ACHP Media Report: Pharmacy News – June 2, 2017

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Drug pricing conversation continues

Drug stakeholders blame each other for price increases
Brand drugmakers, generic drugmakers, PBMs and pharmacists all attribute drug price increases to tools and practices used by each other. The issue is a top concern for many Americans, but elected officials have not committed to a strategy for combatting rising prices. Because pharmacy companies are huge players in the political world and the problem is driven by many factors across the industry, experts are unsure if Congress will be able to address the issue anytime soon.

Medicare Part D patients hit with out-of-pocket drug costs
A Wall Street Journal analysis finds out-of-pocket drug costs for Medicare Part D patients jumped almost 50 percent between 2011 and 2015. The analysis attributes the increase to the introduction of expensive new drugs—some of which cost $50,000 annually—and a broader trend of steep price increases. Medicare patients also do not benefit from drug rebates that pharmaceutical companies sometimes provide to insurers; instead, they pay a fixed portion of the drug’s sticker price, regardless of cost-saving measures used elsewhere in the market.

Maryland law allows AG to investigate generic price increases
Maryland has enacted a law that allows the state attorney general to investigate high price increases for generic drugs. The law is the first of its kind in the United States. While Republican Governor Larry Hogan opposed the bill for being too vague, he did not veto it, which allowed the law to be enacted without his signature.


Opioid epidemic

Ohio takes legal action against drug companies
The state of Ohio has filed a lawsuit against the pharmaceutical industry. The state alleges that marketing efforts of several drug companies misled doctors and patients about the risk of overdose and addiction. Ohio is not the only region perusing litigation: The City of Chicago and counties in New York, California and West Virginia have all taken legal action. In its lawsuit, Ohio is looking to get back the money programs like Medicaid have spent on the drugs and also to recoup the cost of addiction treatment.

Pharma, health officials join to combat opioid crisis
Federal health officials and pharmaceutical companies are teaming up to accelerate the development of drugs to combat the opioid epidemic. The National Institute on Drug Abuse is starting a public-private partnership to introduce three types of drugs to the market in half the time it usually takes to develop new treatments. The new therapies include non-addictive medications for chronic pain, addiction treatments and improved ways to reverse overdoses.


Mylan settlement

Mylan overcharged Medicaid by almost $1.3 Billion in Epi-Pens
The Office of the Inspector General found that Mylan owes an estimated $1.27 billion to CMS in reimbursement for Epi-Pens. In October, Mylan agreed to pay $465 million to resolve allegations that the company wrongly classified the Epi-Pen as a generic and therefore owed fewer in rebates than for a branded drug.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has criticized Mylan for overbilling the government and not cooperating with the Committee’s investigation. Mylan officials have agreed to meet with Sen. Grassley after he threatened to subpoena the company for documents regarding Mylan’s participation in the Medicaid rebate program but has declined to comment on the OIG report.
Prescribing patterns

Cancer doctors more likely to choose a drug after receiving payment
Oncologists were more likely to prescribe drugs made by companies that offered payment for travel, meals and consulting, according to a new study. The researchers found that for treating renal cell carcinoma, a doctor was close to 80 percent more likely to prescribe a specific brand-name drug when payment was received. Many cancer drugs have high costs and side effects, making the prescribing trend troubling to the researchers.