Legislation Curbing Drug Prices Was Supposed To Be One Of Few Bipartisan Wins This Year. Yet It Still Didn’t Happen.
It’s a congressional letdown that highlights the difficulty of legislating in a divided Washington and in taking on the powerful pharmaceutical industry. In other pharmaceutical news: doctors' financial links to pharma, Medicaid approval for a sickle cell treatment, the Ebola vaccine, and electronic records.
Washington Was Supposed To Lower Drug Prices In 2019. What Happened?
Lawmakers of all stripes made an agreement the day following the midterm elections last November: While they might not agree on much, they would work together to lower prescription drug prices. The message came from Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker-in-waiting; Mitch McConnell, the Senate’s Republican majority leader; and from President Trump. All agreed: Even in a deeply polarized Washington, drug pricing would top the 2019 agenda. (Facher and Florko, 12/20)
Doctors Prescribe More Of A Drug If They Receive Money From A Pharma Company Tied To It
Doctors who receive money from drugmakers related to a specific drug prescribe that drug more heavily than doctors without such financial ties, a new ProPublica analysis found. The pattern is consistent for almost all of the most widely prescribed brand-name drugs in Medicare, including drugs that treat diabetes, asthma and more. The financial interactions include payments for delivering promotional talks, consulting and receiving sponsored meals and travel. (Fresques, 12/20)
We’ve Been Tracking Pharma Payments To Doctors For Nearly A Decade. We Just Made A Big Breakthrough.
Next year will mark the 10th anniversary of ProPublica’s Dollars for Docs, our ambitious effort to track pharmaceutical company payments to doctors. When we started, we were thrilled to gain access to what seven drug companies paid physicians for speaking and consulting and to collect payment information in a first-of-its-kind database that allowed everyone to search for their doctors in one place. Now, federal law requires every drug and medical device maker, about 1,700 companies, to release information on their payments. (Ornstein, 12/20)
Novartis Wins Medicaid Approval For New Sickle Cell Drug In Key U.S. States
Novartis AG has secured Medicaid coverage for a pricey new sickle cell disease therapy in two U.S. states just weeks after winning U.S. approval, following an early campaign to convince local officials of its value, according to a company executive and a Reuters review of public filings. The approvals from the Florida and Alabama Medicaid health programs for the poor and disabled mark exceptionally fast acceptance for the treatment, which can cost up to $113,000 annually for an individual patient, excluding discounts, said Ameet Mallik, who heads the Swiss drugmaker's U.S. oncology division. (12/20)
Merck Says Ebola Vaccine To Be Available At Lowest Access Price For Poor Nations
Merck & Co said on Friday it expects to make licensed doses of its recently approved Ebola vaccine available in the third quarter of 2020 and price the single-dose injection at the lowest possible access price for poor and middle-income countries. The vaccine, Ervebo, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday, a month after Europe gave its nod to the vaccine, a move that has been hailed by the World Health Organization. (12/20)
The Wall Street Journal:
Drugmakers Turn To Data Mining To Avoid Expensive, Lengthy Drug Trials
Drugmakers are trying to win drug approvals by parsing vast data sets of electronic medical records, shifting away from lengthy, and costly, clinical trials in patients. Pfizer Inc., Johnson & Johnson and Amgen Inc. are among the drugmakers that have submitted the data-mining analyses to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in seeking approval to sell new medicines or for new uses for older ones. The FDA has approved new uses for breast cancer, bladder cancer and leukemia drugs in part based on the data. (Loftus, 12/23)