One Option States Are Pursuing To Lower Drug Costs: Treat Pharma Like A Public Utility
News outlets report on stories related to pharmaceutical pricing.
A Growing Number Of States Consider Legislation To Treat Pharma As A Utility
As prescription drug costs continue to frazzle Americans, lawmakers in several states are pushing to create commissions that would set prices that health plans, pharmacies, and state programs would pay for medicines, much like the rate-setting bodies that control public utilities. Over the past year, legislation was introduced in three states — Maryland, New Jersey, and Minnesota — and advocacy groups are seeking legislators to introduce bills in at least two more states — Maine and Oregon — in coming weeks, according to sources familiar with the efforts. (Silverman, 10/10)
'No Silver Bullet' For The Drug Pricing Conundrum
President Donald Trump’s campaign promise to rein in soaring prescription drug costs helped propel him into office, and even earned him some accolades from Democratic lawmakers — like Rep. Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland — who cheered his support for letting Medicare negotiate drug prices. Trump has since abandoned that call. Instead, his administration has taken a series of minor steps outlined in a drug pricing “blueprint” geared toward promoting lower prices through competition — a solution more in the traditional GOP vein. (Clason, 10/15)
The Wall Street Journal:
By Adding Patents, Drugmaker Keeps Cheaper Humira Copies Out Of U.S.
Cheaper copies of the world’s biggest-selling drug will roll out across Europe this week after a key European patent for Humira expires Tuesday, but U.S. patients and insurers will have to wait to access less-expensive versions of the blockbuster drug. The reason: a formidable wall of patents built up by Humira-maker AbbVie Inc., that prevents the developers of “biosimilar” versions launching their products in the U.S. (Loftus and Roland, 10/16)
Cost-Effectiveness Watchdog May Sell Drug Makers 'Early Scientific Advice'
For the past few years, the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review has filled an important void in the U.S. by assessing the extent to which new medicines — notably, high-priced treatments — may be cost effective. But a plan to charge drug makers for advice prior to product launches prompted skepticism from a Wall Street analyst who believes such a move would, if nothing else, help the pharmaceutical industry. (Silverman, 10/15)
Merck Scraps Plans To Sell A Biosimilar Of Lantus In Crowded Insulin Market
In an unexpected move, Merck (MRK) scrapped plans to market a biosimilar version of the widely used Lantus insulin only a year after winning tentative U.S. regularly approval. The decision was disclosed in a regulatory filing by Samsung Bioepis, its development and commercialization partner, which noted Merck “suddenly” canceled their contract and returned $155 million. Merck subsequently explained in a statement that the about-face was prompted after assessing the “anticipated pricing and cost of production.” Although Merck was also locked in patent litigation with Sanofi (SNY), which sells Lantus and had prevented a timely product launch, the move underscores the increasingly crowded insulin market confronting drug makers. (Silverman, 10/12)
Bredesen Outlines Plan To Lower Prescription Drug Prices In United States
With an overt attempt at bipartisanship that touches on President Donald Trump's "America first" approach to governing, Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Phil Bredesen announced a proposal Tuesday aimed at lowering drug costs in the United States. Speaking to the Economic Club of Nashville at a Tuesday event inside Bridgestone Arena, Bredesen outlined a plan that he said would significantly lower the price of prescriptions for Americans. (Ebert, 10/16)
Is Pa. Getting Shortchanged On Drug Costs? Legislators Want To Know.
Is the state of Pennsylvania paying far more than it should for prescription drugs? The auditor general is looking into that possibility, and a hearing Tuesday before the state senate health and human services committee will examine the companies at the center of the inquiry: the pharmacy benefit managers that handle many aspects of prescription benefits for health plans, including Pennsylvania's Medicaid program. (Dunn, 10/16)
Price Hikes Contributed A Lot To Sales Growth For The Biggest-Selling Drugs
Despite all the debate over prescription drug costs, what is not always clear is just how much price hikes matter to the pharmaceutical industry. And a new analysis finds, not surprisingly, they matter a lot. Overall, price increases contributed a whopping 61 percent of the 28 percent growth in U.S. sales for 45 of the biggest-selling medicines over the past three years. Put another way, price hikes generated roughly $14.3 billion of the $23.3 billion in sales growth for those medicines from 2014 to 2017, according to a report by Leerink analyst Geoffrey Porges. (Silverman, 10/10)
The Wall Street Journal:
Prescription Drugs Power Johnson & Johnson Results
But sales were less impressive in the New Jersey-based health-care conglomerate’s other two units, with consumer-product sales up 1.8% and medical-device sales down 0.2% for the quarter. “Our positive view on pharma is offset by ongoing challenges to the company’s medical device and consumer franchises,” JPMorgan analyst Chris Schott wrote in a research note. “While today’s consumer results were encouraging, we believe it remains too early to call for a broad recovery in these businesses.” (Loftus and Chin, 10/16)
J&J Beats Profit Estimates, Lifts Outlook On Pharma Unit Strength
Johnson & Johnson reported slightly better-than-expected third quarter profit and raised its full-year forecast on Tuesday as increased demand for cancer drugs and immune disorder treatments powered strong results for its pharmaceutical unit. Shares of the healthcare conglomerate were up 2.3 percent at $137 in morning trading after it raised its adjusted 2018 earnings forecast to a range of $8.13 to $8.18 per share from a prior view of $8.07 to $8.17. (Mishra, 10/16)
UnitedHealth Bought Pharmacy Avella To Build Optum Unit
UnitedHealth Group Inc. bought Avella Specialty Pharmacy last quarter, a previously undisclosed deal by the health-services giant that will further boost its already-growing pharmacy offerings. Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, and UnitedHealth declined to provide any further details about the takeover, which was identified in the company’s third-quarter earnings press release on Tuesday. (Tozzi, 10/16)
The Wall Street Journal:
Roche Sales Buoyed By New Drugs
Swiss pharmaceuticals giant Roche Holding AG said Wednesday that its nine-month group sales rose on year, buoyed by new drugs. The Basel, Switzerland-based company said its nine-month group sales rose to 42.08 billion Swiss francs ($42.55 billion) up from CHF39.43 billion the year before. In the pharmaceuticals division, sales rose to CHF32.70 billion, up from CHF30.63 billion the year before. In a conference call with reporters, Roche Chief Executive Severin Schwan said 90% of that growth came from new medicines. (Mancini, 10/17)