ACHP Media Report: Pharmacy News – June 9, 2017

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ACHP Resources: ACHP has released the latest installment in The Spike in Drug Prices infographic series, focusing on the troubling spike in the cost of generic drugs. Generics have helped patients save money by providing a low cost alternative, but in a troubling shift, paired with a lack of competition in the marketplace, some generics are as pricey as brand drugs. Transparency can help increase competition in the marketplace and help consumers make better choices about their health care. More information here. Please share widely!


Drug cost conversation continues

CDPHP’s former pharma reps reversing drug spending
In an effort to reduce drug spending, ACHP member Capital District Physicians’ Health Plan (CDPHP) in Albany, New York has trained former pharmaceutical representatives to educate doctors on drug costs and prescribing patterns. Rather than pushing providers to prescribe brand name drugs, CDPHP representatives are encouraging the use of affordable alternatives, including generics. Through these efforts, CDPHP has managed to keep its yearly drug-cost percentage increases in the single digits.

New study questions drug combinations
A recent study of approximately 4,800 women with aggressive breast cancer found minimal difference in the percentage of women who remained cancer free using one drug vs. a combination of two drugs. With recent cancer drugs garnering significant list prices, the marginal benefit to patients using combination therapy concerns calls into question justifiable drug pricing.

Advocates seek price transparency

Nevada seeks to hold insulin providers accountable
The state legislature of Nevada has resurrected a bill that would require pharmaceutical companies to disclose their profits made on insulin products. The bill is similar to those introduced in other states and is an effort to increase price transparency to slow the growth of drug prices. Specifically, the price of insulin drugs has increased by nearly 300 percent over the past decade. While patient groups applaud these efforts, several prominent advocacy groups, including the American Diabetes Association, remain quite on the issue. A move many critics believe is due to their financial ties to the industry.

AMA to vote on price transparency
During its annual conference next week, the American Medical Association (AMA) will vote on a resolution to require pharmaceutical companies to include the price of drugs in their advertisements aimed at consumers. The resolution is an effort to improve drug price transparency and is a follow-up to the association’s 2015 failed attempt to ban direct-to-consumer marketing.


Opioid epidemic

FDA removes Opana from the market
The FDA has asked a drug company to remove its opioid pain medication from the market, the first time the agency has made such a request because of the public health consequences of abuse. The agency concluded after an extensive review of Endo Pharmaceuticals’ Opana ER that the “benefits of the drug may no longer outweigh its risks.” The company reformulated the drug in 2012 to make it more difficult to snort, but the FDA said that move actually led to more injections — and a major HIV outbreak.


Deaths from opioid overdoses continues to rise
Data compiled by several hundred state health agencies predicts deaths from opioid overdoses will exceed 59,000 people in 2016, the largest spike recorded in U.S. history. Deaths are predicted to have risen by 19 percent since 2015, with expectations the trend will continue in 2017.


PhRMA’s latest

PhRMA spends millions on image
PhRMA has spent nearly $20 million on its Go Boldly advertising campaign aimed at changing the community perception of pharmaceutical companies. Phase two of the campaign, “Together”, began last with a goal of highlighting the link between biopharmaceutical researchers and patients. The coming months will feature additional disease states as part of PhRMA’s advertisement campaign including hepatitis c, type 1 and 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and others.