Latest Morning Briefing Stories
“Everybody’s been waiting for this moment where the flood gate of new treatments is opening,” said Dr. Biree Andemariam, chief medical officer of the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America. But the new drug is expensive: Global Blood Therapeutics priced Oxbryta at $125,000 a year.
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.
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.
“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.
Stat hosted a summit for top executives and researchers, policymakers, and patient advocates to discuss the future of medicine and the pharmaceutical landscape.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Read recent commentaries about drug-cost issues.
Read about pharmaceutical development and pricing stories in this week’s Prescription Drug Watch round up.
Rules requiring prior authorization from insurance companies for buprenorphine exist in at least 40 states, preventing doctors from immediately being able to provide treatment to help prevent overdoses. News on the opioid crisis focuses on Purdue Pharma’s media campaign to hide the truth and criminal penalties for dealers, as well.
Nearly half of all U.S. adults have some type of cardiovascular disease, and scientists are turning to old drugs as well as novel concepts as they try to figure out a way to improve treatments. In other pharmaceutical news: Alkermes acquires Rodin Therapeutics and a drugmaker shuts out a family-run rival.
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.
The phages can be programmed to blow up a single harmful bacterium without blowing up other, helpful strains that occur naturally in a person’s body, as antibiotics do. In other pharmaceutical news, Novartis nabs U.S. approval for its experimental sickle cell drug.
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.
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.”
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.
Although deaths from superbugs went down, the number of people sickened increased and superbugs are appearing much more often outside of hospital. “You and I are living in a time when some miracle drugs no longer perform miracles and families are being ripped apart by a microscopic enemy,” said CDC Director Robert Redfield.
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.