Public Outraged Over Drug Prices Yet Fears Hampering Innovation
News outlets report on stories related to pharmaceutical drug pricing.
Americans Want Drug Price Controls, But Worry About Impeding Innovation
Although most Americans appear to favor price controls on medicines, a recent survey indicates there is also some hesitancy if such a move would limit innovation that produces new drugs. The findings suggest warnings issued by the pharmaceutical industry that price controls might impede the flow of needed salves have caught the attention of a growing swath of the public. Specifically, about 63 percent of adults do not want the government to control prices if that yields fewer innovative drugs, according to the survey of 1,240 adults released by Wells Fargo analyst David Maris. He noted there was little difference expressed regardless of the sex, age, or region of the country. In fact, 55 percent or more of each age bracket worried that innovation would suffer. (Silverman, 1/30)
CQ Roll Call:
The Pharmaceutical Industry's Favorite Democrat: Patty Murray
Patty Murray of Washington was among 13 Democrats who voted against moving forward with a Senate amendment to the fiscal 2017 budget resolution that would have laid the groundwork for reimportation of cheaper brand name pharmaceuticals from Canada. That earned them plenty of criticism from their left flank. “Their betrayal crushed one of the few remaining rays of hope for the millions of Americans whose health and financial security are endangered by the new Republican Congress,” Richard Eskow, a senior fellow at the Campaign for America’s Future, a liberal group, argued in his blog. Eskow went on to suggest that Murray voted the way she did because she’s received a lot of money from the drug industry. (Zeller, 1/30)
Merck Provides Data On Drug Prices, But It's Only A Peek
In the latest bid to pull the curtain back on drug pricing, Merck posted assorted data on its web site on Friday, although the company stopped short of providing details on specific medicines. ... The disclosure is another attempt by a drug maker to argue that prices may be rising, but a growing chunk is eaten up by middlemen, which keep some portion as profits, although insurers maintain givebacks get passed on to patients. This was the same argument that Mylan Pharmaceuticals chief executive Heather Bresch tried to make before Congress last year during a hearing over EpiPen. (Silverman, 1/27)
Concerns That Rosy Direct-To-Consumer Ads Hype Cancer Drugs To Vulnerable Patients
A few weeks ago, I was watching veg-out TV, quietly wondering to myself how a show called "Pure Genius" could be so darned dumb. Then a commercial break added a new sort of mystification: A long, vivid ad touted the cancer drug Opdivo, a form of immunotherapy — an exciting new type of treatment that harnesses the body's own immune system — for lung cancer. Well, a little longer; the fine print cited a study in which patients lived about three months longer. But for desperately ill patients, even a day longer matters. So the appeal was clear. What I couldn't understand was the economics: How could it make sense to blast a whole network TV audience with an ad made for a sliver of people with cancer? (Goldberg, 1/31)
As Cancer Drugs' Prices Skyrocket, Experts Worry About Burden On Patients, Health Systems
Leaders in cancer research say the field has reached a pivotal moment, including the discovery of new treatments. But, these new treatments come with a price tag that many experts believe is unsustainable. (Knox, 1/30)
Price Hikes For Some Generic Cancer Drugs In The UK Skyrocketed
Price gouging appears to be a growing problem in the UK, where price tags for generic versions of more than a dozen cancer medicines rose between 100 percent and 1,100 percent from 2011 to 2016, even though the drugs can be made for very little, according to a new analysis by UK researchers. The researchers found there was often a lack of competition for 14 off-patent medicines and, as a result, the outlays are straining the UK’s National Health Service at a time when cancer drugs are being rationed. (Silverman, 1/30)
Old Cancer Drug Gets 1,227% Price Hike In Frugal U.K.
The chemotherapy known as busulfan is more than six decades old, and part of doctors’ standard arsenal against leukemia. It’s not scarce, and by all accounts, it should be dirt cheap. Instead, its price has soared like that of a prized antique. Busulfan cost 1,227 percent more last year than in 2011 in the U.K. And it isn’t the only medicine whose price has unexpectedly surged in one of the world’s most tightly-controlled markets for health spending. Melphalan, a chemotherapy in use for ovarian cancer since the 1950s, had a 315 percent cost increase in the same period, according to researchers at the University of Liverpool, who reviewed 89 products. (Kresge, Paton and Langreth, 1/30)
The Wall Street Journal:
Pfizer Revenue Falls As Full-Year Sales Seen Below Wall Street Estimates
Pfizer Inc. revenue declined in the latest quarter as sales of its top-selling product dropped, while the company’s sales outlook for this year fell below Wall Street’s expectations. Worldwide sales of Pfizer’s pneumonia vaccine Prevnar fell 24% to $1.4 billion in the quarter, which the company attributed to many eligible patients already being vaccinated. Pfizer also cited the smaller and unfavorable timing of government purchases. (Rockoff and Hufford, 1/31)
Japan's Takeda Committed To Single-Digit U.S. Drug Price Rises
Japan's largest drugmaker, Takeda Pharmaceuticals Co, on Wednesday said it would maintain its pricing model in the U.S. market, brushing off demands by U.S. President Donald Trump for drugmakers to offer cheaper drugs. "Takeda has for many years been reasonable in its price increases in the U.S. and we are very committed to single-digit price increase," Takeda Chief Executive Christophe Weber told reporters at a results briefing. (Tajitsu, 2/1)
For Allergan CEO, Immigration Ban Comes Down To 'Right Versus Wrong'
Once again, Brent Saunders is standing out from the pharma c-suite crowd. Over the weekend, the Allergan chief executive was the only head of a major drug maker to publicly say anything about the highly controversial Trump immigration ban. And what Saunders had to say was not supportive, at all, of the move: Allergan, he tweeted, “is strong & bold b/c of diversity. Oppose any policy that puts limitations on our ability to attract the best & diverse talent.” (Silverman, 1/30)