ACHP Media Report: Pharmacy News – December 23, 2016

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Resource: ACHP Drug Cost Toolkit

Note: The Media Monitoring Report will not be published Monday, December 26 through Monday, January 2. We will resume publication Tuesday, January 3.

 Senators ask Trump to collaborate on lowering drug prices
Democratic Senators are urging President-elect Donald Trump and Republicans work with them to address the issue of rising drug costs. On Tuesday, a group of 19 senators outlined five areas for cooperation in a letter to President-elect Trump, including allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices, supporting the introduction of generic drugs and reforming incentives for innovation. While Trump has stated he will work to lower drug prices, he has not yet said how. Caroline Humer at Reuters has the story.

Senate investigates drug price hikes
The Senate Special Committee on Aging has released results from a one-year investigation finding the influence of “activist investors” have caused some drug companies to function like hedge funds. According to the committee, this business model can be harmful to patients, taxpayers and the health care system overall. Robert Pear at The New York Times shares drug companies are able to raise prices when they acquire a medication made by one manufacturer and face little competition in the market. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who headed the investigation, suggests providing incentives to generic drug producers to revitalize the market.

Drug manufacturers seek guidance on off-label use
Drugmakers are asking the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and legislators for clearer guidance on communication around off-label use of medications. Sarah Chacko of The Hill explains what drugmakers can tell insurers about unapproved uses can affect prices of medical products and their inclusion in payment models. The FDA is currently drafting a proposal with recommendations, but announced earlier this month the deadline for comments would be pushed back to April 10. The extension of the comment period comes as some critics have expressed concerns about risks to consumers.

More Americans going overseas for medications
The number of Americans looking to other countries to purchase medications is on the rise. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, about 8 percent of survey respondents said a member of their household has bought a drug outside of the U.S., which would amount to slightly less than 20 million people. In 2011, a government survey found the number of individuals purchasing drugs abroad to be about 2 percent. Rachel Bluth of Kaiser Health News explains that the internet has increased access to foreign pharmacies, and the rising cost of pharmaceuticals has made the prospect of shopping overseas more appealing.

Greater access to hepatitis C drugs may cost millions without improving health
Providing individuals in the earliest stages of hepatitis C access to drugs may cost a state Medicaid program $700 million over the next 10 years, with little benefit to public health, according to one new study. Published in Healthcare, the study finds that offering treatment to more patients in Pennsylvania would not lessen the number of liver transplants or deaths related to the disease while increasing spending by millions of dollars. The researchers used Pennsylvania Medicaid data to create a simulation model to determine the cost and health outcomes. Ed Silverman at STAT has the story (subscriber’s content).