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The changes come in the wake of Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs’s death in July because of an opioid overdose. The new policy also changes the way positive marijuana tests are handled. In other news on the national drug crisis: an opioid unlike any other, a spreading epidemic, the fight for court money, and more.
The Senate voted 72-18 to confirm Dr. Stephen Hahn as FDA commissioner. Dual public health crises — the opioid epidemic and the vaping boom — have thrust the agency into the spotlight in recent years. Even though Hahn sidestepped questions in his hearing about e-cigarettes, he managed to win support of even longtime critics of the tobacco industry.
The bill itself, which gives Medicare the power to negotiate drug prices, is likely dead on arrival in the Senate. But it gives Democrats a talking point for a contentious election year.
Researchers were excited about the possibilities, especially from one of the drugs that was able to reach tumors in the brain. Other pharmaceutical news focuses on insulin prices and biotech startups.
Vivitrol, manufactured by Alkermes, is meant to help those recovering for addiction, but it also lowers tolerance to opioids. That means if patients relapse while taking it they are far more vulnerable to overdoses.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s drug plan includes many policies that President Donald Trump himself has touted. It was almost a dare for him to fight against it, and at first he seemed interested. That all changed with impeachment.
“It always bothered me pouring pharmaceuticals down the drain,” a former employee at generic-drug giant Mylan told Stat. Other public health news reports on the development of a potential E. coli vaccine, improving knee health by running marathons (yes), the toll on parents when teens are abusive and a look at why New York has the lowest suicide rates.
Fifty-two top LGBT advocates say Facebook ignored their concerns over the issue. The ads portray PrEP as having dangerous side effects and LGBT advocates and health professionals say they threaten to undermine years of work in promoting a drug that’s been found to be wildly successful in cutting down on HIV transmissions.
It’s likely that Democrats are viewing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s drug pricing bill as a political tool rather than a realistic goal. The legislation is already being used in ads for vulnerable Democrats and candidates are planning to tout it as a main component of their health care agendas. “Republicans will spend the next year defending their decision to block Medicare from lowering prescription drug prices for everyone,” said Jesse Ferguson, a veteran Democratic messaging consultant. After Pelosi secured a deal with the progressive wing of her party, the House is set to vote on the bill on Thursday.
Democrats argue that enshrining a 10-year guarantee in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement would have tied Congress’ hands if lawmakers wanted to change the threshold. “This deal would have caused prices of prescription drugs in those countries to skyrocket,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.). Pharmaceutical lobbyists were harsh in their assessment: “This was an unforced error and very, very weak negotiating.”
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.
“This combination will expand the innovative specialty pharmacy and infusion solutions OptumRx can offer to the consumers and clients we serve,” said John Prince, the chief executive of OptumRx, a division under UnitedHealth. In other health industry news: cigarette stocks rebrand, a former executive pleads guilty to fraud, Banner Health agrees to a settlement over a data breach.
Opinion writers weigh in on these health issues and others.
The Republicans’ bill would enact a $3,100 cap on out-of-pocket drug expenditures for Medicare beneficiaries and add monthly caps as well. The proposals are identical to ones that are in the Senate’s version of the legislation. In other pharmaceutical news: how to pay for expensive sickle cell treatments; FDA’s approval speed generates alarm; the government investigates possible carcinogens in diabetes drug; lawmakers urge HHS to probe patient assistance programs; and more.
Gilead suspended development of the safer drug for five years, in what advocates claim was a tactic to extend its monopoly on the profits from the older treatment. In other pharmaceutical news: Biogen tries to make a case for its Alzheimer’s drug but some remain unpersuaded; Sage Therapuetics’ shares plummet after bad news on depression treatment; biotech investors say they’re not worried about Congress; and more.
But while the growth in health care usage slowed last year, larger hikes in prices more than offset it. Overall, national health care spending rose to $3.65 trillion in 2018, up 4.6% from 2017, according to an annual report by nonpartisan economic HHS experts. Retail prescription drug prices dipped by 1%, the first drop since 1973.
But the vote would give House Democrats an election talking point and let them show that they can govern despite the impeachment proceedings. The legislation would allow HHS to negotiate lower prices for up to 250 drugs per year, with the lower prices applied to people with private insurance as well as Medicare.
States involved in the opioid dispute with the company argued against the bonus. “Purdue should not award bonus payments to [CEO Craig Landau] before resolving the allegations that Landau committed deadly, illegal misconduct,” they said. Purdue Pharma said maintaining its bonus program is essential to keep key employees on the job.
The study found that in one drug only 1% of an estimated 276,000 serious adverse events had been reported. Researchers say they data emphasizes the need for better surveillance of the risk of injury. In other pharmaceutical news: biotechs react to the House drug pricing bill, another drugmaker admits to price fixing, a new medicine might help curb dementia-related delusions, and more.