ACHP Media Report: Pharmacy News – November 18, 2016

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**Note: The ACHP Media Report: Pharmacy News will not be published Friday November 25. We will resume publication Friday December 2.

 ACHP in the News: A Bloomberg story published yesterday in which ACHP President and CEO Ceci Connolly discussed the future of the Affordable Care Act was carried in today’s Chicago Tribune.

Presidential Transition Brief
Until inauguration on January 20, ACHP will provide updates on the presidential transition.

– Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has announced he will not hold an official role in the Trump administration. The president-elect has selected Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) for attorney general and offered Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn the role of national security adviser; Flynn has unofficially accepted.

– House Speaker Paul Ryan is conducting a phone survey to gauge support for the Affordable Care Act. One can access the survey by calling (202) 225-3031 and following the voice prompts.

PhRMA plays role in Trump’s transition team
After speaking out on the need to reduce drug costs and hold the pharmaceutical industry accountable for price increases during his campaign, Donald Trump has not raised the issue again since winning the presidential election. Trump’s transition health care agenda makes no mention of drug costs. Many speculate his inaction is due to the role the pharmaceutical industry plays in the careers of Trump’s transition team. One of the largest contributors to Vice President-elect Mike Pence’s political career is Eli Lilly and Company, and some key advisors are former executives at Pfizer, Celgene and Williams & Jensen, a leading pharmaceutical lobbying firm. Noam Levey of the Los Angeles Times points out several top Republicans in Congress have also received significant funds from the pharmaceutical industry, including House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI).

 AMA takes stand on drug prices
The American Medical Association (AMA) has announced its support for initiatives that account for value in drug prices without compromising patient access and outcomes. The AMA is calling for an independent agency to recommend drug prices based on evidence and data. In addition, the organization is requesting physicians be able to use their discretion when selecting treatments for varying populations. The AMA also supports direct-purchasing agreements that lower prices and guarantee a larger market share for a particular drug. Adam Rubenfire of Modern Healthcare reports.

 HHS increases access to MAT
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced nurse practitioners (NP) and physician assistants (PA) will be allowed to prescribe buprenorphine in early 2017, expanding access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid abuse. NPs and PAs are required to complete 24 hours of training provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association before receiving a license to prescribe MAT for up to 30 patients, potentially increasing to 100 after one year.

Pfizer reduces price of vaccine
Pfizer has lowered the price of its pneumococcal vaccine to a little more than $9 per three-dose treatment per child. The reduction comes after Doctors Without Borders, a humanitarian group, noted the price impeded governments of poorer countries from obtaining the drug and refused a donation of one million doses. While the group is grateful for the price reduction and is likely to accept the offer, Ed Silverman of STAT News explains Doctors Without Borders will continue to advocate for a price of $5 per three-dose treatment per child.

Former Valeant and Philidor executives charged
Former Valeant Pharmaceuticals executive Gary Tanner and former Philidor Rx Services chief executive Andrew Davenport have been charged with facilitating a multi-million-dollar fraud and kickback scheme. The charges brought by the U.S attorney general allege Tanner received approximately $10 million in kickbacks to steer Valeant’s business to Philidor and Davenport made more than $40 million in profits. The investigation continues as the U.S. attorney general reviews the nature of the relationship between the two companies. Jacquie McNish, Anne Steele and Christopher Matthew with The Wall Street Journal report (subscriber’s content).

Promising results for PCSK9
A study published in JAMA found Repatha, a cholesterol drug classified as a PCSK9, reduced levels of LDL cholesterol and the amount of plaque on artery walls of patients currently taking statins. While the results are promising, researchers acknowledge several limitations of the study. Ariana Eunjung Cha of The Washington Post notes among the limitations to the study are the fact all participants already had heart disease, participant retention was only 87 percent and the study had a small sample size.

Earlier this week:

Surgeon General issues drug and alcohol report
U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, M.D., MBA, is adding drug and alcohol addiction to the list of public health crises of the past half-century, alongside AIDS and smoking. A report released Thursday details the effects of drug and alcohol abuse and notes that in 2015 more than 20 million Americans had a substance-abuse disorder. Murthy has said the epidemic is a “moral test” for the country, writes Lenny Bernstein of The Washington Post.