ACHP Media Report: Pharmacy News – April 28, 2017

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ACHP in the News: ACHP President and CEO Ceci Connolly discusses the Republican health care strategy, cost-sharing subsidies and high drug prices on Politico’s Pulse Check podcast.

Drug pricing conversation continues

Lawmakers consider state collaboration
California Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco) introduced a bill aimed at strengthening the collaboration of state government agencies to negotiate better prices with drug companies and deploy other drug cost savings strategies. Chiu is encouraging states to pool their efforts as a way to create more leverage for the drug cost conversation.

Profits continue amid smaller price hikes
Political pressure and public outrage have forced pharmaceutical companies to cut back on significant drug price increases, which produce significant profits. Companies continue to raise prices, but instead only by the high single digits. Despite the lower price hikes, major profits persist due to cut backs in operating expenses such as research and marketing.

PhRMA’s influence

Lobbying spend increases
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) increased its spending on lobbying efforts in the first quarter of 2017 to almost $8 million, an increase from $5.95 million during the first quarter of 2016. Pharmaceutical companies have also increased their spending on lobbying efforts under the new Administration. Experts speculate PhRMA and pharmaceutical companies see this as an opportunity to gain favor while conversations continue around repeal and replace of the health care law and addressing the cost of prescription drugs.

PhRMA loses members
Marathon Pharmaceuticals resigned from its membership in the key industry lobbying group, PhRMA. This follows criticism Marathon faced regarding the pricing of its drug treating Duchenne muscular dystrophy at $89,000. Mallinckrodt Pharmaceutical is also no longer a member coincidently following critical press on the increasing price of its drug treating multiple sclerosis and lupus. PhRMA plans to release revised membership criteria in the coming weeks.


Opioid epidemic

FDA offers guidance on naloxone
The FDA provided draft guidance to generic drug companies considering developing a version of the nasal spray that can reverse an opioid overdose. In 2016, Adapt Pharmaceutical, Narcan’s manufacturer, submitted a citizen petition seeking to delay the development and introduction of generic products in the market. The FDA plans to address this petition, but seeks to foster generic drug development to help lower the price of opioid overdose reversal drugs.

Government lawyers fight for addiction treatment
Attorneys general from 19 states and DC sent a letter to President Trump and Congressional Republican leaders urging them to reconsider overhauling health care policy that may cut funding for treating addiction and changing Medicaid coverage. The attorneys general note law enforcement is not able to slow the continued opioid epidemic, and warn funding cuts will exacerbate the crisis. The letter said that a bill that died last month could have cut $13 billion a year in treatment funding through a combination of direct cuts and caps on Medicaid, ending coverage for 24 million people. For many with addictions, the taxpayer funded health insurance program is the only way to pay for treatment.

Licensing impedes addiction treatment
Earlier this year, federal agencies granted more than 700 nurse practitioners (NP) and physician assistants the authority to prescribe buprenorphine, used to treat addiction as part of medication-assisted treatment. Yet, 28 states still require NPs collaborate with physician licenses to prescribe the treatment. Some believe there is a need to change scope of practice laws to help more providers prescribe buprenorphine and address the growing opioid epidemic.


Drug competition

Epi Pen conversation continues
Sanofi is suing Mylan claiming the pharmaceutical company raised the price of its Epi Pen and offered significant discounts to pharmacy benefit managers prior to the launch of Sanofi’s comparable drug, Auvi-Q. By doing so, Sanofi claims Mylan made it next to impossible for Auvi-Q to be competitive in the market.


PBM to lose major customer

Anthem searches for new PBM
Express Scripts announced it does not expect its largest customer, Anthem, to extend its contract once it expires in 2019. Anthem has partnered with Express Scripts for almost 10 years and contributed 31 percent of adjusted earnings in 2016. While it has not provide an official statement, Anthem has issued a request for PBM proposals.


Administration happenings

Gottlieb one step closer to confirmation
The Senate HELP Committee approved President Trump’s pick to lead the FDA, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, sending his nomination to the full Senate for a vote. Some Senators are still concerned with Gottlieb’s involvement with the pharmaceutical industry and how this may influence his oversight as commissioner.