ACHP Media Report: Pharmacy News – May 5, 2017

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Health care bill passes House
The House narrowly passed the American Health Care Act on Thursday, amid outcry by leaders in the industry. In a moment of unity, hospitals, doctors, health insurers and several consumer groups – including ACHP – all urged changes to legislation that has the potential to cause millions of Americans to lose Medicaid coverage and others not able to afford to purchase coverage in their marketplace. House Republicans claimed a major victory by pushing through the legislation, which makes dents in parts of the ACA but falls short of repealing it outright. The bill now goes to the Senate, where the future of the legislation is uncertain and it is likely to undergo major changes.  ACHP’s statement on the bill can be found here.


Paying for value

Amgen provides PCSK9 guarantee
Amgen has signed a money-back guarantee with Harvard Pilgrim for its cholesterol drug, Repatha. The contract stipulates Amgen will provide a full refund to Harvard Pilgrim if a patient on its drug has a heart attack or stroke. Amgen is confident in its data and continues to look for pay-for-performance opportunities with other payers.

Drug pricing conversation continues

CSRxP launches new drug campaign
The Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing launched a new ad campaign highlighting how drug price increases negatively impact sick Americans. Every person deserves access to innovative, affordable drugs, and CSRxP is calling for genuine conversation and collaboration on the issue.

Prescription drug spending continues to increase
Spending on prescription drugs is forecasted to increase by 4-7 percent and reach between $580 and $610 billion by 2021 according to a report by QuintilesIMS Holding. The report anticipates lower spending in 2016 due to the decrease in drug approvals by the FDA and the commitment of pharmaceutical companies to implement single digit annual price increases. Drug approval are expected to increase in 2019 with more than 2,300 new drugs currently in late stage development.

Price increases continue spurring more coupons
A report released by Blue Cross and Blue Shield points out cumulative spending on drugs on patent is increasing at a rapid rate. Patients who only account for 2 percent of prescription drug purchases are paying 32 percent of out-of-pocket expenses. Drug companies are offsetting these costs by using co-pay assistance programs and drug coupons, a strategy critics say masks the continued price increases.


Opioid epidemic

Medical society supports safe injection rooms
The Massachusetts Medical Society, which represents 25,000 physicians and medical students, has approved a pilot project constructing supervised injection facilities (SIF), medically supervised sites that allows drug users to inject drugs but does not provide them, for opioid users. Clinicians in favor see SIFs as a way to reduce the number of overdose deaths that are occurring in alleyways, parked cars and abandoned buildings. Proponents based their decision on various studies of SIFs in Vancouver which decreased overdose deaths by 35 percent with more people seeking treatment at clinics. Critics see SIFs as misguided and do not believe clinicians should be supervising their patients participate in harmful and illegal activity.

Massachusetts AG focuses on youth
The Massachusetts attorney general is providing $700,000 in grants to local school districts and community organizations to prevent early drug use. School systems will develop anti-drug curriculum for fifth grade students along with providing additional training for staff. According to the attorney general, the key to ending the epidemic is targeting prevention.

Judge rolls back law on pregnant women and substance abuse
A federal judge in Wisconsin has deemed a law allowing pregnant women to be detained if they are suspected of using drugs or alcohol unconstitutional. The law is meant to protect the developing fetus, but critics note it is not clear how much of a substance in the women’s system should prompt action and what constitutes substantial risk. Critics also speculate the law deters women from seeking prenatal treatment out of fear of repercussions if a substance is found in their system.

Administration happenings

Marino withdraws from drug czar consideration
President Trump’s anticipated nominee to run the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pennsylvania) has withdrawn his name from consideration, citing family reasons. Marino was in his final stages of necessary paperwork with a nomination anticipated soon.

Senators question Surgeon General’s dismissal
Several senate democrats have requested more information from President Trump regarding his motives in relieving Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy of his duties earlier this year. In a letter to the president, the senators cite Murthy’s hard stance on gun violence being a public health issue, the dangers e-cigarettes and the need to address the opioid epidemic as a needed voice to create change.