From Kaiser Health News

Winners And Losers Under Bold Trump Plan To Slash Drug Rebate Deals

February 1, 2019

Few consumers have heard of the secret, business-to-business payments that the Trump administration wants to ban in an attempt to control drug costs.

But the administration’s plan for drug rebates, announced Thursday, would end the pharmaceutical business as usual, shift billions in revenue and cause far-reaching, unforeseen change, say health policy authorities.

Few consumers have heard of the secret, business-to-business payments that the Trump administration wants to ban in an attempt to control drug costs.

But the administration’s plan for drug rebates, announced Thursday, would end the pharmaceutical business as usual, shift billions in revenue and cause far-reaching, unforeseen change, say health policy authorities.

In pointed language sure to anger middlemen who benefit from the deals, administration officials proposed banning rebates paid by drug companies to ensure coverage for their products under Medicare and Medicaid plans.

“A shadowy system of kickbacks,” was how Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar described the current system in a Friday speech….

Read the full Kaiser Health News article

Congress Wades Into Emotional Debate Over High-Cost Prescription Drugs

January 29, 2019

Senators railed against pharmaceutical executives Tuesday for declining to testify before Congress about out-of-control drug prices, as lawmakers on both sides of the U.S. Capitol kicked off investigations sure to rattle one of the nation’s most powerful industries.

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the Republican chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, signaled he could compel drugmakers to appear before the committee, saying he was “extremely disappointed” that only two companies have agreed to testify at a later date.

Senators railed against pharmaceutical executives Tuesday for declining to testify before Congress about out-of-control drug prices, as lawmakers on both sides of the U.S. Capitol kicked off investigations sure to rattle one of the nation’s most powerful industries.

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the Republican chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, signaled he could compel drugmakers to appear before the committee, saying he was “extremely disappointed” that only two companies have agreed to testify at a later date.

“We will extend the opportunity again in the future, but we will be more insistent the next time,” Grassley said.

And in a blow to the pharmaceutical industry, Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, the committee’s top Democrat, agreed with Grassley, suggesting the parties are largely united in their determination to address skyrocketing drug costs….

Read the full Kaiser Health News article

Secretive ‘Rebate Trap’ Keeps Generic Drugs For Diabetes And Other Ills Out Of Reach

January 18, 2019

Lisa Crook was lucky. She saved $800 last year after her insurance company started covering a new, less expensive insulin called Basaglar that was virtually identical to the brand she had used for years.

The list price for Lantus, a long-acting insulin made by Sanofi that she injected once a day, had nearly quadrupled over a decade.

With Basaglar, “I’ve never had my insulin cost drop so significantly,” said Crook, a legal assistant in Dallas who has Type 1 diabetes

Lisa Crook was lucky. She saved $800 last year after her insurance company started covering a new, less expensive insulin called Basaglar that was virtually identical to the brand she had used for years.

The list price for Lantus, a long-acting insulin made by Sanofi that she injected once a day, had nearly quadrupled over a decade.

With Basaglar, “I’ve never had my insulin cost drop so significantly,” said Crook, a legal assistant in Dallas who has Type 1 diabetes.

But many people with diabetes can’t get the deal Crook got. In a practice that policy experts say smothers competition and keeps prices high, drug companies routinely make hidden pacts with middlemen that effectively block patients from getting cheaper generic medicines.

Such agreements “make it difficult for generics to compete or know what they’re competing against,” said Stacie Dusetzina, an associate professor of health policy at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine….

Read the full Kaiser Health News article

How The Government Shutdown Affects Health Programs

January 3, 2019

There seems to be no end in sight for the current partial government shutdown, the third since the beginning of the Trump administration.

For the vast majority of the federal government’s public health efforts, though, it’s business as usual.

That’s because Congress has already passed five of its major appropriations bills, funding about three-fourths of the federal government, including the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

There seems to be no end in sight for the current partial government shutdown, the third since the beginning of the Trump administration.

For the vast majority of the federal government’s public health efforts, though, it’s business as usual.

That’s because Congress has already passed five of its major appropriations bills, funding about three-fourths of the federal government, including the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

But seven bills are outstanding — including those that fund the Interior, Agriculture and Justice departments — and that puts the squeeze on some important health-related initiatives….

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For The Asking, A Check Is In The Mail To Help Pay For Costly Drugs

December 13, 2018

Kip Burgess was relieved last year when pharmaceutical giant Amgen overnighted him a $2,976 check to help pay for his go-to arthritis drug, Enbrel.

The 36-year-old psychologist had run into an increasingly common problem: The copay coupon sent by Amgen couldn’t cover the drug’s more than $4,000 monthly price.

Kip Burgess was relieved last year when pharmaceutical giant Amgen overnighted him a $2,976 check to help pay for his go-to arthritis drug, Enbrel.

The 36-year-old psychologist had run into an increasingly common problem: The copay coupon sent by Amgen couldn’t cover the drug’s more than $4,000 monthly price.

“Nothing in the world gives me more anxiety than just getting my medication,” Burgess said. “There’s nothing you can do but beg.”

Panicked, Burgess had called Amgen and pleaded for help. The drugmaker sent him the check after he provided a credit card statement and an explanation of benefits to prove he bought its drug….

Read the full Kaiser Health News article