As it readies for battle with President Trump over drug prices, the pharmaceutical industry is deploying economists and health care experts from the nation’s top universities. In scholarly articles, blogs and conferences, they lend their prestige to the lobbying blitz, without always disclosing their corporate ties.
This story was co-published with Consumer Reports.
Over the last three years, pharmaceutical companies have mounted a public relations blitz to tout new cures for the hepatitis C virus and persuade insurers, including government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, to cover the costs. That isn’t an easy sell, because the price of the treatments ranges from $40,000 to $94,000 — or, because the treatments take three months, as much as $1,000 per day.
TORONTO, Feb. 21, 2017 /CNW/ – On behalf of participating federal, provincial and territorial public drug plans, the pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance (pCPA) has concluded successful negotiations with three drug manufacturers to help jurisdictions expand access to publicly funded medications for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C.
Hepatitis C is a communicable liver disease that is caused by an infection with the hepatitis C virus. Seventy-five per cent of people who have contracted hepatitis C cannot spontaneously clear the virus. This leads to chronic hepatitis C infection. Although many of the estimated 250,000 infected Canadians may have no symptoms for decades, if left untreated, chronic hepatitis C can lead to serious complications such as liver failure and liver cancer.
Just a few years ago, hepatitis C patients took a combination of pills and injections for almost a year and these earlier drugs had lower rates of treatment success. Today’s newer therapies are more effective, available in oral form and require substantially shorter durations of treatment.
SAN FRANCISCO — More patients will have access to a life-saving medicine after a decision was made recently by a large insurer.
According to Modern Healthcare, Blue Shield Life and Health and Blue Shield of California was facing a class-action suit in Northern California after it initially denied a costly Hepatitis C medicine to some patients. The lawsuit was dismissed by a federal judge last week after Blue Shield decided to expand coverage on the drug Harvoni. Previously, the company only covered the medicine for the sickest patients.
Ryan Clary, executive director of The National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable, told The Northern California Record he believes everyone who has Hepatitis C who wants to be cured and has insurance and a provider willing to treat them should have access to the medicine.
The Fair Pricing Coalition is pleased to announce the release of “Tackling Drug Costs: A 100-Day Roadmap,” an analysis of existing federal statutes and regulations that should be strengthened to dramatically lower the prices of drugs and biologics in the U.S. The report, being distributed today to the President-elect’s transition team and Congressional leaders, provides a roadmap that can be implemented quickly on the heels of growing bipartisan support for feasible measures to control the skyrocketing costs of prescription medications. The report, executive summary, model legislation, and drug pricing infographics can be found at http://fairpricingcoalition.org/2016/12/06/tackling-drug-costs/
Cost control regulations and statutes already exist. Federal legislation, however, has not maintained pace with drug manufacturers’ tactics to circumvent these measures. The report highlights four pathways to promptly modernize and strengthen existing regulations and statutes to control drug costs, drawing on existing authority and concrete legislative actions:
Fix the Formulas: Modernize and strengthen current ceiling price formulas to ensure that government payers are not paying more than commercial payers;
·Enhance Existing Penalties: Remove inflation penalty caps, increase penalties on drugs with the most egregious price hikes, and apply penalties to new drugs with launch prices far in excess of top sellers in the same class;
·Pool Purchasing Power: Increase inter- and intra-agency collaboration to consolidate Federal and State negotiating power; and
·Pull Back the Curtain: Buttress existing transparency tools while studying the effects of additional manufacturer price and payer cost disclosures.
With prescription drug prices rising rapidly, Americans plead with lawmakers for help as manufacturers brace for a fight
The skyrocketing premiums a majority of Americans face for their health insurance in 2017, along with a diminishing choice of care, are dominating headlines — and rightly so. Yet access to the prescription drugs we need and the prices we pay for them are perhaps of most concern.
“Almost every pharmacist in the country has seen customers who have to choose between medication and food,” said Santo J. Leo, CEO of MailMyPrescriptions.com in Boca Raton, Florida. “Pharmacies aren’t allowed, legally, to help these people pay for their medications because it’s considered a kickback. We need some real reforms to the system ASAP.”
The “me-too” drug may be rehabilitated. After years of derision for multiple meds attacking the same problem in similar ways, the “me-too” product is getting attention from regulators as a tool for lowering drug costs.
European Medicines Agency officials put forth the idea in a recent New England Journal of Medicinearticle, one in a series of tactics regulators might use to keep prices down.
Just as competition from generics and biosimilars push prices down, so might me-too meds, EMA chief medical officer Hans-Georg Richler, agency chief Guido Rasi and their co-authors wrote. Consider what happened to hepatitis C drug rebates after AbbVie’s cocktail entered the market to challenge Gilead Sciences’ meds.