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Latest Morning Briefing Stories

Mark Your Calendars: Pelosi Aide Says Long-Awaited House Drug Pricing Bill Will Drop In September

KHN Morning Briefing

“Pharma will argue very hard against drug negotiation of the kind we’re talking about,” said Wendell Primus, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s top health care adviser. Progressive House Democrats have been worried for months the plan will not go far enough in taking on drug companies and bringing prices down. Meanwhile, Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) refused to comment on a similarly long-awaited Senate package.

Pharma Deploys Small Army Of Advocates To Fight Against The Budget Deal That Reportedly Contains Pricing Reforms

KHN Morning Briefing

It isn’t clear yet what kind of policies Congress is considering that could hurt the pharmaceutical industry’s bottom line, but it has been reported that the reforms could cost the industry $115 billion. In other pharmaceutical news: the CVS-Aetna merger, hep C treatment and prisoners, biotech, and President Donald Trump’s drug pricing strategy.

The Two Ohio Counties That Will Be Face Of Massive Consolidated Opioid Trial Were Flooded With Millions Of Pills

KHN Morning Briefing

Barring a settlement, the two counties are scheduled to go to trial in October as the first case among the consolidated lawsuits brought by about 2,000 cities, counties, Native American tribes and other plaintiffs. Recently released data shows just how hard-hit those counties — and the rest of the country — were by the opioid crisis. Media outlets dive into the new data to get a better sense of the roots of the epidemic.

UnitedHealth Reverses Course, Approves Coverage For $2.1 Million Gene Therapy For Family Racing Against Clock

KHN Morning Briefing

Lauren Sullivan had been trying to appeal UnitedHealth’s initial refusal of the drug for her 21-month-old daughter, Daryn. The girl was running out of time to receive the treatment before her second birthday in October, when the drug has to be administered. The company also approved claims for three other patients. In other news, UnitedHealth beats expectations for the quarter, prompting company to boost earnings guidance.

People Keep Using Car Sticker Analogy To Argue For Drug Price Transparency. Here’s Why The Comparison Doesn’t Work.

KHN Morning Briefing

The common comparison of having increased transparency in drug pricing to forcing car companies to add sticker prices is flawed because it overstates the usefulness of the knowledge by implying that patients have much more power to act — to shop around or negotiate — than they actually do. In other pharmaceutical news: lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill, money for a biotech firm, and a CBO projection on the Senate’s drug pricing bill.

Sanders Calls On Candidates To Reject Donations From Health Industry: ‘You Can’t Change A Corrupt System By Taking Its Money’

KHN Morning Briefing

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) invited his fellow presidential candidates to join him in refusing to accept contributions over $200 from political action committees, lobbyists and executives of health insurance and drug companies. But an ABC News review of FEC records identified at least three contributions of more than $200 from two individual donors who could be considered executives at companies in those fields.

‘If You Like Your Plan … You Can Keep It’: Biden’s Blast-From-The-Past Promise Highlights Pros, Pitfalls Of His Health Strategy

KHN Morning Briefing

Former Vice President Joe Biden made a similar vow to voters at an AARP/Des Moines Register forum that then-President Barack Obama made as he was touting the health law. The echo from years past highlights Biden’s strategy of building upon the system already in place that has only grown in popularity in recent years. But it could put him out of step with the mood of the party. “Politically, Biden is trapped by his old job,” said Scott Jennings, an appointee in former President George W. Bush’s administration.

In Plan To Help America’s Seniors, Amy Klobuchar Addresses Alzheimer’s, Drug Costs And Long-Term Care

KHN Morning Briefing

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a 2020 hopeful, announced her proposal ahead of an AARP/Des Moines Register forum in Des Moines. “I believe we owe it to our seniors to make sure they have the care and support they need as they get older, and as president, I will prioritize tackling Alzheimer’s, strengthening health care and retirement security, and reducing prescription drug costs,” Klobuchar said.

Advocates Worry Trump Will Use Drop In Opioid Deaths As Winning Talking Point When Reality Is More Nuanced

KHN Morning Briefing

“They’re going to make the political argument that they’re winning,” said Regina LaBelle, the former chief of staff for the Office of National Drug Control Policy during the Obama administration. “Which they can say, since deaths are down. But I get concerned that we’re going to take our eye off the ball on the broader issue of addiction.” Meanwhile, in a battle over Philadelphia’s safe injection sites, supporters of the facilities get a boost from other states.

PBMs Breathe Sigh Of Relief As Trump Kills Drug Rebate Proposal And Pharma Companies Become Next Likely Target

KHN Morning Briefing

President Donald Trump’s drug pricing strategy received its second major blow this week on the announcement that the proposal to eliminate drug rebates in Medicare and Medicaid plans will be withdrawn. In January, HHS Secretary Alex Azar said that the proposal had “the potential to be the most significant change in how Americans’ drugs are priced at the pharmacy counter, ever.” But the changes met significant pushback from insurers and hospitals who worried the proposal wouldn’t force drugmakers to lower prices and would likely see higher profit margins from it. Looking forward, Trump will be left considering ideas that are more popular with progressives than his party.