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Latest Morning Briefing Stories

Senate Poised To Vote On Massive Opioid Package, But Advocates Still Say It Doesn’t Do Enough

KHN Morning Briefing

Although the vote will likely give lawmakers running for re-election in states hit hard by the epidemic a talking point, enough differences remain between the Senate and House versions that there’s still a lot of work to be done before it gets to the president to sign. And advocates are disappointed with what didn’t make it in the legislation. Meanwhile, Purdue is offering free addiction treatment medication as part of its efforts to settle the flood of lawsuits it is facing.

After Weeks Of Delay On Opioids Legislation, Senate Keys Up Bipartisan Package For Vote Next Week

KHN Morning Briefing

The sweeping legislation promises $500 million dollars for the states to fight the opioid epidemic — an important issue going into the midterms for both parties — and is similar to what the House produced. Other news on opioids looks at efforts to stem foreign fentanyl supplies, Colorado’s lawsuit against Purdue, Maryland’s misconduct charges against Insys Therapeutics, Endo’s attempt to limit lawsuits, a decision by Blue Cross to stop paying for OxyContin, and more.

Senate Opioid Package Hits Snag As Democrats Pump The Brakes Over Provision Benefiting PhRMA-Backed Group

KHN Morning Briefing

The provision would authorize the government to give grants to groups that focus on addiction and substance-abuse disorders, but the only organization that fits the criteria is the Addiction Policy Forum, an advocacy group funded by PhRMA. In other news on the crisis: opioid taxes, skyrocketing fentanyl deaths, treatment alternatives, insurance coverage and more.

Tired Of Shortages And High Costs, Hospital Group Launches Company To Make Its Own Drugs

KHN Morning Briefing

Besides creating a reliable supply for its 500 hospitals, Civica aims to reduce drug prices by about 20 percent. “There are a lot of very principled generic drug makers out there … they have nothing to worry about,” said Dr. Marc Harrison, president and CEO of Intermountain Healthcare. “The folks who are gouging people and creating shortages, they know who they are. And they’re the ones who should be very concerned.”

French Drugmaker Sanofit Pays $25 Million To Settle SEC Bribery Charges

KHN Morning Briefing

The Securities And Exchange Commission outlined various ways the company violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in multiple countries and sent a signal it would be monitoring businesses in countries where it’s often difficult to gain sales.

CMS Aims To Ramp Up Medicare Part D Plans’ Negotiating Power Over Drug Costs With Formulary Change

KHN Morning Briefing

CMS is allowing the plans to pursue what are known as “indication-based formulary designs,” which are already used by private insurers. “By allowing Medicare’s prescription drug plans to cover the best drug for each patient condition, plans will have more negotiating power with drug companies, which will results in lower prices for Medicare beneficiaries,” CMS administrator Seema Verma said

Even As Senate Is Poised To Pass Opioid Package, Many Controversial Issues Involving The Crisis Left Untouched

KHN Morning Briefing

More contentious policies — like protecting patient privacy and Medicaid funding — are likely to be kicked down the road until the lame-duck session following the midterm elections. Meanwhile, the FDA wants to encourage the drug industry to develop nonaddictive alternatives to opioids, and the company that makes Narcan eyes schools as an untapped market.

Intellectual Property Provision In U.S.-Mexico Trade Deal Sets Off Alarms For Generics Companies, Consumer Groups

KHN Morning Briefing

The provision in the trade pact would require a company to wait at least a decade before relying on data generated by a brand-name rival to then obtain regulatory approval and sell its own similar medicine. “The U.S. government is working in favor of the pharma lobby and against health,” said Peter Maybarduk, who heads the access to medicines campaign for Public Citizen. In other pharmaceutical news: Pfizer’s problems at its manufacturing plant, digital pills, recalls and more.