Latest Morning Briefing Stories
A new working paper finds that there’s been a 14-percent increase in opioid-related mortality attributable to expanded naloxone access. Many in the field are troubled by the moral implications of publishing research making claims that could have wide-reaching ramifications. Meanwhile, a group of bipartisan senators introduce legislation to strength the DEA’s role in curbing the epidemic.
Experts in the industry have been speaking out against the right-to-try movement, saying it will just set up patients for disappointment. Lawmakers are expected to vote on a House version of the bill as early as Tuesday.
Experts are frustrated that men aren’t encouraged to undergo genetic testing for BRCA mutations despite their proven link to prostate cancer. In other public health news: a lung disease that is killing dentists, premature babies, cholesterol drugs, heart health, MRIs and claustrophobia, concussions and more.
The House is expected to vote on the legislation this week. Both the Senate and the president have backed the right-to-try movement in the past. Also on Capitol Hill, the Senate is turning its focus on the contentious debate over the 340B drug discount program, the pharmaceutical industry is trying to get lawmakers to undo a deal that would force drugmakers to pick up more of the tab for prescription spending in the Medicare doughnut hole, and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) wants more donations transparency.
Prosecutors are asking for Martin Shkreli, who became the face of exorbitant drug costs, to get 15 years behind bars.
The government’s current funding expires on March 23, and Republicans are pushing provisions related to women’s reproductive health that Democrats say they won’t give in on. Meanwhile, one lawmaker wants to include a proposal to fight high drug prices in the final spending bill.
The latest legislation introduced in the Senate would limit the ability of a company to transfer patent rights to a foreign country or under legal claims of tribal sovereign immunity.
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb’s sharp words for the pharmaceutical industry are seen as a strong signal of his interest in curbing high drug costs.
Cigna would acquire Express Scripts in a cash-and-stock deal worth about $52 billion, excluding debt, the companies say.
Read recent commentaries about drug-cost issues.
News outlets report on stories related to pharmaceutical pricing.
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) has been trying to get information from Teva Pharmaceutical Industries to determine its role in the opioid crisis.
New data shows that overdoses spiked 30 percent last summer, compared to the same period in 2016. “This is a very difficult and fast-moving epidemic and there are no easy solutions,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Typically, pharmaceutical drugmakers pay rebates to win reimbursement coverage for their medicines and insurers use these rebates to lower their own costs and keep a lid on premiums.
Colistin is often the only antibiotic that will work against these highly drug-resistant bacteria. But scientists have discovered a new way bacteria are resisting the medication. In other public health news: gender bias in babies, depression, heart disease, football-related brain injuries, sickle cell, and ER care at home.
Judge Dan Polster of the Northern District of Ohio is adjudicating the consolidated legal cases against drugmakers for their alleged role in the opioid epidemic. He has already informed the lawyers that he intends to dispense with legal norms like discovery, and is after a real solution to the crisis. The move is shaking up legal circles, according to advocates and industry watchers.
The Trump administration will make it easier for patients to access their health records, encourage health providers to be more transparent about the costs of procedures and services and remove regulations that “impede” innovation, HHS Secretary Alex Azar told industry officials.
Researchers are working to create a pill that could trigger the body into mimicking the positive effects of working out to help benefit post-op patients, those with muscle-related diseases and others.
“What was really striking to me is just how sick these kids are and that almost half of them end up in the ICU,” said Dr. Jason Kane, a lead author on the new study. Meanwhile, NPR takes a look at the paradox of heightened pain sensitivity with opioid use. And media outlets report on news of the crisis out of Tennessee, Connecticut, Florida, Oklahoma and New Hampshire.
The 340B program requires pharmaceutical companies to give steep discounts to hospitals and clinics that serve high volumes of low-income patients. Through Medicare, the federal government then reimburses the facilities for the drugs at a higher rate. A bill from Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) would require hospitals to disclose how much they pay for drugs under the program.