KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Tax Reform Plan A Dream Come True For Pharmaceutical Industry

News outlets report on stories related to pharmaceutical pricing.

Stat: 4 Ways The Trump Tax Changes Could Help The Pharmaceutical Industry
After years of grousing about the tax code, drug makers stand to benefit substantially from the changes the Trump administration is seeking. In fact, to a great extent, the plan that the White House is proposing appears to check off a few key items on an industry wish list, according to one tax expert. ... For one, the corporate tax rate would drop from 35 percent to 20 percent. This is not the 15 percent that Trump promised previously, but it is still a big difference. To compensate for the uptick, companies would be able to immediately write off capital spending for the next five years. (Silverman, 10/2)

Stat: This Alzheimer's Patient Stars In A Pharma Ad. He May Soon Be Homeless
Brian Kursonis, who was diagnosed last year with early-onset Alzheimer’s at age 55, is a star of the drug industry’s “Go Boldly” campaign — a sophisticated PR push, costing tens of millions a year, to highlight pharma’s commitment to develop cures for dreaded diseases. ...Kursonis hopes he can find a way to earn a living as an advocate, but if money doesn’t come in soon, he won’t be able to make the December rent on his spartan apartment in a suburb outside Charlotte, N.C. He fears he will soon be homeless, his best option the men’s shelter in downtown Charlotte. Kursonis’s story highlights the complicated, often heartbreaking realities that compound the challenges of living with a disease like Alzheimer’s. (Robbins, 10/3)

Kaiser Health News: Hepatitis C Drug’s Lower Cost Paves Way For Medicaid, Prisons To Expand Treatment
Valerie Green is still waiting to be cured.The Delaware resident was diagnosed with hepatitis C more than two years ago, but she doesn’t qualify yet for the Medicaid program’s criteria for treatment with a new class of highly effective but pricey drugs. The recent approval of a less expensive drug that generally cures hepatitis C in just eight weeks may make it easier for more insurers and correctional facilities to expand treatment. (Andrews, 10/3)

Stat: Pfizer Loses Battle To Keep Medicaid Rebate Data Hidden From Texas Lawmakers
Pfizer (PFE) lost a round in the larger fight over pharmaceutical pricing when a federal judge ruled that Texas lawmakers should be able to obtain state Medicaid rebate data about its medicines. The drug maker last year filed a lawsuit against the Texas Health and Human Services Commission for releasing the data to a pair of state lawmakers, who sought the information in order to assess drug costs for the state Medicaid program. But Pfizer argued that releasing the data would violate federal and state laws that protect its confidential information. (Silverman, 10/3)

Stat: Lawmaker Urges Pharma Trade Group To Review Allergan Patent Deal With Mohawks
The controversial patent deal between Allergan (AGN) and a Native American tribe is now engulfing the pharmaceutical industry trade group. In a pointed letter, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) told the Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America that it should review whether Allergan’s sales of lucrative patents is in keeping with the organization’s boastful mission to “promote innovation and discourage predatory pricing practices and anticompetitive conduct.” (Silverman, 10/3)

Fox Business: Prescription Drug Price Gouging: What Seniors Need To Know
Americans spent $457 billion on prescription drugs in 2015, according to a recent issue of the AARP Bulletin. The most popular brand-name drugs rose 208 percent between 2008 and 2016—bad news for retirees living on a fixed income, and according to one senior citizens lobbying group, because Medicare doesn’t have the authority to negotiate drug prices, millions of older Americans are at risk of price gouging for their prescription drugs. (Dowd, 10/1)

Kaiser Health News: Do Pharma’s Claims On Drug Prices Pass The Smell Test? We Found 5 Stinkers.
Drug companies launched an ad and publicity extravaganza this year right after President-elect Donald Trump said they “are getting away with murder” on sky-high pill prices. More than it has in years, the pharmaceutical industry fears major legislation that would curb prices and shrink profits. TV spots lauding drug companies, quoting poet Dylan Thomas and showing heroic scientists have been hard to escape. (Hancock, 10/2)

Columbus Dispatch: Kucinich Jumps Into Fight Against Drug Makers
Taxpayers are bailing out drug makers the same way they did big banks back in 2008 and 2009, former U.S. Rep. and presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich said Monday. Kucinich, a Democrat, was in Columbus to announce that he was joining the campaign in support of Issue 2 to end those alleged subsidies, which he said cost the Ohio taxpayer more than $400 million a year. (Schladen, 10/2)

Dayton Daily News: Ohio Issue 2: Opinions On Both Sides
The Ohio Drug Price Relief Act — Issue 2 on the November ballot — has caused plenty of debate. It would require that the state, including the Ohio Department of Medicaid, pay the same or lower prices for prescription drugs as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs — which currently negotiates drug prices at least 24 percent less than other agencies.Here are views from both sides of the issue. (Wedell, 10/3)

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