Latest Morning Briefing Stories
Information technology company Practice Fusion admits to soliciting and receiving kickbacks of nearly $1 million from a “major opioid company.” The Department of Justice says this is the first time criminal action has been taken against an electronic health records vendor over its role in the opioid crisis.
Unlike other health care issues, the rise in insulin prices isn’t that complicated. The personal stories of patients rationing insulin with fatal results paints a clear picture of pharmaceutical companies profiting that candidates can leap upon. In other pharmaceutical news: Democrats target Republicans over high drug costs, presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg wants to go after patent protections, pharma bro Martin Shkreli faces new fraud accusations, and more.
Federal authorities argued that drugmakers and charities created programs that favored specific medicines over lower-cost options.
Smaller pharmacies can’t compete with the big chains, so they’re heading toward a status as relics. In other pharmaceutical news: Americans’ tough choice when insurers don’t cover a certain drug, hospitals create their own drugs, and a battle over a preterm birth drug.
Federal prosecutors have said that Insys, based in Arizona, embarked on an intensive marketing plan — including paying doctors for sham educational talks and luring others with lap dances — to sell its under-the-tongue fentanyl spray, Subsys, which was federally approved to treat patients with cancer. Meanwhile, McKesson has reached a settlement with its investors over allegations it missed suspicious opioid shipments.
More than 450 lobbyists were deployed on behalf of the industry last year, and PhRMA broke its all-time annual lobbying record. In other pharmaceutical news: patient groups’ deep ties to the industry and trade wars.
Although Johnson & Johnson posted better than expected earnings, its sales fell short of estimates. Some of the company’s most lucrative medicines face competition from generics and biosimilars. Other news on the health industry focuses on short-term plans, mergers, a teeth-straightening business, a hospital’s efforts to retain patients, and more.
The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and 18 of its member organizations are teaming up with Civica Rx, a nonprofit that is already selling drugs used in hospitals to health systems. The move comes not long after California Gov. Gavin Newsom floated a similar proposal, in which the state would contract with outside manufacturers to sell generic drugs under a California label.
Acetaminophen is found in well-known brands like Tylenol, Excedrin, Sudafed, Robitussin and Theraflu. In other pharmaceutical news: production of some Excedrin products temporarily halted; the effort to fight superbugs continues to be patchy; pharma’s race to partner with tech companies; and more.
Read recent commentaries about drug-cost issues.
Read about the biggest pharmaceutical development and pricing stories from the past week in KHN’s Prescription Drug Watch roundup.
There’s a total federal ban on marijuana that’s not expected to lift anytime soon. But at the same time, more than 40 states are expected to have loosened regulations on the drug by the end of 2020. That makes enforcement rather tricky. Meanwhile, research continues on the health effects of the drug.
Without government intervention, the United Nations estimates that resistant infections could kill 10 million people annually by 2050. “We urgently need research and development,” said Sarah Paulin, of WHO. “We still have a window of opportunity but we need to ensure there is investment now so we don’t run out of options for future generations.” In other pharmaceutical news: generic prices, updates on the Chris Collins insider trading case, CAR-T therapy, Medicare programs, and drug recalls.
Media outlets cover updates on the coronavius that has the global public health community on high alert during a busy travel season for Chinese residents.
President Donald Trump reportedly called HHS Secretary Alex Azar following a meeting about elections and polling where he was told that voters trust Democrats more than Republicans on health care issues.
The gene therapy, which isn’t officially priced yet, was extremely successful in trials. Its maker says that insurers seem on board with paying somewhere between $2 million and $3 million for the drug, which would break the previous record held by Novartis’ spinal muscular atrophy drug. Experts warned when Novartis’ drug was approved at its $2.1 million price that it was setting a bad precedent. In other pharmaceutical news: more updates from the JP Morgan conference, the science behind the Ebola vaccine, a diabetes pill, and more.
The comments from FTC Commissioner Christine Wilson, who was appointed by President Donald Trump, highlight the shifting politics around high drug prices. Giving Medicare more negotiating power is an idea more typically championed by Democrats.
The New Hampshire legislation would bar generic drug companies from hiking prices over 50% in a one-year period. A court struck down a similar law in Maryland on the grounds that the state was trying to legislate beyond its borders.
Stat offers a glimpse into what pharmaceutical companies are buzzing about at the big annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco. Also on the docket: what role tech will play in the future of the industry, the promise of immunotherapies, “smart pills,” and more.
A legal battle for information waged by The Washington Post and the company that owns the Charleston Gazette-Mail reveals the sheer scope of the opioid crisis in the country. “In excess of 100 billion pills is simply jaw-dropping,” said Peter J. Mougey, a lawyer who helped the newspapers obtain the data. The newly released data, which traces the path of pills from manufacturers and distributors to pharmacies across the country, confirms again that six companies distributed the vast majority of the pain pills.