlier, according to a Labor Department report Tuesday. Those figures trailed the median estimates of economists. The broader CPI rose 0.2 percent from January, the first increase in four months, though the 1.5 percent annual gain missed projections and was the smallest rise since 2016. (Kearns, 3/12)
Retail Prescription Drug Spending Grew By $90 Billion
Net spending for retail prescription drug coverage increased from $250.7 billion in 2012 to $341 billion in 2016, according to a new study. Pew Charitable Trusts followed the flow of dollars through the pharmaceutical supply chain, finding that patients are paying more for drugs through their premium dollars, pharmacy benefit managers have passed a growing share of manufacturer rebates to health plans and net pharmacy revenue has more than doubled. (Kacik, 3/8)
Tampa Bay Times:
DeSantis Proposal To Import Canadian Prescription Drugs Clears First House Committee
A bill building off Gov. Ron DeSantis’ call to import prescription drugs from Canada cleared its first committee stop Tuesday, amid ongoing concerns from some lawmakers about how a potential program would be structured and how much it might save Floridians and the state. The House Health Quality subcommittee voted 12-2 to advance HB 19, which would direct the state Agency for Health Care Administration, via a vendor, to establish a list of drugs and Canadian suppliers that might yield savings for the state. (Koh, 3/12)
Pfizer Pays $975,000 To Settle Charges Over Copay Coupons
As controversy swirls over the use of pharmaceutical coupons, Pfizer (PFE) has agreed to pay $975,000 to settle charges of misleading people who wound up spending much more than expected when they used coupons supplied by the drug maker. This marked the second time in recent months that Pfizer took such a step. Last October, the company reached a $700,000 settlement with New York State over similar allegations. (Silverman, 3/11)
The Star Tribune:
Minnesota Employers Target High Medication Prices With 'Playbook'
A coalition of Minnesota employers has developed what it calls a “playbook” for tackling drug-price increases, a guide to working with vendors that highlights how health plan expenses have been inflated by the tangled supply chain for pharmaceuticals. The local group’s effort comes as the Trump administration has proposed lowering consumer prices for medicines by changing the system of rebates between drug companies and pharmaceutical benefit manufacturers (PBMs), which manage drug benefits within employer health plans. (Snowbeck, 3/8)
Hedge Fund Investing $100M In Harvard Drug Research
Researchers at Harvard University who want to take drug discoveries from the lab to the market may soon get an infusion of cash. The university plans to announce a partnership Wednesday with Deerfield Management, a health care hedge fund firm that has pledged $100 million to invest in promising potential drugs. (Saltzman, 3/13)
Maine Lawmakers Introduce New Legislation To Lower Prescription Drug Prices
Maine lawmakers are introducing new legislation to lower prescription drug prices. (Merrill, 3/12)
Why Italy's Health Minister Urges Global Transparency On Drug Prices
Last month, the Italian government asked the World Health Assembly to adopt a resolution to require drug makers to disclose their R&D and production costs, as well as prices charged for medicines and vaccines. Italian health minister Giulia Grillo wrote to the World Health Organization that “international action is required to improve transparency” in order to widen access to pharmaceuticals. (Silverman, 3/12)