Senate Democrats Will Start Fresh On Drug Pricing Legislation
Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden has spent years trying to push through pharmaceutical drug pricing reforms. But in the current climate, he is ditching previous efforts and has taken on the task of trying to craft a new package.
Top Senate Democrat Heads Back To Drawing Board On Drug Pricing
A powerful Democratic committee chair is starting to work on a new drug pricing package, rather than advancing an existing bill — an onerous effort, but one that may be Democrats’ best hope for substantive action this Congress. Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a longtime advocate of drug pricing reform, said he will take on the unenviable task of working to build a drug pricing package that can get unanimous support among his Democratic colleagues, rather than pushing ahead with a more aggressive House proposal or a more modest, bipartisan package he painstakingly crafted over years. (Cohrs, 4/30)
AbbVie CEO To Testify Before Congress About Drug Pricing Tactics
As part of its probe into pharmaceutical industry pricing tactics, a Congressional committee next month plans to hold a hearing and grill AbbVie (ABBV) chief executive officer Richard Gonzalez, whose company at one point faced a subpoena for refusing to cooperate with the investigation. The move comes after the House Committee on Oversight and Reform last fall released a series of reports detailing how different drug makers engaged in “anticompetitive conduct” to maintain high prices and market share for expensive medicines. The effort reflects concern over rising prescription drug prices and Congressional interest in any illegal strategies companies use to thwart competition. (Silverman, 4/29)
In related news about the high cost of drugs and health care —
Global Drug Spending Could Hit $1.6 Trillion By 2025
Global spending on medicines is forecast to grow between 3% and 6% annually and reach roughly $1.6 trillion in sales by 2025 — and this does not include another $157 billion that is expected to be spent on Covid-19 vaccines largely over the next couple of years, according to a new report. Almost all countries are expected to see a slowdown in their rate of annual spending through 2025 compared with the previous five-year period. Spending by upper-middle or high-income countries is expected to rise 2% to 5% through 2025, which is similar to what was seen over the past five years. Spending by China, however, is forecast to increase by 6.2%. (Silverman, 4/29)
Survey: Businesses Want Government To Lower Healthcare Costs
More than four in five top executives at large employers said the government must take a greater role in providing health insurance and controlling costs during the next decade, according to a survey on Thursday from the Purchaser Business Group on Health and the Kaiser Family Foundation with support from the West Health Institute. A similar number said it would be better for their business and employees. It's the latest sign that employers are growing increasingly desperate to rein in rising healthcare costs and spending. According to PBGH, annual family premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance increased 55% from 2010 to 2020, reaching $21,342 in 2020. The average single employee deductible increased from $917 to $1,644 among workers with a deductible that period. (Brady, 4/29)
GoodRx Helps People Afford Drugs. But Is It Improving Health Care Or Profiting Off A Broken System?
Brad White has taken esomeprazole, the generic version of Nexium, to treat his acid reflux, for years. A retired school administrator living in Southlake, Texas, White has insurance, and so when he drove through his local CVS to pick up the prescription earlier this year, he was shocked when the clerk told him he owed $490 for a three-month supply. He wasn’t quite sure what he had paid before—he’d been receiving the prescription by mail and had set up automated payments—and he knew the pills would cost him more until he met his $3,000 deductible. But paying nearly $500 for a few months of a generic drug just struck him as outrageous. He drove off without his prescription, to “regroup.” (Fry, 4/29)