From Stat

A New Study Sparks a War of Words Over the Drug Industry’s Commitment to Research

May 14, 2019

A coalition of the drug industry’s fiercest foes is accusing the world’s top drug makers of hiding behind research and development “as an excuse for price-gouging American patients.” And they’re pointing to a new study that finds drug makers spent about 22% of their revenues on research and development in 2017 to prove their point.

The new study, first shared with STAT, was commissioned by the Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing, a coalition that includes pharmacy middlemen, hospitals, and insurers and that advocates for drug pricing reforms. It was based largely on analysis of 2017 Security and Exchange Commission filings for the 10 largest U.S.-based pharmaceutical companies that generate more than half their revenue from prescription drugs. And while the industry average was 22%, Celgene spent the largest percentage of its revenues on research (45.49%) and Gilead spent the lowest (14.3%).

A coalition of the drug industry’s fiercest foes is accusing the world’s top drug makers of hiding behind research and development “as an excuse for price-gouging American patients.” And they’re pointing to a new study that finds drug makers spent about 22% of their revenues on research and development in 2017 to prove their point.

The new study, first shared with STAT, was commissioned by the Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing, a coalition that includes pharmacy middlemen, hospitals, and insurers and that advocates for drug pricing reforms. It was based largely on analysis of 2017 Security and Exchange Commission filings for the 10 largest U.S.-based pharmaceutical companies that generate more than half their revenue from prescription drugs. And while the industry average was 22%, Celgene spent the largest percentage of its revenues on research (45.49%) and Gilead spent the lowest (14.3%).

To hear the coalition tell it, the study is proof that the pharmaceutical industry isn’t spending nearly enough of its profits on new cures — despite companies’ repeated insistence that that’s exactly why they price their drugs so high. Jon Conradi, a spokesman for CSRxP, called that line the industry’s “go-to defense….”

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PBMs Sidestep the Senate’s Tough Questions — But Lawmakers Hint at Legislation

April 9, 2019

The much-maligned pharmacy middlemen escaped largely unscathed during a high-profile congressional hearing Tuesday — but the powerful bipartisan duo behind the hearing now appears intent on legislating, and it looks like increasing transparency will be their primary goal.

Executives for the country’s five largest pharmacy benefit managers, the middlemen that negotiate with drug makers over the price of their drugs, were expected to face hard questions about their role in the ever rising price of prescription drugs from members of the Senate Finance Committee. But the PBM executives largely parried the senators’ questions, none of which shone too harsh a spotlight on the industry’s practices.

The much-maligned pharmacy middlemen escaped largely unscathed during a high-profile congressional hearing Tuesday — but the powerful bipartisan duo behind the hearing now appears intent on legislating, and it looks like increasing transparency will be their primary goal.

Executives for the country’s five largest pharmacy benefit managers, the middlemen that negotiate with drug makers over the price of their drugs, were expected to face hard questions about their role in the ever rising price of prescription drugs from members of the Senate Finance Committee. But the PBM executives largely parried the senators’ questions, none of which shone too harsh a spotlight on the industry’s practices.

Both the committee’s Republican chairman, Chuck Grassley (Iowa), and his Democratic counterpart, ranking member Ron Wyden (Ore.), have long criticized the role of PBMs, and appear intent on passing some form of PBM legislation this Congress….

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Faced With Rising Anger on Drug Prices, Cigna Plans to Reduce Insulin Costs to $25 a Month for Many Patients

April 3, 2019

Responding to massive public pressure about the high price of life-saving insulin for people with diabetes, the insurance giant Cigna and its drug benefit arm, Express Scripts, aim to reduce the monthly cost of insulin from $40, on average, to $25 for many patients.

Responding to massive public pressure about the high price of life-saving insulin for people with diabetes, the insurance giant Cigna and its drug benefit arm, Express Scripts, aim to reduce the monthly cost of insulin from $40, on average, to $25 for many patients.

For many, the reduction in out-of-pocket cost could be much greater. Depending on how a health plan is designed, some patients now pay, on average, $100 a month. And some patients are hit by costs of hundreds of dollars in a single month.

By the same token, the new, lower monthly price will not be available to every person who has Cigna health insurance or Express Scripts drug benefits. The employers who generally purchase health plans will have to approve the change in plan design, and not all of them will. A recent study said that a quarter of people with diabetes who used insulin admitted to cutting back on their medicine because of cost.

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Lilly Will Sell a Version of Its Popular Insulin at Half the Price, but Will This Appease Critics?

March 4, 2019

As drug makers come under increasing pressure to lower prices, Eli Lilly (LLY) is trying to thread a needle by introducing a new version of insulin at half the list price.

Specifically, the product is a so-called authorized generic version of the Humalog insulin, which means the medicine is identical to the brand-name treatment and will be made at the same plant, but carries a different label. Known as Lispro, the medication will sell for $137.35 a vial, while the list price of a five-pack of KwikPens will be $265.20.

As drug makers come under increasing pressure to lower prices, Eli Lilly (LLY) is trying to thread a needle by introducing a new version of insulin at half the list price.

Specifically, the product is a so-called authorized generic version of the Humalog insulin, which means the medicine is identical to the brand-name treatment and will be made at the same plant, but carries a different label. Known as Lispro, the medication will sell for $137.35 a vial, while the list price of a five-pack of KwikPens will be $265.20.

The move reflects growing anger at the pharmaceutical industry, although insulin has been a particular focal point among patients and, subsequently, lawmakers. The average list price for insulin nearly tripled between 2002 and 2013, according to the American Diabetes Association. More than 30 million Americans have some form of diabetes….

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A Year After Trump Touted ‘Right to Try,’ Patients Still Aren’t Getting Treatment

January 29, 2019

For Frank Mongiello, Jan. 30, 2018 was a day of hope. After dedicating the last few years of his life to the “right-to-try” movement, an effort to get dying patients access to experimental treatments, Mongiello heard President Trump use his first-ever State of the Union address to urge Congress to pass a federal law on the issue.

Just one year later, the law is in place. But Frank, who suffers from ALS — and for whom the national law is even named — still hasn’t gotten access to treatment.

For Frank Mongiello, Jan. 30, 2018 was a day of hope. After dedicating the last few years of his life to the “right-to-try” movement, an effort to get dying patients access to experimental treatments, Mongiello heard President Trump use his first-ever State of the Union address to urge Congress to pass a federal law on the issue.

Just one year later, the law is in place. But Frank, who suffers from ALS — and for whom the national law is even named — still hasn’t gotten access to treatment.

“We had a lot of hope that if the right to try was passed it would give an incentive for the drug companies to make available the drugs. But now it doesn’t seem as though the drug companies are giving away their drugs either,” Marilyn Mongiello, Frank’s wife, told STAT. She speaks for him in interviews because he is only able to communicate via technology that turns his eye movements into text. In a brief email exchange, Frank confirmed to STAT that he has not found treatment but that he remains optimistic, despite his worsening condition….

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