ACHP Media Report: Pharmacy News – May 19, 2017

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ACHP Resources: ACHP has launched the Pharma Playbook, a tool created to help you discuss the drug-pricing crisis. This interactive document includes research and statistics, a media toolkit and messaging materials that you can tailor as you advocate for access to affordable prescription drugs.  *Note: You will have to login to access the Playbook. You can create an account here. A webinar tutorial is here.


ACHP in the News: Inconsistent and contradictory messages from the Trump administration on the future of health care have stoked uncertainty in the industry. ACHP President and CEO Ceci Connolly discusses how these mixed signals have complicated the current landscape.


Drug pricing conversation continues

New paper on prescription drug prices
In a white paper released by the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity, Dr. Avik Roy outlines the role federal policy has played in increasing the price of prescription drugs and suggests market-based reforms to mitigate the issue.

Drugs lose market share
A recent study in JAMA notes the market share for drugs decreased between 2006 and 2012 due to policy changes limiting the number of allowed visits by pharmaceutical representatives to medical centers. As a result, these policies promoted an increase in generic drug prescriptions.

Drugmakers fight back
Almost 30 bills have been introduced in state legislatures this year focused on addressing the rising costs of prescription drugs. Lawmakers continue to see the strain on their state Medicaid budgets and the pockets of their constituents. Drug makers vehemently oppose most of these bills and have taken to robust advertising campaigns and lobbying efforts to combat them.

Drug importation bill defeated
A bill proposing the U.S. allow drugs to be imported from Canada was defeated in Senate markup earlier this week. HHS Secretary Dr. Price has conducted listening sessions on solutions to the high price of drugs over the past several weeks, and conversations continue around the various proposals, including importation. The House Energy and Commerce Committee will markup the drug importation bill before the end of the month, giving supports another chance to make their case.


Opioid epidemic

Experts criticize Price’s comments
HHS Secretary Dr. Tom Price made remarks last week criticizing the use of medication assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder. In his view, the use of methadone and buprenorphine as treatment mechanisms is “substituting one opioid for another”. Rather, he appears to be a proponent of using vivitrol, an opioid blocker. Price’s statement not only contradicts science, but also the information on the HHS website, and perpetuates an incorrect stigma related to MAT. Nearly 700 researchers and practitioners sent a letter to Price requesting he set the record straight.


Louisiana settles Pfizer lawsuit
In 2015, the then Attorney General of Louisiana filed an antitrust lawsuit against Pfizer alleging it was blocking the introduction of a generic version of an anti-convulsant drug from entering the market. The current Attorney General Jeff Landry recently settled the suit, and used it as an opportunity to address the opioid epidemic. Rather than a cash settlement, Landry requested Pfizer provide Louisiana with 60,000 doses of naloxone valued at almost $1 million. The drug that reverses overdoses will be provided to first responders in the state.


County sues drugmakers
Orange County, New York filed a lawsuit against several prominent drug companies include Johnson & Johnson, Purdue Pharma and Teva Pharmaceuticals alleging fraudulent marketing related to opioids. The suit claims the companies and several physicians downplayed the risk of prescription opioids, contributing to the resulting epidemic. Several other states have filed similar lawsuits, a trend occurring across the country, as states strain their budgets battling the opioid epidemic and look to recoup some of the cost from what they see to be the source, drug companies.


Administration happenings

Administration weighing options for reducing drug prices
White House budget director, Mick Mulvaney, suggested President Trump may consider implementing the same mandatory rebates on drug prices used in Medicaid for Medicare. These rebates protect the government program from the effects of drug prices rising faster than the rate of inflation. Mulvaney’s statements differ significantly from those typically heard from the Republican party which may represent a shift in thinking on the issue of drug pricing.


Gottlieb makes changes to Office of Regulatory Affairs
Recently confirmed FDA Commission, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, has released his plan to reorganize the Office of Regulatory Affairs so inspectors specialize in identified product areas. Gottlieb’s approach is an effort to ensure the FDA is responsive to its changing environment and taking a risk and science-based approach to its work. No reductions in staffing are expected with this restructuring.