Transparency At Heart Of Recent Efforts To Curb High Drug Costs, But Economists Say That’s ‘Missing The Mark’
Economists say that part of the reason price transparency won't do much to the market is not only because consumers don't pay list prices but they also don't really choose which medication they're buying. And, unlike with toothpaste or soda, it's not easy for a consumer to switch brands of medicine. In other pharmaceutical news: pharmacy benefits managers will have their day getting grilled by lawmakers, how the NAFTA deal may hinge on intellectual property protections for pharma products, and more.
How Best To Bring Down Prescription Drug Prices?
A new drug to treat postpartum depression is likely to reach the U.S. market in June, with a $34,000 price tag. The approval of the drug by the Food and Drug Administration comes on the heels of another approval, just two weeks ago, of a different antidepressant, whose retail price will be as much as $6,700 a month. Those giant list prices send shivers through the insurance industry and across the federal government and state governments, which pay for about 40 percent of prescription drugs sold in the United States. (Kodjak, 3/22)
Senate Panel To Hear From Pharmacy Middlemen On Drug Prices
The Senate Finance Committee said Thursday that it has secured commitments from executives of five major pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) to testify next month about the high costs of prescription drugs. Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and ranking member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said executives from Cigna, CVS, Humana, OptumRx and Prime Therapeutics have agreed to appear on April 9. (Weixel, 3/21)
The New York Times:
Drug Company Protections Are Latest Stumbling Block For Nafta Rewrite
President Trump’s ability to get his revised North American Free Trade Agreement through Congress may hinge on a little-noticed provision governing intellectual property protections for new pharmaceutical products. Congressional Democrats have seized on measures in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement that establish protections for drug companies, saying they are a boon to the pharmaceutical industry and could undermine efforts to make American health care more affordable. (Swanson, 3/21)
Kentucky Launches Probe Into Drug Overcharges By Pharmacy Benefit Managers
Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear said on Thursday he had launched an investigation into allegations that pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) had overcharged state health insurance programs for drugs and discriminated against independent pharmacies. The investigation comes against the backdrop of widespread criticism of rising costs of prescription medicines in the United States, with PBMs, middlemen who negotiate prices for employers and health insurers, coming under intense scrutiny. (3/21)
'It's A Struggle To Pay The Bills': Illinois Independent Pharmacies Say They're Being Squeezed By Middlemen
Since former Gov. Bruce Rauner expanded Medicaid managed care last year, more than a dozen independent pharmacies across the state have closed, with their owners blaming their demises, in part, on the program, which they say wasn’t paying them enough money for medications. The program is meant to save the state money, but the pharmacists say that instead of doing that, it has merely shifted the dollars that pharmacies once made to industry middlemen called pharmacy benefit managers. (Schencker, 3/21)