Perspectives: Getting Generics To Market Faster Will Help Drug Prices, But Is Public Shaming The Way To Go?
Read recent commentaries about drug-cost issues.
Make Drugs Cheaper By Encouraging Generics
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb says he’s not looking to shame brand-name drug companies into providing generic drugmakers with the samples they need to create copies. It’s hard to see what else he has in mind by publishing a list of companies that generics makers say aren’t playing ball. If pushing the big pharmaceutical companies to allow more competition from generics is indeed his goal, it’s a good one. Getting generic medicines to market faster could go a long way toward lowering exorbitant drug prices in the U.S. But whether Gottlieb’s effort to shine daylight on the companies’ “shenanigans,” as he puts it, will work is an open question. (5/22)
The Washington Post:
Trump’s Plan Won’t Lower Prescription Drug Prices. Ours Would.
The drug price reforms that President Trump recently proposed are as potent as a placebo, but not as harmless. Trump once blustered that drug firms were “getting away with murder,” but his real-life plan caused pharmaceutical stocks to surge as investors foresaw even higher prices and profits ahead. The president stepped away from his earlier promises to allow Medicare to negotiate prices, while vowing to fight for higher drug prices abroad — a gold mine for the industry that would do nothing to reduce drug prices at home. (Adam Gaffney, 5/23)
For Cancer Patients, Trump's Drug Pricing Proposal Falls Short
President Trump’s long-awaited plan to reduce the costs of prescription drugs calls for a comprehensive set of reforms, including redesigning the patent system to prevent drug monopolies, uncloaking the role of pharmacy benefit managers, and charging foreign governments more for brand name drugs. He also proposed bringing more negotiation tactics into Medicare Part D and Part B, which cover most cancer therapies.In the abstract, these approaches seem to make sense. But as oncologists, we see how they play out in the clinic and how they affect patients. While we support an effort to bring value across the health care ecosystem, the president’s plan needs to go further to help people with cancer. (Steven Kalkanis and Jonathan Trent, 5/22)
Paying The Price For Insulin
he debate about drug costs can be hard to follow because it is both broad and deep. Between patients not being able to afford their medication, the role of “middlemen” (pharmacy benefit managers), and lawyers filing class-action lawsuits, the topic is complex and can be emotional for many. I’d like to put it into perspective with insulin, a lifesaving drug used by most of my patients — and millions of Americans — that is a perfect case study of the drug pricing issue. (Irl Hirsch, 5/17)
Vermont’s Long-Shot Drug Price Plan
Vermont has pipe-dreamed for years about combating sky-high prescription drug prices by importing pharmaceuticals from Canada, but perhaps never has the effort seemed more quixotic than at present. Nonetheless, the Legislature passed and Gov. Phil Scott signed into law last week a bill that would create a wholesale drug importation scheme with the state’s neighbor to the north, a first-in-the-nation program. “I’m in favor of doing whatever we can do to reduce cost for Vermonters,” Scott said. (5/22)
Why Trump’s Plan Will Not Cut Drug Prices
Populists often put their finger on problems that irk their countrymen. They also tend to come up with inadequate solutions to them. So it is with President Donald Trump’s plan, unveiled on May 11th, to lower the price of prescription drugs. Drugs are more expensive in America than anywhere else. A month’s supply of Harvoni, which cures hepatitis C, costs $32,114 in America and $16,861 in Switzerland. Some cancer drugs can cost more than $150,000 a year. Mr Trump campaigned on a promise to reduce prices. He suggested that he would make it easier to import drugs from abroad and would force drug companies to lower prices for Americans, using the state’s bargaining power to save $300bn a year—preposterous, given that this is almost the entire sum the government spends on drugs. Nevertheless, his promises may have helped Mr Trump win the support of the majority of older voters. (5/19)
How A Migraine Drug Is Easing The Headache Of High Prices
Drug prices in the U.S. will continue to be the highest in the world for some time to come, President Trump’s plan notwithstanding. But an unexpected move from Amgen Inc. suggests some progress is being made at the source on bringing down costs. The company’s new migraine drug Aimovig, which will be sold in collaboration with Novartis AG, was approved Thursday evening by the FDA. The drug, which can substantially cut headache frequency and severity, will cost $6,900 a year rather than $10,000 or more as some predicted. (Max Nisen, 5/18)
The Washington Post:
Bloomberg Reporter Pulls Out Of Interview With PhRMA Boss At Atlantic Event
What self-respecting health-care reporter wouldn’t want a one-on-one interview with Stephen Ubl, president and chief executive of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America? PhRMA is among the top 10 D.C. lobbies, having spent some $350 million since the late 1990s, according to OpenSecrets.org. It laid out a record amount in recent months fighting drug-price legislation in Congress. So Bloomberg News reporter Cynthia Koons said yes to the opportunity to corner Ubl at the Wednesday conference “The State of Care: Patient Access & Affordability,” organized by the prolific-as-heck events team at the Atlantic. “When journalists have the opportunity to sit down with our CEO, they certainly will ask the tough questions,” says Holly Campbell, PhRMA’s deputy vice president for public affairs. Not in this case: Koons recently withdrew from the event. (Erik Wemple, 5/22)
CVS-Aetna, Cigna-Express Scripts Deals Will Consolidate Control Of Medicare Drug Benefits
The control of administering drug benefits for the elderly who buy Medicare Part D plans is rapidly dwindling to just a few health firms as consolidation sweeps the health insurance and drug benefit management industry.If the health insurer Cigna successfully completes its acquisition of the PBM Express Scripts and CVS Health pulls off its purchase of Aetna, nearly three in four seniors will have drug benefits controlled by just four companies , a new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows. (Bruce Japsen, 5/22)