Senators Challenge Azar On Assertion That Middlemen Are Preventing Drugmakers From Lowering Prices
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) are seeking a response from the secretary of Health and Human Services about his answers in recent congressional testimony.
Senators Challenge Azar Over His Comments About PBMs And Price Cuts
In a sharply worded letter, two lawmakers are challenging Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar over his recent comments about drug makers and their insistence that pharmacy benefit managers and distributors were making it difficult to lower prices. The missive was sent in response to testimony Azar gave two months ago at two different Senate committee hearings, in which he described how drug makers contacted by the Trump administration expressed willingness to lower prices, but claimed they were thwarted by various middleman in the pharmaceutical chain. (Silverman, 8/17)
Never Mind Rebates. Maybe Fees Are Boosting Drug Prices
At a time when rebates are increasingly blamed for rising medicine costs, another type of behind-the-scenes payment in the pharmaceutical supply chain is being cited as an explanation for high drug prices — the various fees that pharmacy benefit managers charge drug makers. Unlike rebates, there are certain circumstances when fees are not required by federal law to be individually reported for medicines purchased for the Medicare Part D program. As a result, their effect on pricing is not fully known, since contracts between drug makers and PBMs are kept confidential. (Silverman, 8/16)
Rebates Don't Correlate To Drug Price Spikes, AHIP Study Says
As scrutiny tightens on drug middlemen and the significance of their role in spiking drug costs within Medicare Part D, health insurers are hitting back. A new Milliman study commissioned by America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) downplayed the overall impact of rebates offered by drugmakers to insurers and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) on total drug spending. The report blamed spiking costs on lack of competition. (Luthi, 8/16)
And the question of drug pricing reverberates in Ohio's Medicaid program.
Ohio Medicaid Drug Audit Calls For Transparency, Highlights Pharmacy Closures
Two days after the Ohio Department of Medicaid took a dramatic step in an attempt shed light on Medicaid drug expenditures, Auditor Dave Yost called for a pause. After tense exchanges with the administration of fellow Republican Gov. John Kasich, Yost said Thursday he agrees that more transparency is needed in the system. But Yost said he's worried that the administration's approach will cost taxpayers more money. ... But the Medicaid department said the move it undertook Tuesday — ordering its five managed-care plans to end spread pricing and simply pay pharmacy benefit managers a set fee — is the best way to puncture the veil of secrecy that shrouds so much of the prescription-drug industry. (Schladen, 8/16)
Cleveland Plain Dealer:
Ohio Prescription Drug Middlemen Made More Money From Generic Medications, Report Says
Ohio's prescription drug middlemen kept 31 percent of the money they were paid to manage generic medications for Medicaid patients, reducing the amount pharmacies were paid to dispense the drugs, according to a new state auditor's analysis of drug transactions. But the analysis left many more questions unanswered about whether Ohio is getting the most for its money. (Borchardt, 8/16)