Posts Tagged “Vermont”

Canadians don’t want Americans stealing their prescription drugs.

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Canadians don’t want Americans stealing their prescription drugs.

Earlier this month, the Trump administration released its official plan to eventually let Americans import inexpensive prescription drugs from Canada. This is a popular idea that conservatives long resisted, but it has recently caught on among politicians on both sides of the aisle thanks to the growing sense of crisis over U.S. pharmaceutical prices. States including Florida , Maine , Colorado , and Vermont have passed laws to let their residents buy medicine over the border . Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders recently joined a bus caravan of diabetes patients that traveled to Ontario in order to stock up on insulin. (Under current law, U.S. residents are allowed to bring back up to a three-month supply of medication from across the border for personal use.)

But while Americans might like the idea of treating their northern neighbor as one big discount pharmacy, Canadians seem to be less than thrilled by it. There has been concern that large-scale U.S. imports could exacerbate the drug shortages that are already a regular problem in the country. In July, 15 groups representing doctors, patients, and pharmacies sent an open letter to Canada’s health minister warning about the potential problems. “The Canadian medicine supply…

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USA: The Fight To Lower Soaring Drug Prices Turns Bitter Between States And The Feds

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USA: The Fight To Lower Soaring Drug Prices Turns Bitter Between States And The Feds

Frustrated by federal inaction, state lawmakers in 41 states have proposed detailed plans to lower soaring prescription drug costs. Some measures would give state Medicaid agencies more negotiating power. Others would disclose the pricing decisions of the drug manufacturers and the companies that administer prescription drug plans.

The more ambitious proposals would bump up against federal authority, such as legislation that would allow importing drugs from Canada or alter federal statutes on the prices states pay for drugs in Medicaid. They likely would have to survive a challenge in federal court. And many likely would face resistance from a deep-pocketed pharmaceutical industry.

According to the National Institute on Money and Politics, a nonprofit that collects campaign finance data, the pharmaceutical industry in 2018 contributed nearly $19 million to state campaigns, and $56 million to federal ones.

“States are limited in power in this area,” said Rachel Sachs, a health law expert at Washington University in St. Louis School of Law. “But one of the impacts of these efforts is to put pressure on the federal government, and force it to justify its actions to stymie the states.”

President Donald Trump has criticized soaring drug prices, and on Thursday the Department…

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USA: On Both Ends of Capitol, Both Parties Warn Big Pharma on Drug Prices

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USA: On Both Ends of Capitol, Both Parties Warn Big Pharma on Drug Prices

Members of Congress from both parties served notice on pharmaceutical companies on Tuesday that the days of unchecked drug-price increases were over and that they would be held politically accountable for exorbitant prices.

The new reality became apparent at simultaneous but separate hearings of House and Senate committees where lawmakers said that the relentless increases were unsustainable and unacceptable.

“There is a strong bipartisan consensus that we must do something to rein in out-of-control price increases,” said Representative Elijah E. Cummings, Democrat of Maryland and the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. “Drug companies make money hand over fist by raising the prices of their drugs — often without justification and sometimes overnight — while patients are left holding the bill.”

On the other side of the Capitol, Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa and the chairman of the Finance Committee, and Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, the senior Democrat on the panel, denounced drug company executives who they said had refused to testify voluntarily.

Mr. Grassley expressed “displeasure at the lack of cooperation from the pharmaceutical manufacturers” and vowed to insist on their testimony in coming months.

Mr. Wyden said: “Even the Big Tobacco C.E.O.s…

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USA, MA: Charlie Baker takes on Big Pharma

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USA, MA: Charlie Baker takes on Big Pharma

Drugs — life-saving drugs — are changing lives, changing the way health care is delivered, and changing the way states, including Massachusetts, are wrestling with the rising public costs of paying for those drugs.

Last week in his proposed 2019-20 state budget, Governor Charlie Baker offered up yet another way to help control those rising prescription drug costs, promising that getting tougher not on MassHealth patients but on pharmaceutical companies could save some $80 million a year. Yes, that’s a big number — but it makes the point that this aspect of Medicaid spending is indeed a big ticket item that needs to be addressed.

That’s not surprising, given that some 1.86 million low-income residents are covered under the program — and that the cost of prescription medications are rising faster than the cost of any other aspect of health care. According to Baker’s budget team, spending on drugs under MassHealth has just about doubled since 2012, to $1.9 billion a year.

The problem, of course is not unique to Massachusetts or even to Medicaid spending. It’s one that private insurers and the federal Medicare bureaucracy are also wrestling with. And no doubt the Baker administration didn’t pick that 2012…

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Both parties want lower drug prices but gridlock prevents reform

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Both parties want lower drug prices but gridlock prevents reform

I went to Walgreens recently to pick up my three-month supply of a prescription I have been using for years. Ho hum. Until I saw what it was going to cost.

All of a sudden the price had gone up by more than 20 percent. I paid it, of course, grumbling. But I decided to do some research into what’s going on with America’s prescription drug prices.

Bloomberg News looked into drug prices last year and found that “255 brand name drugs had increases between Feb.1 and July 13 … the most common increase was for 9 to 10 percent.”

It also tracked the prices for 40 commonly used drugs in six categories — diabetes, cancer, HIV, multiple sclerosis, asthma and chronic pulmonary disease, and autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis — over a three-year period from June 2015 to June 2018. During this period the consumer price index went up by 5.6 percent.

“For all six categories of drugs,” Bloomberg found, “list prices rose far faster than inflation.”

They report:

“Prices for 10 commonly used diabetes drugs rose 25.6 percent, on average, while average prices for rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune treatments rose 40.1 percent. The latter category…

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Will Democrats’ Plan to Lower Drug Prices Actually Work?

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Will Democrats’ Plan to Lower Drug Prices Actually Work?

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and California House Representative Ro Khanna have proposed new legislation seeking to drastically reduce the price of pharmaceutical drugs in the United States.

It’s a popular goal. According to a Kaiser Health Tracking Poll released last April, 60 percent of Americans said that lowering the price of prescription drugs should be a “top priority” for Congress and the Trump administration.

The current administration’s efforts to curtail drug prices have worked to some extent. There were 57 percent fewer price increases on brand-name drugs last year compared to 2017, according to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.

But they’re still rising.

“Some manufacturers are still in denial about whether bringing down list prices is even an important goal,” Azar said at an event by the Council for Affordable Health Coverage. “They claim that these skyrocketing prices don’t matter. But these prices do matter to patients, in a number of important ways.”

The Proposal

The Sanders-Khanna legislation, the “Prescription Drug Price Relief Act of 2019” would attempt to lower drug prices across the board by using three levers.

The first is linking the United States’ prescription drug prices to the median price among five countries: France, Germany,…

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5 Things to Know About the CREATES Act

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5 Things to Know About the CREATES Act

On June 14, 2018, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 16 to 5 to report the Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples (CREATES) Act, which promotes price competition to lower costs of drugs, to the Senate floor.

Here are 5 key things to know about the proposed legislation.

1. The CREATES Act seeks to end “shenanigans” that delay competition from generic and biosimilar drugs.

Under the CREATES Act, a drug company can bring a civil action against an innovator drug company if the latter refuses to make available enough samples of a product for testing so that a biosimilar or generic can be developed. It also allows the FDA to approve alternative Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) programs if a generic or biosimilar developer and the innovator company are unable to arrive at a single shared system.

REMS Programs are designed to protect patient safety by restricting access to drugs that have special safety concerns and by requiring activities like provider training and patient counseling. However, abuse of REMS programs can halt generics and biosimilar development by keeping samples out of the hands of competitors. During a public workshop on drug pricing competition in November 2017, FDA Commissioner, Scott…

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FDA tries to prod Big Pharma on prices with a new ‘naming and shaming’ list

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FDA tries to prod Big Pharma on prices with a new ‘naming and shaming’ list

After critics called President Trump’s long-awaited plan to rein in Big Pharma’s rapacious prices disappointing, his administration launched a much-tried tactic against the industry: “naming and shaming.” The federal Food and Drug Administration issued a list of drug makers and the complaints against them about their expensive “shenanigans,” their efforts to undercut potentially cost-cutting competition by stalling the creation of generic counterpart medications.

As the New York Times reported, Uncle Sam and Big Pharma have battled for some time over generics, which FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has made a new cost-controlling priority. These drug alternatives, which don’t carry patent protections and pricey branding, marketing, and advertising, are supposed to be cheaper and equally safe and effective for patients.

But their makers need large batches of Big Pharma samples to work with to develop generics ─ and more than three dozen major firms like Johnson & Johnson’s Actelion Pharmaceuticals, Celgene, Gilead Life Sciences, Novartis, Pfizer, and Valeant have balked at providing requested products.

They also, as Gottlieb has described it, “game the system,” by making minor tweaks in their drugs and seeking patent renewals, or by seeking extensions of their legal protections by getting doctors to prescribe products with patients with…

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Big pharma’s cash flood is drowning seniors

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Big pharma’s cash flood is drowning seniors

A new report from Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, confirms a deep-seated fear for many seniors: the prices of the 20 brand-name drugs that are most prescribed to them have skyrocketed. Over the past five years, the cost of these medications has risen an average of 12% per year, with some doubling in price. Earlier this month, the commissioner of President Donald Trump’s Food and Drug Administration called prescription drug pricing a “rigged” system, blaming shady tactics aimed at reducing competition in the pharmaceutical industry.

Big Pharma is jacking up prices for one reason — because it can. This is why the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare advocates that Medicare be required (or at least allowed) to negotiate prescription drug prices with Big Pharma — an idea Republicans have by and large opposed since the Medicare Part D program was enacted in 2003. In fact, the original Medicare Part D legislation forbade the government from negotiating drug prices with manufacturers.

But a new bill introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, and Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vermont, dubbed The Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Act of 2017, seeks to allow Medicare to negotiate…

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Here are 8 ways to cut drug prices. Will Congress listen?

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The nation’s most influential science advisory group will tell Congress today that the U.S. pharmaceutical market is not sustainable and needs to change.

“Drugs that are not affordable are of little value and drugs that do not exist are of no value,” said Norman Augustine, chair of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s committee on drug pricing and former CEO of Lockheed Martin Corp.

The report, “Making Medicines Affordable: A National Imperative,” identifies eight steps to cut drug prices. It also provides a list of specific “implementation actions” for various federal agencies, including Congress, the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services.

Today’s hearing, which is the third in a series by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee, comes as Americans across the political spectrum say lowering the price of prescription drugs is a top priority. Yet, while individual states have passed laws for more transparency and price controls and President Donald Trump has publicly called for lower drug prices, Congress has stalled.

So, will the committee’s recommendations spur action? Kaiser Health News takes the political temperature, talks to experts and rates their chances:

Recommendation No. 1: Allow the federal government to negotiate…

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