ACHP Media Report: Pharmacy News – December 16, 2016

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Resource: ACHP Drug Cost Toolkit

Presidential Transition Brief
Until inauguration on January 20, ACHP will provide updates on the presidential transition.

– It appears Deputy Administrator for Innovation and Quality and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Chief Medical Officer Patrick Conway, M.D., will not be staying in the new administration, according to two of our Washington sources. Dr. Conway, a pediatrician who has served in both the Obama and Bush administrations, was once thought to be a candidate for the position of CMS administrator.

   – Jonathan Burks will take over for David Hoppe as Chief of Staff to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI).

Mylan announces generic EpiPen
Mylan Pharmaceuticals announced today the release of its generic EpiPen. The product is priced 50 percent lower than the brand version’s wholesale acquisition price and has the same formula and functioning. It will be available to consumers at pharmacies beginning next week. Street Insider breaks the news.

Eli Lilly provides insulin discount
Eli Lilly announced Tuesday it will provide a 40 percent discount to uninsured individuals and those in high-deductible plans for its insulin product. Both groups currently pay full price for the drug, which has increased in cost for several years. Eli Lilly’s product, Humalog, jumped from $21 to $255 per vial from 1996 to 2016. Eligible individuals will be able to order the discounted insulin product through Blink Health via the company’s website or mobile application. Pharmaceutical companies aim to make drugs more affordable in the wake of President-elect Donald Trump’s statements vowing to reduce drug prices. Carolyn Johnson of The Washington Post reports.

Pharmaceutical companies promote ADFs
Pharmaceutical companies are promoting abuse-deterrent formulations (ADF) of opioids, which are more difficult to crush and dissolve, as a way to address the epidemic. Critics believe lobbying by pharmaceutical companies detracts from more viable solutions, such as changing prescriber patterns. They also point out ADFs are more expensive than other opioids and may reduce competition. Matthew Perrone, Geoff Mulvihill and Liz Essley White of the Associated Press and the Center for Public Integrity mention in STAT News the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not recommend ADFs in its opioid guidelines released earlier this year due to a lack of evidence indicating these drugs reduce addiction rates, overdoses and deaths.

New funding to address the opioid epidemic
As part of the 21st Century Cures Act, $500 million has been allocated to address the opioid epidemic. The White House is moving quickly to send these funds to states in crisis to aid in addiction treatment. While prevention and recovery support remain important, expanding treatment opportunities in communities without access to health care providers remains paramount. Federal substance abuse programs plan to apply for state funding soon, but the timing of the distribution of funds is uncertain. Deirdre Shesgreen of USA Today notes it is unclear if the Obama administration plans to approve all grants before the new president is in place.

DOJ charges former pharmaceutical executives, drug companies face lawsuits
Heritage Pharmaceuticals former Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Glazer and former President Jason Malek are facing federal charges for conspiring with other generic drug companies to fix prices for two diabetes medications between April 2013 and December 2015. Heritage Pharmaceuticals has also filed a lawsuit against both former executives alleging they stole millions of dollars from the company. Brent Kendall of The Wall Street Journal writes the DOJ has sent subpoenas to several generic pharmaceutical companies on the matter (subscriber’s content).

Twenty states have filed a civil complaint accusing several generic drug companies of working together to fix prices for doxycycline, a delayed-release antibiotic, and glyburide, a common diabetes drug. Companies named in the suit include Mylan and Teva Pharmaceuticals. According to Katie Thomas of The New York Times the investigation will go beyond the two drugs identified and include many more companies.

AARP targets drug prices
The AARP Public Policy Institute released a report December 14 finding annual price increases for common prescription drugs between 2006 and 2015 grew at a rate 130 times faster than inflation. Of the nearly 270 brand drugs studied, more than 90 percent increased in retail price. According to AARP, these price increases continue to financially strain senior citizens. Casey Harper of The Hill explains pharmaceutical companies assert the price hikes are needed to offset the cost of research and development.

Express Scripts changes 2017 formulary
Express Scripts has reached an agreement with Gilead Sciences to include its hepatitis C drug, Harvoni, on its formulary beginning January 1, 2017. Express Scripts is not guaranteeing coverage of the drug. Executives at Express Scripts see the inclusion of Harvoni in its Hepatitis Cure Value Program as a win from continued lobbying on drug prices. Tracy Staton of FiercePharma has the story.

Earlier this week:

Drugmakers eye ACA replacement warily
Replacing the Affordable Care Act could be a boon or bust for the pharmaceutical industry. Drugmakers are hopeful provisions mandating customer rebates may be rolled back, but are concerned an increase in the number of uninsured Americans could result in fewer consumers, explains Dylan Scott of STAT. Republican lawmakers are also considering drug reimportation, which drug companies oppose.

Obama signs bipartisan health bill
President Obama has signed the 21st Century Cures Act, enacting the bipartisan bill into law. The bill provides funding to fight the opioid crisis, expands investment in biomedical research and revamps the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval process for generic drugs. Some consumer advocates criticize the legislation, arguing revisions to FDA procedures put American patients at risk. The law passed with overwhelming bipartisan support. Juliet Eilperin and Carolyn Johnson of The Washington Post have the story.