Pharma Is Pocketing More Profits Even As Outrage About Costs Boils Over, Report Finds
News outlets report on stories related to pharmaceutical pricing.
Lawmakers Who Scold Pharma For Price Gouging Get Some New Ammunition
As anger rose over prescription drug prices, two Washington lawmakers criticized drug makers for taking advantage of Americans, but wanted numbers to back up their claims. Now a new government report, which they requested, provide those numbers — and also potential ammunition in the fight over drug prices. From 2006 to 2015, global sales for the pharmaceutical industry, including biotech companies, jumped 45 percent to $775 billion. Two-thirds of all drug makers experienced rising profit margins, which averaged 17 percent in 2015. And from 2008 through 2014, worldwide R&D spending — most of which went to drug development, rather than research — increased 8.5 percent, to $89 billion. (Silverman, 12/19)
The Washington Post:
This Old Drug Was Free. Now It’s $109,500 A Year.
For decades, Don Anderson of Seattle has been taking the same drug to help control the temporary bouts of immobility and muscle weakness caused by a rare and frightening genetic illness called periodic paralysis. “It's like putting a 50-pound pack on your back and standing up at the dinner table,” Anderson, 73, said. “It's like wearing lead shoes around all the time. ”The drug Anderson has been taking all these years was originally approved in 1958 and used primarily to treat the eye disease glaucoma under the brand name Daranide, its price so unremarkable that he can't quite remember how much it cost at the pharmacy counter. (Johnson, 12/18)
Amazon Hasn’t Figured Out Drugstores Yet. But It Will Have To
For months now, pharmacy and health benefits companies have fretted that they’re the next targets of Jeff Bezos’s disruption steamroller. In September Amazon.com Inc. acquired Whole Foods Market, a grocery chain that could theoretically add drug counters to stores; a month later came word that the e-commerce giant had secured pharmacy licenses in more than a dozen states. Analysts issued dire warnings; shares see-sawed. ...No clear strategy has emerged, according to three people familiar with the company’s plans, because Amazon hasn’t yet figured out how to shake up a notoriously complex business. So for the time being Amazon is focused on the $200 billion market for medical supplies. The company already sells bulk packs of latex gloves, bed pads and syringes; now it’s getting into medical devices and instruments. (Soper and Chen, 12/18)
Those Calculators For The True Value Of A Drug? They Could Backfire
In this era of concern about soaring health care spending, economists have raced to devise calculators to capture the true value of a drug — and sometimes concluded that pricey therapies may not be worth their cost. But how accurate are these calculators? A new white paper, released on Thursday by an organization that’s partly funded by drug and diagnostics makers contends that such value measures are usually deeply flawed and could inadvertently set back the push to personalize care. But a group that developed one such calculator critiqued by the new report told STAT that the white paper mischaracterizes its work. (Robbins, 12/14)
A Bipartisan Approach On Drug Prices Is Emerging
While soaring prescription costs have drawn fire from across the political spectrum, action has been scant. There are signs however that a consensus is forming on Capitol Hill on how to curtail tactics that shield blockbuster medicines from competition. Among industry practices lawmakers are taking a critical look at are paying competitors to keep new generics on the sidelines and making minor tweaks to drugs to extend their patent life. Safety programs that keep rivals from accessing a medicine, effectively blocking generic versions by making drugs harder to copy, are also drawing scrutiny. (Edney, 12/14)
Kaiser Health News:
Drug Industry Spent Millions To Squelch Talk About High Drug Prices
Facing bipartisan hostility over high drug prices in an election year, the pharma industry’s biggest trade group boosted revenue by nearly a fourth last year and spread the millions collected among hundreds of lobbyists, politicians and patient groups, new filings show. It was the biggest surge for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, known as PhRMA, since the group took battle stations to advance its interests in 2009 during the run-up to the Affordable Care Act. (Hancock, 12/19)
Fighting The Public Health Threat Of Counterfeit Drugs
Fake pharmaceuticals are a multi-billion dollar problem around the world. Made and packaged to look like the real deal, these phonies may contain a fraction of the active ingredients or none at all. these fake drugs can have serious consequences in countries with tenuous health care, as well as in the developed world. (Lazaro, 12/14)
A Former Biotech CEO Used The Company As A 'Personal Piggy Bank'
A small drug maker settled charges by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission of accounting and disclosure violations, including a failure to report millions of dollars in perks that were actually compensation to its former chief executive officer and chief financial officer. As a result, Provectus Biopharmaceuticals (PVCT) shareholders did not have a complete or accurate financial picture of the company. The agency alleged that former Provectus chief executive Craig Dees treated the company like his “personal piggy bank,” using roughly $3.2 million he received from 2011 to early 2016 to pay for business travel that he never took. (Silverman, 12/13)
Some Healthcare Industry Middlemen Will Get Squeezed Out If They Don't Adapt And Prove Their Value.
Certain healthcare industry middlemen including pharmacy benefit managers, drug wholesalers and insurers will get squeezed out if they don't adapt and reaffirm their value, according to a new report from PricewaterhouseCoopers. Intermediaries like PBMs that work for payers to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies on the price of their products have been targeted for their role in huge price hikes that have plagued the industry. These middlemen should increase price transparency, deliver better pharmaceutical and clinical data to boost patient care, and diversify their business lines to secure their place in the industry, PwC's Health Research Institute said in its annual report issued Tuesday. (Kacik, 12/12)
Cleveland Plain Dealer:
Formulary Exclusion Lists Make It Harder For Patients To Get Prescriptions
Insurance companies use formulary exclusion lists to dictate which prescriptions are covered, and the number of medications on those lists continues to grow as prescription insurers try to cut costs. As a result, patients are being denied prescriptions or being forced to switch to new treatment plans, despite what their doctor initially recommends. (Christ, 12/15)
Biosimilars May Get To Market Still Faster, Thanks To Another Court Ruling
In a decision with implications for health care costs, a federal appeals court ruled drug makers cannot use state laws to punish their biosimilar rivals from withholding information about their medicines. The ruling came in response to opposing views of a procedure found in the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act, which is supposed to determine when biosimilar drugs can be launched. A biosimilar drug is a nearly identical variant of a biologic and is expected to provide the same result in patients. (Silverman, 12/14)
Medicare To Scrutinize Prescription Drug Plans
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services may hire a contractor to track whether the companies that sell Medicare prescription drug plans are doing a good enough job, according to a document that outlines potential contractor tasks. Between the lines: Many Medicare drug plans have been reprimanded for some serious violations, and CMS wants to figure out what's going on. Seniors and disabled people who buy the plans often complain about bad service and inappropriate denials of drug coverage. (Herman, 12/14)
How Alex Azar Could Try To Shake Up Drug Prices Through Medicare Part B
Alex Azar might have big plans to overhaul how Medicare pays for drugs. At a congressional hearing at the end of November, the nominee to be secretary of Health and Human Services wondered aloud about how to modify a government health insurance program that helps tens of millions of Americans over the age of 65 pay for medicines. Such changes might impact the price of the drugs across the board. (Swetlitz, 12/12)