ACHP Media Report: Pharmacy News – November 11, 2016

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Resource: ACHP Spike in Drug Costs: Infographic – Rheumatoid Arthritis

OIG explores additional pharmaceutical issues
Health and Human Services Department of the Inspector General (OIG) has released its work plan of pharmaceutical issues to further explore in 2017 to address rising drug costs. Issues under consideration include drug waste from the use of single vials for cancer treatments, potential savings for Medicare Part B by connecting rebates to drug price inflation and billing for compounded, topical drugs covered under Medicare Part D. Ed Silverman of STAT News explains while the OIG does not have the authority to propose programs, its research can influence government change.

Pharmaceutical companies tout value-based payments
Novartis Chief Executive Officer Joe Jimenez and Amgen Chief Executive Officer Robert Bradway have publically stated pharmaceutical companies should link the cost of drugs to outcomes and implement value- and performance-based payments. Novartis heart failure drug Entresto and Amgen cholesterol drug Repatha both have performance-based contracts. According to Tracy Staton of FiercePharma, a survey released earlier this year finds payers are receptive to this approach, as is the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services based on comments from Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt earlier this week.

PhRMA stocks increase
Pharmaceutical company stocks increased between 4 and 9 percent immediately following the election of Donald Trump. Trump’s views on reducing government regulations for drug prices provide pharmaceutical companies some relief from the continued scrutiny of their pricing practices. In addition, the defeat of Proposition 61, a measure on the California ballot to lower drug prices for state agencies, was also a win for the pharmaceutical industry, which spent more than $100 million on efforts to defeat the initiative. Analysts speculate both developments may mitigate state efforts to address drug pricing. Peter Loftus and Denise Roland with The Wall Street Journal have the story (subscriber’s content).

SEC and DOJ investigate Mylan Pharmaceuticals
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) have launched an investigation into the marketing, sale and pricing practices of Mylan Pharmaceuticals regarding four generic drugs. The DOJ has subpoenaed a Mylan subsidiary and several employees for potential price fixing and has executed search warrants for related information. The Associated Press writes the DOJ is investigating several pharmaceutical companies for price fixing and collusion. Mylan Pharmaceuticals expressed it intends to cooperate fully with both investigations.

 Earlier this week:

Slavitt calls for lower prices in speech to drug industry
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt challenged the rapidly rising cost of drugs November 3 in a speech to the Biopharma Congress in Washington, D.C. In his remarks, Slavitt laments bad actors have come to define the prescription drug business and urges companies to work with CMS and other organizations to keep costs down. He remains optimistic a solution can be found, but believes pharmaceutical companies need to do more to ensure drugs are priced fairly, according to Mary Ellen McIntire of Morning Consult.

Startup developing affordable hepatitis C treatment
A few industry veterans have developed a pharmaceutical company that puts access before profit. The founders of the startup Trek Therapeutics are on a mission to create an affordable, effective treatment for hepatitis C. The company is structured as a public benefit corporation, which requires equal consideration of public welfare and the bottom line. Trek is aiming to introduce a medicine to market in 2020. Carolyn Y. Johnson at The Washington Post has the story.

Health coverage to help combat opioid abuse
The Obama administration is increasing enforcement of parity laws and calling for insurers to treat substance abuse as a mental illness. More than 40 million people face mental health issues each year; about half have a substance-abuse disorder. Robert Pear of The New York Times explains parity laws will aid in the fight against the opioid epidemic.

California  residents vote on health initiatives
The California ballot initiative to address rising drug costs will likely be defeated. According to California’s Secretary of State, 54 percent of voters opposed the California Drug Price Relief Act as of late November 8. The measure would allow state health programs to pay the same price for prescription drugs as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Deena Beasley of Reuters reports the pharmaceutical industry spent millions to fight the initiative.