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Latest Morning Briefing Stories

PhRMA To Yank Millions In Funding From Nonprofit Geared Toward Helping Those Addicted To Opioids

KHN Morning Briefing

PhRMA, which is responsible for 90 percent of the Addiction Policy Forum’s funding, will walk back and then end its support by 2020. The forum was at the eye of previous controversy, with critics blasting the fact that most of its funding came from the drugmakers who they said were responsible for the crisis in the first place. News on the opioid epidemic comes out of Massachusetts and Ohio, as well.

Had African American Patients Been Prescribed Opioids At Same Level As White Ones, 14,000 More Would Have Died

KHN Morning Briefing

Data from the opioid crisis shows just how much racial bias about the pain tolerance of African American patients plays out in real life. In other news on the crisis: a growing concern that babies will be left out of financial settlements from drugmakers, a ban on addiction treatment dollars going to medical marijuana research, needle exchanges, overdose training and more.

Trump Will Release Plan To Allow States To Import Drugs; Pharma And Canada Both Remain Unhappy About Proposal

KHN Morning Briefing

“We will soon be putting more options on the table…” President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday. But it’s unclear how or if the proposal differs from one outlined this summer. Both drug companies and Canada — where the drugs would supposedly come from — oppose the idea. In other pharmaceutical news: Trump backs off from Medicare negotiation pledge, Novartis bets on heart drugs, an experimental dengue vaccine looks promising, and more.

‘I Begged And Pleaded For More Time’: Ohio Struggles To Safely Return Kids To Families In Face Of Opioid Epidemic

KHN Morning Briefing

Ohio counties wrestle with how best to reunite families separated because of drug use following the deaths of at least a dozen children between 2014 and 2018 who were returned to their parents or caregivers. Meanwhile, a deal with drugmaker Insys and groups impacted by the opioid crisis continue to work toward a bankruptcy deal. And other news related to the national drug epidemic comes out of California and Maryland.

Revamped Tool To Help Medicare Patients Pick Prescription Plans Steering Them Toward More Expensive Coverage

KHN Morning Briefing

The Medicare plan finder’s issue stems from a significant change the agency made for 2020. The plan with the lowest premium now gets automatically placed on top, with the monthly premium displayed in large font. Medicare’s previous plan finder automatically sorted plans by total cost, not just premiums, because they are only one piece of information. Meanwhile, a new study shows that Medicare prescription plans are slower to cover new generics than private plans.

Charity Designed To Help Patients Navigate Health Care Costs To Pay $4M To Resolve Pharma Kickback Allegations

KHN Morning Briefing

The government alleged that various drugmakers use charities like Florida-based The Assistance Fund as a means to improperly pay the co-pay obligations of Medicare patients using their drugs. In other pharmaceutical news: a transparency push from President Donald Trump and lawmakers, and an approval for a pricey drug that treats an ultra-rare metabolic disorder.

Verma Defended Communication Contracts As Way Of Promoting Policies, But Emails Reveal Talk Of Glamour Magazine Profile

KHN Morning Briefing

Politico has obtained emails that show federal officials and contractors discussing the possibility of boosting CMS Administrator Seema Verma’s public persona with high-profile articles in magazines like Glamour. Federal officials are prohibited from spending taxpayer dollars for publicity purposes, or using their public office for private gain. In other news, Verma criticized hospitals and insurers for fighting against price transparency efforts.

Sanders, Booker Propose Creating A New Bureau Dedicated To Keeping Drug Prices In Check

KHN Morning Briefing

Under the bill proposed by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), drugmakers bringing a new product to market would have to submit to this new agency the cost of research and development, the cost of the drug and of comparable medications in other countries and the federal investments that contributed to the drug’s discovery and production.

White House Puts Heft Behind Bipartisan Compromise Drug Bill In Senate

KHN Morning Briefing

White House adviser Joe Grogan said the administration is working to line up Republican support for the Senate bill, which would cap what Medicare beneficiaries pay out of pocket for medicines and require drugmakers to pay rebates to Medicare if they hike prices above the inflation rate.

Dollar Tree Hit With Warning From FDA Over Its Sales Of ‘Potentially Unsafe Drugs’

KHN Morning Briefing

The FDA issued a warning letter to Dollar Tree for allegedly selling over-the-counter medications from Chinese manufacturing companies that have violated U.S. federal law for not properly testing products and cited an example where “rodent feces (were) found throughout the manufacturing facility.”

FDA Advisory Panel Recommends Expanded Fish Oil Drug Use Which Could Translate Into Billions In Sales For Maker

KHN Morning Briefing

Vascepa, which right now is only approved for a relatively narrow group of patients with extremely high levels of triglycerides, costs around $300 a month. The advisory panel unanimously supported the expansion based on recent study results showing the drug can cut rates of life-threatening heart problems in high-risk patients. Other news on the pharmaceuticals and the FDA focuses on a warning against over-the-counter medicine sold at the Dollar Tree, a Chinese cancer drug, and more.

Trump Wants To Demand U.S. Pays Lowest Price For Drugs Out Of Developed Countries, Azar Says

KHN Morning Briefing

HHS Secretary Alex Azar says that President Donald Trump isn’t satisfied with just tying drug costs to what other countries pay, he wants to get the best deal. It is still unclear if the proposal will ever go into effect, though, and Azar didn’t commit to anything on Wednesday. Meanwhile, a top aide for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) says they’re hopeful the Trump administration will support the sweeping House drug pricing legislation.